Work and travel in Europe sounds like a great idea right!? Even better if you have a year long work visa for a country. You can stay longer, you won’t have to worry about leaving the Schengen zone after your 3 month tourist permit is finished, and you can work a little to save more money.
So it’s a win/win. In my experience, some of the easiest countries to apply for Working Holiday Visas are Germany and the Netherlands. The UK is also an option though it’s slightly more restrictive in terms of the countries that can apply. Of course the rules are different depending on what country you’re from, and being from New Zealand I can advise mostly to people from that side of the world.
I recently applied for the Netherlands Working Holiday Visa so I can give you a run down of what it involved, what I had to provide and the steps I took, and how long it took to finally receive the visa.
STEP 1: CHECK IF YOU’RE ABLE TO APPLY
Firstly check that you’re from one of the following countries: Australia, Argentina, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, or South Korea. If so, then alright! You’re past the first test meaning your country has good enough political relationships with Europe/Netherlands specifically in order to secure you and your fellow country people an agreement to work temporarily in that country. In return young people from the Netherlands probably have the opportunity to work in your country.
STEP 2: APPLY VIA WEBSITE
Having made it past the first round of vigorous checks, you can apply to your nearest IND office if you’re already in the Netherlands (IND stands for Immigration and Naturalization service), but the most common way to apply for the visa is online.
The link for this is here: https://ind.nl/en/exchange/Pages/working-holiday.aspx
You’ll need the following documents
- Valid Passport scan, showing that you’re from one of the countries this visa is available, and that you are between 18 and 30
- A return ticket or proof of sufficent funds to buy one; I did not have a return ticket so instead I provided a pdf copy of the balance page of my internet banking account. I was able to download this statement from my bank’s website when logging in, and then converted the front page of this to a pdf for submitting. I have heard as long as you have more than 1500€ in your account that should be sufficient.
- Medical and hospitalization insurance – although you don’t need this upon first applying, just as long as you have insurance purchased after arriving in the Netherlands (the website states within 4 months)
The application is quick and easy online, fill in the forms, attach the required documents and then hit submit. Once this is all submitted, you have to wait for an email from the IND office for the next step.
STEP 3: PAY FOR THE VISA
The processing date for the working holiday visa is 3 months, but you’ll receive an email quickly after applying asking you now to deposit the required fee into an official Netherlands IND office account. I already had previous email correspondence with an IND official due to a previous application (I’ve started applied for this Working Holiday Visa several times before finally submitting it – at the end of November 2019), so it was only a matter of days until I had an email requesting the payment. It is a minimal 57€ fee for the visa, which is on the lower side of payments for Working Holiday Visas (the German WHV cost 100€ while the United Kingdom visa cost more than 300£. Of course it is worth what you get for any fee.
If you’re in a rush and the IND official hasn’t contacted you – I suggest getting in touch via email to ask if you can pay for the visa (you can find the contact form here). There will be a v number included when you submit your application which is the reference number you should supply in email correspondence so the official is able to easily find your application.
After payment, it won’t be long until you receive a confirmation email – which asks you to schedule an appointment to submit your biometrics.
STEP 4: COMPLETE BIOMETRICS
You’ve sent off your payment and received a confirmation email. Now you need to travel to an IND office in Netherlands, or book an appointment as your nearest one. If you’re submitting the application from abroad you can also book an appointment at the Netherlands embassy closest to you to get your biometric details taken.
Biometric information is your fingerprints, passport photo and signature – and is a fast and simple appointment. I applied within Netherlands, so first I made an appointment on this website: https://ind.nl/en/Pages/Appointment-biometric-information.aspx
Amsterdam seems to have the longest wait time understandably to book an appointment, and if you want one for that booming cultural hub, you’ll have to book it at least two and a half or three weeks in advance. If you need one sooner, you can book an appointment at a smaller city – I for example went to Eindhoven for my biometrics and it was possible to book an appointment time just a few days after receiving the confirmation of payment email.
After booking your appointment, turn up with your passport and v number – and if you’re in Eindhoven enjoy the free coffee, tea or hot chocolate available from the dispenser there. If you’re in Amsterdam you’ll have to pay 50cents for this, but still not bad, especially if you get the appointment early in the morning.
