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Changes to Working Holiday Visas and the Seasonal Work Program

In time for the end of year holiday season, the Australian Government has announced changes for Working Holiday Visas (Subclasses 417 & 462) and to the Seasonal Worker Program. The changes will give Working Holiday Visa holders options to stay in Australia longer, work in different areas of Australia and (for some countries) increase the age requirement for visa holders. Seasonal Work Program changes will allow longer stays and make it easier for employers to bring over seasonal workers.

The Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) and Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) changes summarised as follows –

  • Working Holiday Makers from Ireland and Canada will now be eligible to apply up to the age of 35 (increased from the previous 30-year age limit).
  • The annual cap on the number of 462 visas that may be granted will be increased for some countries.
  • Previously, 462 visa holders were only able to work in Northern Australia to qualify for a further year of stay in Australia. From 5 November 2018, 462 holders will be able to work in agriculture (plant and animal cultivation) in a number of new regional areas to qualify for the second-year stay.
  • The new regional areas for 462 visa holders will include regions in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia and extend coverage to all of the Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia.
  • For 462 visa holders to be eligible for the second year, they must work for a total of 88 calendar days (three months) in specified regional work. This work may include a combination of existing specified regional work and the newly introduced specified regional work.
  • Previously Working Holiday Makers (both 462 and 417 holders) could only stay in Australia for a maximum of two years. From mid-2019, 462 and 417 visa holders will be eligible to stay a further year if they complete six months of specified regional work during their second year in Australia.
  • Previously Working Holiday Makers (both 462 and 417 holders) could only stay with the same agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) employer for 6 months. From 5 November 2018, this has been extended to 12 months.
  • The existing Working Holiday Maker arrangements in Northern Australia will not change. That is, 417 and 462 visa holders can continue to work with the same employer in Northern Australia for the extended 12-month period in specified work. 462 visa holders are still able to qualify for their second year stay by working in specified work in Northern Australia.

The changes to the Seasonal Worker Program are as follows –

  • The program covers resident citizens from Vanuatu, Timor-Leste, Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu. Currently, workers from some countries are only allowed to work for six months, this will be increased to nine months.
  • Evidence showing an inability to recruit Australians for the seasonal work may be valid for six months.
  • Workers will have to repay their full travel costs, minus the first $300.00. This has been reduced from the previous $500.00 payment previously covered by employers.

You can find more information about the Seasonal Worker Program here.

With all of these new options to extend your stay or allow for greater access to the Working Holiday Maker visas, now is the time to start planning your trip to Australia or make plans to ensure you can stay as long as possible. Please contact us if you require our assistance. You can book a consultation, and/or use our service to have your visa application completed by a Registered Migration Agent. We are happy to help and work with both, employers and individual clients. We look forward to hearing from you!!

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