Australia amends Working Holiday Maker Program

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 Maker visa program include:

– From 5th 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.

– From 5th November 2018, increasing the period in which subclass 417 and 462 visa holders can stay with the same agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) employer, from six to 12 months.

– The option of a third-year for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who, after 1st July 2019, undertake six-months of specified work in a specified regional area during their second year.

– Over the coming weeks, offering an increase in the annual caps to a number of countries that participate in the subclass 462 visa program.

– Increasing the eligible age for subclass 417 visa applicants from Canada and Ireland to 35.

The changes aim to increase 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 six-months.

The availability of a third-year visa will, it is hoped, attract working holiday makers to work for longer in regional Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the WHM visa changes represented a pragmatic solution to address the problem of filling work-force shortages in the Australian farm sector.

“Our considered and measured approach ensures we continue to back farm businesses and communities to continue producing and supplying the world’s best food and fibre,” he said.

“We remain focused on addressing this issue by providing more workforce options and flexibility to help our farmers pick their fruit and harvest their crops.”

Article published 5th November 2018