Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Have you ever thought about the possibilities of working outside your home country? There are a few countries that have agreements with America that allow you to work abroad. If you apply for a work visa and get approved, you can normally work in the host country for up to a year.
Depending on the country, some work visas are particularly for recent college graduates and some are geared towards short term travelers. For example, Chad had a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) and worked abroad in Australia for one year on a farm. His work included hard labor and long hours. It paid very well, and he was able to travel this part of the world.
In this post I am only speaking about a WHV for Americans in Ireland. So, the US-Ireland Working Holiday Agreement allows US citizens to work abroad and travel for up to 12 months. Detailed information about the agreement is found on dfa.ie.
Let’s get the facts first:
"The Working Holiday Agreement between Ireland and the US allows Irish and US citizens to work and travel in each other's country for up to 12 months. "
You must be over the age of 18.
In college full-time or has graduated within the past 12 months.
How to Apply Stage 1
· Complete and print the application form
· Make a photocopy of your passport (make sure that it’s valid for at least a full year)
· Get 2 identical passport photos taken (go to Walgreens or a photo center)
· Have your resume up to date and two references on it
· Have evidence that you are a full-time student (official transcripts or a letter from the
· Have an original bank statement saying you have access to at least $4,000. If this is not
possible you can have a willing parent, or someone transfer you the money for this purpose only, then print out the statement, then transfer it back.
· The relevant fee in the form of a check – approx. $352.
Put all these documents in an envelope to send. Depending on which state you live, you will
send these off to the relevant embassy. I sent my information off to the Consulate General of
Ireland New York: 345 Park Ave., New York, NY 1054, USA
After passing this stage you should receive an e-mail saying to continue onto stage 2.
You must submit these documents:
Return airline tickets. Honestly, you can purchase any airplane ticket if it’s leaving Ireland
before the end of your visa (the 12th month). I purchased the cheapest ticket. It was a $20 ticket
going from Ireland to England about 8 months after my arrival to Ireland. I did not plan to get on
this flight. Simply print out the confirmation that you purchased this ticket.
Certificate of medical insurance. You will need proof that you have international coverage
abroad. Ask your current health provider, and if they don’t offer international insurance they
may be able to provide you with information. I purchased the cheapest health insurance I could get. I ended up purchasing a plan through IMG insurance. Many travel insurance companies are priced around $1,200 for the year.
I purchased the Patriot Travel Medical Insurance for $193.20. This covers me for the full year. I purchased it in September 2018 and planned to use it for the entire year of 2019. I won’t go to
in depth about the health insurance in this blog, but my deductible is $2,500 with my maximum limit of $50,000.
Personally, after looking at other travel insurance options, the Patriot Travel Medical Insurance is not bad health coverage. Many circumstances are 100% covered.
Your original Passport. Don’t worry you will get this back quick.
Once you have these documents ready to go, send them off to the embassy. Make sure you pay extra for tracking information. They will then send all the information back and the acceptance letter. You may also receive an e-mail. Make sure you keep the official acceptance letter (the agreement) safe and don’t forget to bring it to Ireland. Border control will ask to see it.
Okay, the hard part is done.
What Else Do I Need?
So, another important thing to consider is as soon as you get to Ireland you will have to get something like an employment number. You need this to apply for jobs. For this you will physically go to the nearest Garda Naturalization and Immigration Bureau. You have 90 days to do this. The price of this employment number is 300 euros. Make sure you make an appointment.
The entire process took about 5 weeks.
Finding a Job in Ireland
Now you are ready to look for a job. Of course, you are more than welcome to connect with companies while still in the states, but many will tell you to reach out once you’re in Ireland. It won’t be awfully difficult to get a job in Ireland, in whatever field you are in. Also, you don’t necessarily have to do something in your field; you can get a part time gig doing whatever. You will though have the capability of working full time and earning good money.
I reached out to several companies via LinkedIn and Indeed. I did not commit much time to applying before arriving, but I did apply to some that intrigued me. I emailed all Universities and heard back from most. They said to reach back out upon arrival. I also applied to a few marketing agencies, one I had an online interview with.
