I think I'll stay here for awhile.
October 22, 2014 8:09 PM   Subscribe

I was traveling through Central Europe last month and stayed in some pretty cool hostels. The staff were really cool and hung out with you, and were more like friends than your typical hostel staff. One thing I noticed is that most of them just landed there. Some have been there 3 months with the intention to stay another 6, some have been there a year. They just happened to visit for a few days and then started working at the hostel. My question: how is this done? I have a hard time believing they could get a work visa for this sort of thing, or does that exist? Or do people that do this just come on your typical 90-day tourist entry and illegally stay longer and just deal with the consequences when they leave?
posted by signondiego to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think that people from EU countries can work in any other EU country without any additional paperwork. So if they are just from other EU countries it would be really easy for them to stay.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:28 PM on October 22, 2014

Response by poster: I should clarify: the people I'm referring to were mainly Australians and Americans, staying in countries where a Working Holiday visa is most definitely not offered. I was just a little fascinated/intrigued by it.
posted by signondiego at 8:34 PM on October 22, 2014

For the Australians, you'll probably find that they're paid in cash (so yes, working illegally), and that on day 89 of their visa they take a day trip across a border and back.
posted by pompomtom at 8:36 PM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

(also, if we're talking EU, loads of Australians have European passports by descent)
posted by pompomtom at 8:40 PM on October 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

I was halfway through explaining working holiday visas when you posted your clarification. That said: this article suggests that Canadians, and to a lesser extent Australians and New Zealanders, can get working visas in a number of central European countries (including Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic, which you mentioned in your last post). That doesn't explain the Americans though.
posted by Pink Frost at 8:40 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I met an American working at a hostel in Hungary who had applied for and received a working visa of some sort after he decided to stay. I don't know if he had the support of the hostel or if he was paid under the table until he received the visa.
posted by wrabbit at 8:43 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

People I know who have done this started off in London on a Working Holiday Visa, which allows them to work there for up to two years, and leave and return as many times as they like during that period. They used time off to travel around the rest of Europe, and some of them ended up working temporarily, which sometimes turned into longer-term, in other parts of Europe. While I'm pretty sure that isn't actually allowed under the terms of the UK Working Holiday visa, you aren't likely to get stopped and interrogated going between Continental Europe and the UK, and you have a legitimate visa for being present in Europe, and for earning money (just not in the country you happen to be doing it in). So you can manage to get the necessary bank accounts and so on without trouble, and you just have to make sure you get paid under the table to avoid other problems. I'm pretty sure there are youth hostels that pay people under the table.

Secondly, I know some cases where people get free board and food at a youth hostel in exchange for working there part time, but they aren't actually getting paid any money, so I think that might get around working restrictions. Having a Working Holiday Visa for the UK that lets you actually be in Europe would get around residency problems, and then you're set.

Finally, as someone mentioned above, I know more Australians and New Zealanders with European second passports than without.
posted by lollusc at 9:08 PM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

They're working for room and board. No money changes hands. Also, in my experience, people don't do this for a terribly long time. Usually it's for only a few months, maybe up to a year or so in countries with very loose immigration policies.

If you were living abroad on a working holiday visa, you'd get a job that wasn't scrubbing toilets and dishing out continental breakfast.
posted by Sara C. at 10:34 PM on October 22, 2014

I did this.

I worked in a youth hostel in Copenhagen over two seasons in the mid-90s. I applied for the 'job' and essentially did it as a volunteer gig. I did not get paid for it at all. I got free room and board while I was 'volunteering' as well as a few weeks here and there as 'vacation'. One season, I also got a train ticket to Jutland (paid for out of petty cash), but I wasn't paid for any of my work.

I also stayed on after my second season and worked for the non-profit organization that ran the hostel--again as a volunteer. For this, I received room and board, as well as another two train tickets to Fyn and then to Hamburg.

Even though they got the better of this deal both years, it was 100% worth it.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:39 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I did this in South America. I am from the US. Yeah, you just cross a border every 89 days, and you're working for room and board. Generally, I'd get a second job under the table - bartending, teaching english, or bike-taxi-ing, so I could make beer money.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 11:40 PM on October 22, 2014

Also: I left and came back at least once every 90 days or so. It was never a problem.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:44 PM on October 22, 2014

Minor point: the 89-day rule that a few people have mentioned would not apply in this case. Since the introduction of the Schengen area, you get up to 90 days in any six month period in the whole of the Schengen area. You can't just cross a border and come back for another 90 days immediately, as you once could (e.g. when yellowcandy was working in Denmark).
posted by Pink Frost at 1:07 AM on October 23, 2014

A lot of people have multiple citizenships - even "Americans" and "Australians" (esp. from places that allow extended citizenship by descent, like Italy and Ireland) -- nearly everyone I know has or can claim another citizenship. Many Australians are likely on a Working Holiday visa (you don't specify which countries, but nearly all EU countries provide for this). Some are overstaying their tourist visas (and are risking being banned from Schengen for 2+ years -- yes, it happens, I've seen it). Some probably were/are on student visas, that tend to be much longer than the 90 day tourist visa, despite the semester lasting only 3-4 months. Some probably applied for a tourist visa extension.

There are many ways to accomplish this, some of which are illegal. I recommend not doing the illegal ones.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:27 AM on October 23, 2014

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