New visa rules for working holiday makers in Australia for 2018

Nov 12, 2020

Stay longer, do more

The good news is that the changes mean most backpackers will be able to stay longer. Yay! You’ll have even more time for sunshine and beer.

There will also be more choice in where you can work. Under the current Working Holiday Maker (WHM) scheme, visitors can stay for 12 months. This can be extended to two years if you do specified work.

Now, you’ll be able to stay as long as three years – provided you spend a total of nine months doing agricultural work in a regional area.

What exactly is regional, anyway?

Under the old program, to qualify for the longer visa you had to find an agricultural job in the Northern Territory. But now the scheme has been opened up to include regional areas of all states.

The scope of the new areas is pretty generous. Capital cities are excluded, although you can work in Hobart and Adelaide. A great deal of Australia is now more open to backpackers wanting to work on their vacation.

And what about the work?

The kind of work that qualifies is pretty simple. If it involves fishing or farming in any way, then you’re probably good. Depending on your visa class (417 or 462 – see box), you can also work in construction, mining, tourism or aged care.

You’ll need to do three months of regional work in your first year to be eligible for the second year visa. In your second year, you can work anywhere you like. But if you do another six months of regional work, you get a bonus third-year visa.

It’s important that you work out your total working months carefully – if some of your work is part-time, that can affect your total number of days.

Start later, work longer

If you thought you’d already missed the boat on getting your Australian working holiday visa, that might be about to change. People from Canada and Ireland can now apply up until the age of 35, with other countries soon to follow.

The government is also loosening up restrictions that meant you could only stay with one employer for six months. If you find a job you like, you can stay there for a full year before you need to change.

What if you’re already here?

It’s not exactly clear if these changes apply if you’re already enjoying your working holiday in Australia. According to the Home Affairs website, it does appear that these changes apply immediately. So you may be able to ditch the Northern Territory and start working in sunny Queensland right away.

Why now?

The government says that the goal is to make sure Australia’s farmers have enough workers when they need them. Letting people stay longer means that employers can hold on to trained workers. Representatives from farming groups and agricultural businesses have welcomed the changes – Australia really does rely on working holidaymakers to keep our farms going.

We can’t wait to welcome you.

Working holiday basics

  • The working holiday scheme lets people under the age of 31 (or 35) come to Australia for 12 months with the option to work to support their travels. It can be extended for a total of three years if you do certain work in certain areas.
  • There are two sub-classes depending on your nationality.
    • Visa 417 – Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan or the United Kingdom.
    • Visa 462 – Argentina, Austria, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Peru Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, Uruguay or Vietnam.
  • Basically, the 417 is much easier to get. You just need to prove you have enough cash and not be travelling with dependent children.

  • People applying for the 462 need to prove they can speak English, have a degree (depending on the country), and also a letter of support from your government.

  • The visa lasts for one year. This can be extended to two years if you do three months of agricultural work in a regional area.

  • Now, you can extend it to three years, if you do an additional six months of agricultural work in your second year.

New visa rules for working holiday makers in Australia for 2018

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