An American Abroad: Guide to a Working Holiday Authorisation

Working abroad in a beautiful country full of history, music, culture, and an array of accents is the dream for many Americans. It allows one the opportunity to live within another culture and learn how to adapt to different social surroundings, as well as explore a beautiful new country. The romance of it all is enough to distract you from just how finicky the bureaucratic process can be – especially with  Visas. Take it from me; I’ve lived in four different countries now (mostly on student visas) and am now in Ireland on a Working Holiday Authorisation. I went through all the paperwork and planning; the stress and mess and now I want to help you out so you too can have the adventure of a lifetime here in Ireland. Without further ado, here’s a guide to a Working Holiday Authorisation.

What is a Working Holiday Authorisation?
  • It’s a visa valid for one year from the point of entry that allows you to work and travel throughout Ireland and work without a specific employment visa
    • Disclaimer: This visa is only to be used in Ireland; it is not valid in other EU countries

The Application

Who can apply?
  • You must be above the age of 18
  • You must be enrolled full-time in post-secondary education (not online) leading to an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate Degree or you must have graduated from post-secondary education as mentioned above and graduated within 12 months of visa application submission
    •  Tip: get the application in early. Once issued, you can enter Ireland within 6 months of your proposed date of entry. This does not affect the duration of your visa. It will still be valid for 12 months from entry – planning ahead will save you a lot of stress

How to apply?

Stage 1

The first stage is for your visa assessment application and whether or not you will be granted one. 

    • You can print out the application form here
      • Tip: Do some research: look into what city/cities you want to be in and check to see what jobs are available in advance.
    • What you’ll need:
      • Completed visa application
      • 2 passport photos with your name printed on the back (get ones in European dimensions– you will have to ask the photographer specifically if they do these sizes)
      • CV and Cover Letter as well as 2 references
      • A photocopy of your passport (passport must be valid for a full year after ticketed date of entry)
      • Evidence that you are enrolled/graduated from post secondary education
        • E.g. diploma, transcripts, letter from the university –These must be original documents
      • An original bank statement showing that you have at least $4000 – you can ask a teller at your personal bank to print and stamp one for you
        • This is why planning ahead is good. I don’t know a whole lot of college students/grads who have 4 grand lying around…
      • You must have a cashier’s check for the visa fee as well as return postage


  • This fee is different for each consulate, be sure to double check what you’ll be paying on


Stage 2

 In my experience, they respond very quickly after you submit your documents for stage 1. I sent my documents in on the 19th of June and received a response on the 25th. This response will tell you if they will allow you to proceed with the application. 

If they do allow you to proceed, congratulations! You got this one in the bag. Here are the final steps of the Visa Process in Stage 2

  • You will need:
    • Return airline tickets (they don’t have to be from or to the states, they just have to prove that you’ll leave the country when your visa is up)
      • If you aren’t able to book your flight out of Ireland a year in advance, just buy a flexible ticket for the furthest possible date (you can always change it later)
    • Certificate of medical coverage for the duration of your stay (based on the ticket dates) – send the letter that details the coverage you are entitled to as well as a photocopy of the card 
    • Your original United States Passport valid for one full year after your ticketed date of entry 

Once the consulate has received these documents and are satisfied, they will issue you your WHA! 


Before You Leave

      • There’s a long waiting list and finding appointments can be hard. Bot sites have  been known to book up the appointments and sell them back to you. These bot sites do indeed give you appointments (I had to do this as I came very unprepared) but this shouldn’t cost money. Be careful, book it in advance. If you can’t find an appointment on the website, call the immigration centre and they’ll help you. You need to have a GNIB issued within 90 days of entering Ireland. Immigration will ask about this.
    • Apply to jobs before you come
      • Immigration will ask if you have applied anywhere. Show them proof that you have applied and that you are actively searching. 
  • Have your booking confirmation PRINTED OUT. -Immigration doesn’t like phones. Which leads to my next point…
    • This includes ALL of the documents that you sent in with your application
      • Application
      • CV and Cover Letter
      • Proof of funds
      • Medical insurance letter and card
      • Transcripts
      • Hostel/accommodation booking confirmation
      • Return airline ticket confirmation
      • Your WHA 
    • If your experience is anything like mine was, they will ask to see ALL of these things. Have them ready when you approach the desk.
    • A PPS (personal public service number) is like an Irish Social Security number. These appointments also get booked up quickly and there’s no option to buy one. Book one early because you need one to get paid. For more information on PPS numbers, check out our page here
    • Once you have your PPS number you’re ready to get a bank account! Check out our page on that here.
    • I’m not going to lie – it’s very hard to find a place here. Chances are you’ll either be sharing a room with one or two others or you’ll be living a good bit out of the city. My best advice: go on the ‘Rent in Dublin’ Facebook page and make a post about yourself. This should have:
        • Your age
        • Nationality
        • How close to the city centre you want to be (walking, by Luas/bus, etc.)
        • What you do (in your case, working)
        • What you’re willing to pay per month
        • If you wanted a private or shared room
      • I messaged loads of people with no luck, but as soon as I made a post about myself I got a message straight away from my current flatmate and it’s all be grand!
    • For more information on Accommodation, check out our page here


These are all my tips to prepare you for your Working Holiday Authorisation in Ireland! If you have any other questions email Good luck!


Emma Grove
Emma Grove

Emma is a Californian-native, a food lover, and a Journalist for Babylon Radio. With a MA(Hons) from the University of Glasgow, Emma is interested in everything musical and cultural going on in Ireland!

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