The appointment itself is quick and easy – and straightforward. They take a finger print of each of your fingers, take your passport photo and your signature. If you need you can ask questions here of the IND officials in person. My Schengen tourist time was running out when I was applying for my WHV, so I asked if I was able to still travel to Germany (where I had family). The IND officially was very helpful and replied that as soon as applying for the WHV you change visa status’, so that of a residence seeker. I was able to travel to Germany but just to be safe, they added a sticker into my passport, with a temporary date to allow me to travel officially out of Netherlands while I waited for my resident permit card.
STEP 4: PICK UP YOUR RESIDENCE PERMIT
About a week after giving your biometric details, you’ll receive another email from the IND telling you to make an appointment to pick up your resident permit. You have to again book an appointment online at your local IND office, or you’re able to have the visa sent to an address in Netherlands, if you communicate with them regarding this via email.
This is an even more straightforward appointment, where you pick up your card (which is shiny and a bit holographic in the photo), and that’s about it. Now you’re legally able to work in the Netherlands for a year (the date of expiry will be the date exactly one year from when you started applying – so it might be a bit less than a year actual work time.
STEP 5: REGISTER YOUR ADDRESS AT THE LOCAL MAGISTRATE AND GET A BSN NUMBER
The last and somewhat more tricky step is to register yourself at an address, and you have to do this at the local town hall or council building. You can’t get a BSN number assigned to you, which is like your tax code, until you’ve registered at an address. You’ll need the BSN number in order to work, get paid, pay your taxes and generally be a Dutch citizen.
It does seem a bit counter intuitive that you can’t look for work until you have address, when normally you would get an address once you’ve already secured an income (or maybe not normally, but for a few people on this planet that don’t like to hemorrhage money on accommodation before finding a job). Never the less, you can find a cheap AirBnb and rent there for a month, and register using this before you find a job and a permanent residence.
Of course, you’ll need proof of address to get registered – be that a letter from the home owner saying you’re staying there, or official mail with your name and address printed on it. You’ll need an address to open a bank account, but I would suggest opening a bank account with an online bank such as N26 – which you may not need a permanent address for (you will need a passport, etc).
It is perhaps possible to register using an address you’re not paying rent at, like a friends house (a non-residential address), but you will need confirmation in writing from the home owner and you should definitely make sure the person you’re staying with is fine with you registering using their address – as it may change the amount of tax they pay if another person is registered to live under the roof.
STEP 6: FIND A JOB!
Any job! Almost…
Now you’ve got registered at an address, acquired your BSN number and have found some good discount health and medical insurance for the year, it’s time to find a job. You can finally get that big career job in Rotterdam and work up the Unilever career ladder right?
Well you may have luck but as a warning on the website, since October 1st 2018, you now must change employers every 3 months and cannot stay with one employer for an entire year. I don’t know if there are any other ways around this, like once you find a good office based career employer, would they sponsor you for a regular work visa. I will attempt to find out more information and add this here (message or comment if you’re curious also).
I suppose this is to make it more of a cultural exchange visa and less of a work one. It’s similiar to the Denmark visa where they allow New Zealanders to work for 3 months for one employer and can only work 6 months total even though it’s a year long visa. I’m not sure why countries want to make these visas so restrictive as it heavily tightens the range of options of jobs available. Perhaps this makes this more of a seasonal work or bar job visa, rather than an in the city, office or marketing type visa.
It’s worded on the website as such:
The worlds you’re oyster, and if you want to work for longer, there are other visas out there like the Au Pair visa, or the option of getting sponsored for a particular job, if you’re in an in demand vocation.
The German WHV allows one years work and you can work for an employer for that entire time, and the UK allows the same for two years. Canada also allows for 2 years with any employer/time length, and you can apply for this up to 35. For New Zealanders you also have Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria and more on offer to apply for. Of course most of these have the age limit of 30 which is a bit agest, but at least up to your 31st birthday you can have the chance to work outside of New Zealand and Australia. A few countries such as Ireland and France you must apply for from New Zealand and not overseas (one of the benefits of Germany and Netherlands is that you can apply from overseas).
So good luck, happy working, happy traveling – happy living!