Changes to the Working Holiday Maker visa program have made it even more flexible – with an opportunity to stay in Australia for up to three years.
Is your customer dreaming of a gap year in Australia? Then they’ll want to know about Australia’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa program. The WHM program gives young visitors aged 18 to 30 (now 35 for Canadian and Irish citizens) the chance to do just that. They can stay in Australia for an extended period, earn money to fund their travels through short-term employment and immerse in the local culture while enjoying Australia’s famously laidback lifestyle. There is already a lot to love about Australia’s WHM visa program, but new changes in 2018 have made it even better.
Changes to Australia’s Working Holiday Maker visa program
If you've handled a working holiday for a customer in the past, you may know they can stay for up to two years. This is true: a WHM visa only lasts 12 months, but if they meet certain criteria (including doing three months of eligible work, such as farm work, in parts of rural or northern Australia), they have the option to apply for another 12-month visa, which means they can stay in Australia for a total of two years. The new changes, however, have just made an Australian working holiday even better: from 1 July 2019, it's possible to extend their stay for a third year. If from Canada or Ireland, they’re also now eligible for a working holiday visa from the age of 18, up until the age of 35 (previously only until age of 30).
How can they stay for up to three years?
There are a few conditions, but the most important is the need to complete six months of specified work during their second year to qualify. Previously, WHM visa holders were required to work in specific areas of Australia to qualify, but to make this easier to achieve, WHM visa holders are now able to work in a wider geographical area across Australia. They can also now stay with the same agricultural employer for up to 12 months (previously six months). This gives them the chance to experience Australia’s beautiful countryside – or experience an outback adventure – while getting to know the people in Australia’s incredible countryside at the same time.
Which countries are eligible to apply for this visa?
WHM visas come in two categories:
Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462)
For visitors holding passports from Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, the USA and Vietnam.
Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417)
For visitors holding passports from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK.
Do they have to pick fruit?
No – though they can if they want to! In their first year on a WHM visa, your customer can undertake any kind of work they like, and can usually stay with the same employer for up to six months. To qualify for a second (or third) year however, they must do specific kinds of work. Farm work, including fruit picking, offers lots of opportunities and is popular among backpackers. However, it’s not the only option. Depending which visa they're on, ‘specified work’ to qualify for a second (or third) year can also include roles in the fields of travel and tourism, mining, fishing and construction.
Are there any other benefits I should know about?
Yes. A brief summary of these is below:
- Previously, as a holder of the 462 visa and wanting to stay for a second year, they would have been required to work in northern Australia to be eligible. From 5 November 2018, they can work in many more areas of Australia, including regional areas in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, and all of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.
- Previously, holders of 417 and 462 visas could only stay with the same agricultural employer for six months. From 5 November 2018, they can now stay with them for 12 months, if they’d like to.
- A number of countries that participate in the subclass 462 visa program have also seen an increase in the annual number of visas available.
- Visa holders can also study for up to four months while here, and come and go from Australia as many times as they like.
What other criteria do they have to meet to get a visa?
They can only apply for their initial WHM visa from outside Australia. As well as being the right age and holding a passport from one of the countries listed above, they must also meet certain other criteria to qualify for a WHM visa. These vary depending on the visa type and country the passport is held, but include health and educational requirements and a willingness to sign an Australian values statement. They’re not allowed to travel with dependent children and must have enough money to support themselves for their entire stay (as well as evidence to get themselves home again).
How much does a visa cost?
AUD$450 per visa.