Make sure you tailor your resume to Ireland. Make it in the format of a CV, also make sure your location states Ireland, even if you are applying before you arrive. Many companies will not consider you if you don’t live in Ireland. I put on my resume “Eligible to work in the United States and in Ireland on a WHA”. Put your Skype name and LinkedIn on your resume. Put your phone as well, but once in Ireland if you don’t have an Irish number and do not have access to your U.S. number do not put a phone number. Most companies will reach out via email.
The best thing that I can suggest for work is to sign up with employment agencies. They will give you some tests to complete then find you work anywhere based on your skillset. It could be one week of work, a part time contract, or full time work.
Keep in mind, unless you are in the bigger cities, it will be harder to find a job. It will not be likely for you to find a job on the countryside. Thus, if you decide to live in the countryside, either buy or rent a car or work from home.
After you obtain a job in Ireland, you will need a PPS number. This is for tax purposes and you can register with the Department of Social Protection. Make sure you have your passport, your new Garda number (employment number), and letter proof of employment.
You will need an Irish bank account for many things in Ireland. Obviously, you need it if you get a physical job in Ireland. Also, many phone providers need it to put you on a contract. There are many popular banks in Ireland, such as AIB and Permanent TSB. You will need an appointment and make sure you bring proper documents, like proof of address.
This is dependent on where you want to be located. I think it’s a good idea to know what city or area you want to be located. Will you have a car? How much are you willing to spend? When you look at apartment pricing you will find that Ireland is in a housing crisis, in particularly Dublin.
Expect to pay $1,300 a month for a small apartment. Apartment shopping in Ireland is much different than in America. Once you make an appointment for a viewing, a dozen other people might be visiting the apartment as a possible tenant. Have documents with you. Bring references and have proof of employment or some sort of income. Rather than staying in an apartment Chad and I decided to get a long-term Airbnb. All in all, the Airbnb cost us about $200 less a month than the average apartment in Cork. Also, it includes everything we need; thus we don’t need purchase anything additional.
If you are anything like me, you want to be 100% ready for your adventure and you don’t want surprises to hit you in the face. Before I went to Ireland, I talked with my accountant. I wanted to understand how employment taxes would work. Everyone’s situation is different, but I will give a small insight. When you get a job in Ireland, you will pay Ireland's taxes. The job will automatically take out your taxes (just like your current American job). But wait, you are still an American citizen and have to pay taxes on your worldwide income. Here is the good news, citizens living and working outside of the United States for more than 330 days are entitled to foreign earned income exclusion. For more detailed information visit irs.gov or talk to your accountant.
There are programs you can go through to go through this whole process with you. They will help you with the application process. They will also help you find accommodation a job and more. One company is USIT Travel. I did not utilize this service, as it does cost.
Make sure before arrival you have all the documents ready. Border control may ask to see them. Bring the official agreement with you. Also, everything you sent off to apply for stage 1 and 2. Bring it with you in the same folder as the agreement. For example, bring your resume, proof that you’re a student or a recent student and bank details.
Whether you plan to live in Dublin or not, it may be a good idea to have accommodation booked for a few days upon arrival. This will allow you to obtain that employment number if needed.
Other things to consider
Are you going to pay for an international plan? I stopped my plan back in the states and decided to go without cellular. If you want a phone, the best option is to get a sim card and put it in your phone. This will let you call and text Irish numbers. It should also give you data.
You are about to move away for up to a year? Ireland's weather is extremely unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean you only need winter clothes. Ireland is quite cold and rainy, bring clothes that will keep you warm. Two pairs of sweats and comfy clothes for all the rainy days. Make sure you bring a hat and gloves. The bar/pub scene is very casual. Jeans and a blouse is perfect. As I only travel with a Carry-on, you can imagine how much I brought with me. So far, I’ve been perfectly fine. Ireland also has the cheap stores where you can buy the things you need. Don’t come with toiletries, they will take up so much space and weight. Buy after arrival.
Just do it
The opportunity to work abroad is great. There are many other countries that allow us Americans to do it. I choose Ireland because it is quite accessible to home and they have a lot of opportunities for college students or recent college grads. Even if you are currently enrolled in college, this is a great opportunity if you ever considered a gap year. If you are a recent graduate like me, it is a great opportunity to beef up your resume, work for some top companies and explore the world.
As a general tourist, you will not be able to work, which means you cannot have incoming money. Work abroad agreements are the best route for doing this.
We are here to help. Whether you want a WHA for Ireland or Australia. Ask us any questions!