So, you want move to the land of the lush green isles and Guinness beer? Uh, me too buddy! Curious to know if you can or if there is a way for you to do? I know how you feel. Until I started looking into different options, I didn’t really know that there was a way to move abroad until I started asking question. The hardest part after deciding to move abroad was the application process itself for the Working Holiday Application (WHA) to get my visa for a year. The WHA is a temporary visa for students or recent graduates to have the opportunity to move to Ireland for up to a year (you are not required to stay the entire year if you do not wish).
I’m going break down the application step by step, dollar sign by dollar sign, and then roughly how long each step will take. Basically, I am going to break it down so hopefully all the steps I had to redo because they weren’t clear or clarified enough by (*coughs* sources that will not be named) will be much easier for you.
You can apply for the WHA in two ways – through a program that will help you transition or on your own through the Irish Embassy/Consulate. Either way, the form you will apply with is the same. There are Two Stages you will go through when applying for your visa.
WHA – STAGE ONE
The Application: The application is about five pages and pretty straight forward. You just fill out all the main details of your life, etc., and then attach the following required documents with the application when you send it:
Photocopy of Your Valid Passport: it must be valid for ONE year after the date of your arrival in Ireland
2 Recent Passport Photos: Around $14. Who knew passport photos had gotten more expensive?
A Current Resume/CV
*A College Transcript, Letter from your School’s Registrar Office, or Diploma: this will prove that you are part-time, still in school, or have graduated within the last 12 months. *When you are sending your college transcripts, send them directly to your designated Embassy/Consulate. This one does not have to be part of your application when you mail it. ($10)
Original Banking Statement: You will need an official bank statement to prove you have at least $4000 USD in checking/savings. The best way to do this is either take a previous banking statement or go to your bank and have them print one off for you. It must have the bank’s official stamp on it and have the teller sign it. Some banks charge a $6 fee for this.
The Embassy/Consulate Fee: Either by money order, cashier’s check, or a bank draft is the only way to pay the non-refundable fee. It will range from $352-$360 depending on the Embassy/Consulate. Cashier’s check is the recommended method because it is the safest and has a $10 fee.
You can either mail all of your documents (use certified mail) or you can take them in person your designated Embassy/Consulate. If you take your documents they can possibly get them done that day if everything is in order, or you can mail them and it can take up to 6-8 weeks to hear back.
While you are waiting you will want to start trying to make your INIS Appointment for when you get to Ireland. This appointment will have to be in Dublin (even if you are planning on living somewhere else). They have quite the wait, so add it as a book mark to your browser and check it often if you know when you are planning on leaving for Ireland so if you see an opening you can take it. The only time I ever found openings posted was in-between 7:00-7:30am EST (so around noon in Ireland). This appointment is INCREDIBLY important, this office in Dublin is going to approve your visa and allow you to work in Ireland. Oh, and have your credit card ready. It is a €300 charge.
WHA – STAGE 2
Woop Woop! You officially recieved confirmation that your paper work is in order and you can move on to Stage 2! Stage 2 is less work but has a hefty price tag to it.
Plane Tickets: So, you need your entry and exit ticket and if you are going for a year you probably realized you can’t really book a round trip ticket. No worries, book a one way to Dublin to get set up and then book a ticket out of Ireland anywhere (EXPECT THE UK). Literally, book it for Paris, Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany, etc., for dirt cheap. When you go they need proof that at some point during your stay you are going to leave the country. Once you are there and flights become available towards the end of your trip you can book your actual ticket home. Depending on when you book your flight and from where it can range in price from $200-$400 (most likely).
Health Insurance: Now for health insurance if you are going through a company they will probably offer you a health plan, and I would recommend that. It’s the guarantee that you won’t have issues with it. If you’re not, there are tons of travel companies, like STA Travel, or even your own health insurance provider that offer travel health insurance plans. Just make sure that the plan covers WORLDWIDE coverage and if you can get it even more detailed to Ireland that is best. Some Embassy/Consulates are very detailed and won’t approve your health insurance unless they know you will be covered in Ireland. Travel health insurance can also range in depending on either your provider or the company you get it from. To ballpark it I would say it can range from $300-$675.
Your Passport: The last thing they need is to verify your passport. This is again one of those times where you either send it all to them or take it in person. I have a phobia of being separated from my passport, so I decided on this particular occasion to take some time off and go to the Consulate myself.
