The Dark Path: Working Holiday "Loophole" For Young Singaporeans

Hi Nix,

I am a Singaporean looking to move to Perth for about a year or so? Not sure if i want to permanently stay there. I have some questions for you, I'm 20, how hard is it to find a part-time job to sustain my time (3-6months) in perth? Like will it be easy to get a simple job? I've read the one about the night fillers i'm sure I'm up to that, what about getting jobs at places like starbucks? Is it advisable?

I admire your lifestyle in Perth and I'm really happy for you. Another question is that will I be able to learn driving there as a foreigner? I don't have a driving licence, not even a singaporean one. If my highest qualification is O levels (and I have some freelance film making experience), can I still apply for the working visa? Thanks.

I hope you are able to answer some of my questions and I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest Regards

Hi Raeann,

According to [link], the countries eligible for working-holiday visa (subclass 462) are;

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom.
And countries eligible for Work and Holiday Visa [link] (subclass 417);

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Chile
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Poland
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • USA
  • Uruguay

Both visas and identical requirements and allow a successful applicant to

  • stay in Australia for up to 12 months
  • work in Australia for up to six months with each employer
  • study for up to four months
  • leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid.
So to be honest, I do not know what is the key difference between Subclass 462 and 417. I have personally met many young people from different countries on Working Holiday visas and nobody told me their experience hadn't been fulfilling. I reckon this kind of thing is best suited for young people like you who has no financial or family commitment yet. It's a great time to see more of the world and learn from life experiences like that.

Now the bad news - if you have noticed by now Singapore is not one of the countries eligible. If this isn't bitter enough, according to the list your foreign talent from Bangladesh gets the nod from the Australia immi. So would Luiz Suarez, if he had received a lifetime ban during his youth for chewing off someone's genitals on the field. But not Singaporeans. Sorry for the anti-climax. So much for 'First-World' nation.

Perhaps the Australian immigration thought all Singaporeans defecate at the walkways of MRT stations as and when we please. Therefore even dogs could migrate to Australia for a price but not Singaporean youth who just want a long, self-funded walkabout around Australia. I don't know who gets the blame, Australia or Singapore. However, wise people taught us to stop wasting precious time blaming idiots or things that are not within your control at the moment.

I reckoned the next best thing you can do is STUDY ENGINEERING. I'm sorry I have to suggest this, since that is probably the most terrible curse on the spell book. Once you walk this dark path, there is no return without paying a high price. It rips your brain and you'll never be the same again. Be warned.

I used to think this is an awfully expensive option. What I had in mind was of course the Temporary Graduate Visa [link] (subclass 485). This requires young people like you to study and graduate in Australia - which really hurt the pocket because paying the international rate is insanity.

Then I got to know this gem of a visa only a few days ago. You have Alex Tan to thank for. If you do not know who is Alex Tan, it is best to remain so. Heh heh. Nonetheless this chap was so adamant of leaving Singapore that he tried every nook and crevice he could. And failed. Until he received notifications that his Skilled-Recognised Graduate Visa [link] (Subclass 476) is granted. Prior to this, I've never heard of such a visa. Within 5 minutes of reading up, I realised many Singaporean youths can realise their dreams of working in Australia (possibly permanently) under this visa. If I knew about this when I was still in my 20s, I would have certainly take this route. If I could kick my own balls I would. 

What Subclass 476 does for Singaporean youth (who are banned from Working-holiday visa) is that 

- you can study in Singapore, at a much lower cost. 
Washington Accord institutions (please find out more by reading up) are recognised for this visa. That makes many engineering degree programs in Singapore eligible at a much lower cost. (think MDIS).  While I do not advocate taking up studies in a field you have absolutely no interest in, I'm sorry to say this is the most beneficial method I know for now.

- the visa allows you and your family to stay up to 18 months in Australia.
18 months is a long time for anyone to search for a job. You are eligible to work but what you should be focusing on is getting a job from an employer who is willing to sponsor you for a working visa (Subclass 457). This working visa (for now) gives you an opportunity to apply for the permanent resident visa eventually, if you want to stay in Australia longer. Else, you can simply work and travel Australia by taking up casual jobs and return to Singapore when your visa expires.

- "and your family"
I will not elaborate on too much. This is imbal and OP. If you are a gamer, you'll understand what I mean.

- most beneficial
I mentioned about this above. In my opinion, higher education does us good. When I was at your age, I was the biggest 'slacker' around. Trust me on that, my friends and wife can vouch. I don't want to study or upgrade myself because I used to think a degree is just a piece of paper. I still think so today. It is still a piece of useless junk if we don't take anything out of it. The degree program I took opened up my mind and allowed me to see the world in a different perspective. It's a strange thing for someone who attended the least lessons in my course (I skipped my entire 2nd year and barely turned up at lectures for final year), so imagine the possibilities if you work much harder than me. It might lead you beyond the boundaries you couldn't even imagine today. After all, beneath our skins are just bones and blood. Nothing really differentiates us except for our minds. So I don't think subjecting yourself through a mind empowering process is a bad idea. Having said that, if you have no interest in engineering, forget everything I've said and dodge the dark path.

That's all I want to say. Good luck.


  1. Unfortunately my friend, this fiscal year from july 2014, Australia no longer recognized Singapore universities' engineering degree for 476. So this avenue is now closed for young Singaporeans too!

    1. Procrastination gets people nowhere.

      For people still thinking about whether they should migrate, think some more.

      To misquote Yoda, do or do not, there is no think.

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    3. Could it be that it is not "no longer recognised" but they are 'hidden' under Washington Accord institutions?

      Singapore is not listed in the webpage of subclass 476 under the tab of “Recognised institutions”, but if some specific engineering courses from NUS, NTU, SIM, RMIT (at SIC) etc are recognised by WAi, would they not be in turn recognised under 476?

      Or as Yoda might also say “do, no think”?

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