Huge changes coming for Australian working holiday visas

Huge changes to Australia’s working holiday visas will offer backpackers a very exciting new opportunity Down Under – here’s everything you need to know about the new rules

  • Sweeping changes will be made to Australia’s working holiday visa program
  • Backpackers will not have to under three months of gruelling farm work to stay 
  • Instead they will be able to work hospitality or tourism sectors in remote areas 
  • The change was made to prop up the sectors hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis 

Sweeping changes are coming for working holiday makers in Australia with backpackers soon able to swap farm work for bar work in remote areas.

Visitors to Australia staying under the Working Holiday Maker visa program were previously compelled to complete 88 days of gruelling farm work or other ‘specified’ labour such as bushfire recovery or mining, in order to qualify for a second and third year Down Under.

But in a major change for those already in Australia, WHV holders can soon opt for jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry in ‘northern, remote and very remote areas of Australia’.

The decision announced by the federal government on Tuesday aims to breathe life back into Australia’s world-renowned tourism and hospitality sectors which have been decimated the Covid-19 crisis, with the border closed since March 2020.

This new alternative to farm work will be available to WHMs who lodge their applications from March 2022.

But Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke said the government will take into account work undertaken in the tourism and hospitality sectors in remote areas from Wednesday.

Huge changes are coming for working holiday makers in Australia with backpackers now able to swap farm work for bar work in remote areas. Pictured: Backpackers in Brisbane

Visitors to Australia staying under the Working Holiday Maker visa program were previously compelled to complete 88 days of gruelling farm work (pictured) or other ‘specified’ labour like bushfire recovery or mining, in order to qualify for a second and third year Down Under

NEW CHANGES TO WORKING HOLIDAY VISAS DOWN UNDER 

– In the past backpackers from Australia’s 40 partner nation’s could stay Down Under for three years, as long as they underwent three gruelling months of farm work.

– Now with Australia’s hospitality and tourism sectors decimated by the Covid crisis, WHV holders will now be able to swap farm work in a remote area for bar work. 

– Although the changes will take effect on March 22, the government will take into account work undertaken in the tourism and hospitality sectors from today. 

– WHMs can also now work in a tourism and hospitality venue for longer than six months without requesting permission, as was the rule in previous years. 

– From July 1 this year anyone who had their WHM visa impacted by the Covid crisis – such as those who left early or never arrived in Australia – are eligible to reapply free of charge. 

‘We recognise the important contribution Working Holiday Makers have made to critical sectors of the Australian economy throughout the pandemic,’ he said.

‘Covid-19 travel restrictions and economic shocks disrupted the plans of many visa holders. These additional measures provide the opportunity for a reset — helping Working Holiday Makers to stay and work in Australia,’ he said.

‘We will continue to monitor and adjust temporary visa conditions to ensure we have the right settings in place as Australia emerges from the pandemic,’ Minister Hawke said.

Another change will also take effect next week for WHMs offshore who were unable to come to Australia or had to leave early because of COVID-19, allowing them to reapply without charge from July 1.

WHM holders can opt for jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry in ‘northern, remote and very remote areas of Australia’. Pictured: A waiter serves a table in Australia

The decision announced by the federal government on Tuesday aims to breathe life back into Australia’s world-renowned tourism and hospitality sectors which have been decimated the Covid-19 crisis. Pictured: A construction worker in Australia

The government announced that former WHM visa holders who have transitioned to another visa, such as the Covid-19 Pandemic Event visa, may also be eligible to reapply for a WHM visa without charge.

With the tourism and hospitality industries added to the list of Covid-19 critical sectors on May 8, it means WHM can also spend more time with one employer.

WHMs can now work in a tourism and hospitality venue for longer than six months without requesting permission, as was the rule in previous years.

Mr Hawke said the change ‘gives more flexibility to tourism and hospitality employers to meet their workforce needs’.

Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson celebrated the deal by exchanging hampers of British and Australian goods in Mr Johnson’s garden where they gave a press conference hailing a ‘new dawn’ for UK-Australia relations

The sweeping changes come after Australia waved the specified work requirements all together for future British backpackers after securing a free trade deal with the UK on the side lines of the G7 summit.   

In exchange, the UK will remove a number of tariffs for Aussie businesses bringing in goods.

‘I said we’d wait for the right deal and I think we’ve got the right deal, Boris,’ said Mr Morrison as he welcomed the agreement which will boost the Australian economy by $1.3billion a year.  

The bombshell change to visas will delight young Britons who are forced to carry out three months of gruelling work on a rural property if they want to stay in Australia for a second year on a working holiday visa. Young Australians will have the same rights to work in the UK for three years. 

There were some concerns that the change would leave embattled Australian farmers without enough workers, but a separate Agricultural Visa is being established to try and fill the gap. 

Mr Morrison wore a crisp suit and blue tie and the Queen opted for a summery yellow dress in a meeting held just hours after the UK-Australia trade deal was announced

The changes will not come into play until at least July 2022 when the free trade deal – which has been agreed in principle – is expected to be officially signed.  

‘There is a great opportunity for young people from both the UK and Australia to move and operate in different countries.

‘That builds capacity, in both countries, with that easy engagement,’ he said in London. 

In a huge win for Aussie farmers, the trade deal will liberalise Australian imports of beef, lamb, cheese and sugar into the UK, which became free to set its own trade policy after the Brexit process ended in January.

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