Visa flexibility for Working holiday makers supporting critical sectors

Visa flexibility for Working holiday makers supporting critical sectors

The Government is making a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the coronavirus crisis in order to protect the health and livelihoods of Australians, support critical industries, and assist with the rapid recovery post the virus.

There are about 118,000 people in Australia on a Working Holiday visa (or backpacker visa) – a visa which provides conditional work rights.

To support the critical sectors of heath, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare, some limited flexibility will be provided.

In particular, working holiday makers who are working in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.

In general, working holiday makers that do not have the confidence to sustain themselves over the next six months should make arrangements to leave the country.

Working holiday makers employed in critical sectors who have not completed the 3 or 6 months of specified work required to apply for a second or third Working Holiday Maker visa, and are unable to leave Australia, may be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa. This visa will allow working holiday makers to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, if they wish to do so, until they can return to their home country.

Those already in Australia with the Seasonal Worker Program whose visas are expiring, will be able to extend their stay in Australia by applying for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa.

Holders of other temporary work visas / TSS 482 visa /457 visa currently employed in critical sectors may also be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa.

Changes allow those within the Pacific Labour Scheme, Seasonal Worker Program and working holiday makers to continue to work in agriculture and food processing until the coronavirus crisis has passed.

On 04 April 2020, in a Joint media release the government announced it is making temporary changes to visa arrangements to help farmers access the workforce they need to secure Australia’s good and produce supply during COVID-19. The key facts are:

Key Facts

  • Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers (ensuring pastoral care and accommodation needs of workers are met to minimise health risks to visa holders and the community).
  • Approved employers under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme will need to continue engaging with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on labour market testing to ensure recruitment of Australians first.
  • Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
  • Conditions will be placed upon visa holders to self-isolate for 14 days before taking up employment in a different region (including termination of visas where there is non-compliance).
  • To support implementation of self-isolation arrangements for visa holders and avoid spread of COVID-19 the government is working with states and territories on enforcement and sanction mechanisms.
  • Employers will need to commit to providing safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements.
  • Arrangement will also need to be in place for a declaration between employers and employees that all protocols necessary to ensure human health and accommodation requirements have been met.

Holders of a Working Holiday visas are currently not eligible for financial support by the Australian Government.

For COVID-19 visa related travel questions / 408 visa eligibility you can book a time here:

https://seekvisa.as.me/covid19 (25 min)

If you would like a comprehensive consultation which includes assessing you for other temporary and permanent visa options (Skilled visas, Employer Sponsored, Partner, etc.) as well, we recommend our standard 45 minute to 1 hour consultation which can be scheduled here:

https://seekvisa.as.me/skype (45 min)

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