The Government has announced changes to the Working Holiday Maker visa and Seasonal Worker programs in a bid to help farmers fill skill shortages in their industry. These working holiday visa changes are a positive development as they will open these programs up to more potential applicants, improve their attractiveness as an option for workers to Australia, and at the same time, assist Australia’s farmers to maximise their economic returns.

These changes will affect the Working Holiday subclass 417 and Work and Holiday subclass 462 visa classes. Changes announced include increasing caps on the number of visas issued and allowing visa holders to extend their time in Australia by completing agricultural work in new geographical areas around the country.

This new initiative will also make it easier for farmers to employ workers for a greater period and at a lower cost under the Seasonal Worker Program.

The following changes have been announced to the Working Holiday Maker visa programs:

  • Subclass 462 visa holders will be able to undertake regional plant and animal cultivation work in additional areas to qualify for a 2nd Work and Holiday visa;
  • Extending from 6 to 12 months the maximum period that a Working Holiday Maker is permitted to work for the same agricultural employer (this will apply to both subclass 417 and 462 visas)
  • For subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who, from 1 July 2019 perform 6 months of work in a regional area during their 2nd year, they will have the option of applying for a 3rd year Working Holiday Maker visa
  • More places will be available to new applicants by increasing annual caps for the subclass 462 visa program

The following changes have been announced to the Seasonal Worker Program:

  • All workers under the program will be permitted to work in Australia for 9 months (the current maximum period for certain countries is 6 months)
  • Extended validity period for labour market testing which is completed by employers under the program from 3 to 6 months
  • Lower administration costs incurred by employers, with seasonal workers to repay their travel costs over $300 (previously this has been set at $500)

The Australian Chamber of Tourism has also recently announced changes to the Working Holiday Maker visa program for visa applicants from Canada, with the maximum age limit being increased from 30 to 35 years of age.

For up to date advice on your eligibility for a skilled visa, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.