November 18, 2010 Los Angeles, CA – More American students and recent grads are embracing the concept of a gap year as studies show increases in graduation rates among those who choose to do a gap year.
Additionally, the benefits are increasingly being recognized by major universities with Harvard, Princeton and Yale all offering deferments for a gap year.
In the last year, Australia has seen a substantial increase in its in travel, study and work abroad programs by young Americans. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Customs (DIAC) recently reported that Working Holiday Visa grants in the USA increased 25 percent from 2008/2009 to 2009/2010.
The concept of a gap year, typically a time of international travel and work between high school and college or college and full-time employment, has long been embraced by Europe and Australia, but has been slower to catch on in the United States until now.
Australia’s ‘Work and Holiday’ visa program allows American students and recent graduates (ages 18 to 30) the opportunity to work, travel and study in the country for a 12-month period.
Education Week recently reported on two studies linking participation in a gap year to increased graduation rates, noting “time off may help students become more motivated to complete a degree after they come home.”
As President Obama has announced he wants to double college graduation rates by 2020, it is possible more colleges and universities may also encourage this time abroad.
“There are many factors that influence a student’s success in college and what this research shows is that one of those elements might be time spent abroad,” said Daryl Hudson, Regional General Manager, Americas, Tourism Australia. “A gap year can be an opportunity for both building self-reliance and self-discovery and can help young people better decide what they want out of life or their college experience.”
For those young people looking to spend their time abroad, numerous resources are available. Companies like STA Travel , Down Under Answers, Visit Oz offer various resources like work and travel packs with help for finding accommodation, healthcare, bank set-up, obtaining tax file numbers, job search and discounted travel.
Some sample options include STA week-long ranch hand training course from $1990 and Down Under Answer’s Sydney Surf, Work and Play deal from $809.* Visit Oz job placement offers experience working on host farms, in pubs, vineyards or education tutoring.
“When young Americans look into the visa, they will find there’s nothing like Australia for options to work, study and of course travel,” concluded Mr. Hudson.
U.S. citizens can either apply for the visa online or by completing an application form and lodging it with the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate.
*Prices current as of November 15, 2010.
What is the purpose of the Work and Holiday visa?
The Work and Holiday visa program provides opportunities for young people for social and cultural exchange and promotes mutual understanding between Australia and other nations.
* What is the duration of the visa and can it be renewed?
The Work and Holiday visa allows a stay of up to 12 months in Australia.
What are the eligibility requirements for the visa?
US citizens wishing to come to Australia must:
o be aged 18 to 30 inclusive
o be outside of Australia when they apply for and are granted the visa
o show evidence that they are enrolled in a post secondary course of study or hold post secondary qualifications
o have a return ticket or sufficient funds for a return or onward fare as well as sufficient funds for the first part of their stay, and
o meet health and character requirements.
What is the definition of ‘student’ under the arrangement? The definition of ‘student’ is a person who is currently studying or deferred, or a person who has graduated from a post-secondary institution within the previous 12 months. Australia will include all graduates of post secondary courses.
What opportunities are there for young people who are not post secondary students or do not have a post secondary qualification? Young US citizens may be eligible under the Youth from the US Programme, which is a four month work programme for people sponsored under this arrangement.
Can visa holders work?
US citizens holding a Work and Holiday visa in Australia can work for each employer for up to six months and are able to work for the entire 12 months of the visa. There are no restrictions on the type of work that may be undertaken.
Can visa holders study? US citizens holding a visa in Australia can study for up to four months. There is no restriction on the type of study.
* Where do I apply for this visa? US citizens can either apply for the visa over the Internet or by completing an application form and lodging it with the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate. Application forms will be available on the Internet and from Australian Embassies from the date the arrangement commences.
* Where can I find further information on the programme? US citizens can find further information about traveling to Australia at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website.
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