Non-Australian citizens must obtain a visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before visiting Australia. New Zealand citizens are issued a visa on arrival (VOA). ETAs are valid for continuous stays up to three months, and valid for one year. For example, you can go to Australia for three months, fly to Thailand for a month, return to Australia for another three months, visit Indonesia for a month, and return to Australia again. ETAs can be applied for and issued online. You must have a passport from one of these countries to apply for an ETA. If you do not have a passport from one of the participating countries, refer to the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website. Some travel agents will apply for an ETA for you. Make sure you know if your ticket has included the necessary visa. Please note that you CANNOT WORK if you hold an ETA visa.
Many backpackers wish to work in Australia. If this is the case, you must apply for the proper visa, such as the Working Holiday Makers Visa. Unfortunately, only backpackers from a handful of countries can apply for this visa, and you must be between the ages of 18 and 30. With the Working Holiday Makers Visa, young adults are able to work for up to a year in Australia, although they must change jobs every three months. United States citizens cannot receive the Working Holiday Makers Visa, however, they are eligible for the Special Program Youth USA.
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The Special Program Youth USA is a visa that allows youth adults (18-30) to work for up to four months in Australia. However, you must go through a sponsoring organization such as BUNAC or Work Experience Down Under.