If you mail Stage 2, it will take a few weeks to be approved again (sorry, everything is a little slower). Going in person it took about a week to get my visa after my appointment.
After everything is complete and you have your WHA visa and you better invest in a good rain coat, start making lists, and get packing!
xx A Traveler’s Bliss | Grace Anne
*screaming internally from behind my laptop*
Finally. This has been a project in the works for quite some time now – a lot of heartache, planning, and hoping – that this would all finally work out and now that it is official I am so excited to share it with everyone. I would like to apologize for keeping on the down-low and being so secretive for so long, but with a life change this big I didn’t want to make too many waves if it didn’t work out. Plus, I have to admit, there was a tiny part of me the entire time that was completely terrified it wouldn’t work out and nothing would have made me sadder than to tell everyone the dream did not come true. But as the title so happily exclaimed, I will be moving to Ireland next month (more screaming).
You probably have a lot of questions by now. Like why Ireland? What prompted me to move abroad? How long are you going for? Do you know anybody there? Why now? What are you going to be doing? Guy, - hakuna matata.
A couple of months ago, I was really struggling; I had a commissioned photography job right after graduation and after it ended it was hard to stay positive and on my feet. No matter how many photography jobs I applied for, none of them seemed to be the one as the silence or rejection letters can rolling back in. Now some of you are probably like “That’s normal,” or “That’s not such a big deal your right out of college,” trust me, I’ve heard it all and said it a million times myself, but it still didn’t sound true in my head. I felt like I wasn’t making opportunities but was waiting around for them, feeling trapped by my situation and everything was beginning to feel out of my control. After beating myself up a bit over it, I decided I needed to change my approach, my mindset, and create opportunities for myself. Back in October, I started looking at opportunities to work or volunteer abroad. Nowhere in particular, but I just needed to get active and get moving around with my camera.
I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time, I was just on a mission to find an experience or an opportunity to try and learn something new and hopefully be able to do photography at the same time. After a few weeks of research, I discovered a program, BUNAC and their program to work in Ireland for a year. BUNAC is a program for students or young adults a year out of college that helps them get their visa, jobs, and basically get started in another country when they move abroad for a year. They have programs in a few places around the world and are based out of the UK with a center in the US, as well. After a while, it just made sense. I’ve never made it to Ireland when I was studying abroad in London, and if I’m living in Ireland I’ll be so close to London I can go back anytime.
While I spent a lot of time researching until I was positive it was the right choice for me, I didn’t actually decide to apply or begin the process of applying until January. In January, I applied through BUNAC and began the Irish Working Holiday Application (WHA) process to get my visa and began to plan the possible move to Ireland. It took a few days to sort out all of the information, fill out all of the forms, pay the fees (ugh, money.), but the worst part was the waiting. After I sent my documents to the Irish Consulate in Chicago it was about a 4-8 week waiting period for Stage One of the visa to be completed. At times, the weeks seemed to drag on and on and then, almost instantly, it felt like two weeks had gone by and still no news. I did not handle the anticipation or the endless agony of not knowing well.
But if I had any patience, I wouldn’t have minded the knowing wait. Eventually, I received my confirmation for my Stage One application and went to Chicago shortly after to complete Stage Two to get my working holiday visa.
Now trust me, in writing this sounds like this was a walk in the park but this is me we are talking about so trust me guys, something went wrong on every step. I had some issues on step one and had to resend some forms (so that delayed Stage One a bit) and when I went to Chicago my travel health insurance just wasn’t quite detailed enough (of course). I had to coordinated with BUNAC and the health insurance provider to get addition information to fulfil Stage Two requirements for the visa (the stress level while I was in Chicago was beyond high. Thank god for good friends and scoring some cheap Hamilton tickets to keep me going). In the end, everything came together.
My visa is good for a year so I am planning on living in Ireland for the entire year. If something goes wrong, emergency, etc., then the plan will change. I am going to be coordinating with the Dublin team through BUNAC to find a place to live and a job (probably something in the hospitality industry but you never know I might be able to find something in the photography industry). And ultimately, I will be doing a lot of photography, you can count on that.
So ultimately, I will be packing my bags taking off next month. Hopefully I will have the apartment and job somewhat sorted out before I get to Ireland (that is the current goal), but I am kinda going with the flow right now and I hope you all will join me for it.
My inbox is always open so feel free to send some love, tips for Ireland (still prepping), and any questions I can answer.
xx A Traveler's Bliss | Grace Anne
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)