The Australian Government has announced changes to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa program to support regional and rural communities.
Changes to the WHM visa program include:
– 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.
– Increasing the period in which subclass 417 and 462 visa holders can stay with the same agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) employer, from 6 to 12 months.
– The option of a third-year for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who, after 1 July 2019, undertake 6-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.
– Increase the eligible age for subclass 417 visa applicants from Canada and Ireland to 35.
How will these changes address regional workforce shortages
The key focus is on providing farmers with immediate access to workers in key parts of regional Australia. 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 6-months.
The availability of a third-year visa will attract working holiday makers to work for longer in regional Australia.