04 September 2012

Iceland’s youth petition for working holiday visa

A group of young Icelanders have launched a petition to request the country's youth be granted access to Australia's hugely popular working holiday visa program.

Australia visa

Icelandic youth want access to the Australian working holiday visa program

The working holiday visa allows people aged from 18 to 30 to live and work in Australia for up to a year. The visa allows the holder easy access to Australia while the host country gains valuable labour.

Most working holiday visa programs are also reciprocal. Australia's working holiday visa program is currently open to citizens of 19 countries:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • UK

Australia also has the work and holiday visa program which allows citizens from a further 20 countries similar benefits.

The program has proved extremely popular in recent years, over 35,000 young British people travelled to Australia on a working holiday visa last year alone, a further 6,000 chose to extend their visas by a further 12 months.

Yet, despite Europe dominating the list of eligible countries, Iceland is conspicuously absent. Members of the Nordic country's younger population are making efforts to change that.

A petition has started asking for signatures in order to be presented to the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the hope that an agreement can be reached with Australia.

The petition's author, Þrúður Helgadóttir, says Iceland is falling behind the rest of Europe. Ms Helgadóttir, who runs a backpacking travel website, says Icelanders are desperate to visit Australia but find their travelling options are limited due to visa policies.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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