Government announces changes to the Working Holiday Maker visa program – significant benefits to support regional and rural communities.
The Australian Government has announced changes to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa program to support regional and rural communities.
Changes to the Working Holiday Visa Program include:
- From 5 November 2018, expanding the regional areas where subclass 462-visa holders can work in agriculture (plant and animal cultivation) to qualify for a second year of stay in Australia. Currently only those who work in Northern Australia are eligible.
- Increasing the period in which subclass 417 and 462 visa holders can stay with the same agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) employer, from 6 to 12 months.
- The option of a third-year for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who, after 1 July 2019, undertake 6-months of specified work in a specified regional area during their second year.
- Offering an increase in the annual caps to a number of countries that participate in the subclass 462 visa program.
- Increase the eligible age for subclass 417 visa applicants from Canada and Ireland to 35.
The government advised that the key focus is on providing farmers with immediate access to workers in key parts of regional Australia. The changes are aimed at increasing the number of Working Holiday Makers available for seasonal work needs.
Employers will be able to retain trained and experienced employees doing agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) work for up to 12-months, rather than the previous 6-months.
The government proposes that the availability of a third-year visa will attract working holiday makers to work for longer in regional Australia.
An important feature of the changed arrangement is the focus on plant and animal cultivation work. This includes most agricultural work, such as:
- the harvesting and/or packing of fruit and vegetable crops.
- pruning and trimming vines and trees.
- general maintenance crop work.
- cultivating or propagating plants, fungi or their products or parts.
- immediate processing of plant products.
- maintaining animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce.
- immediate processing of animal products including shearing, butchery, packing and tanning.
- manufacturing dairy produce from raw material.
- What additional parts of regional Australia will be included in the expanded arrangements.
From 5 November 2018, this will be extended to regional areas in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, and all of Northern Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania. Details of specific postcodes will be published on the Department’s website shortly.
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