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Important changes to the Working Holiday Visa in Australia

Important changes to the Working Holiday Visa in Australia

You are on a Working Holiday Visa or are interested in applying for one? Here you will find all relevant changes and news for Working Holiday traveller.
6th of April 2020, COVID-19: To support jobs in health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing, and childcare, the Government is providing flexible arrangements. Travellers working in these sectors will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer and will also be eligible to renew their visa.
May 2019, the Australian government announced significant changes regarding the Working Holiday visa program. One of the changes is the opportunity to work for more than 6 months for the same agricultural employer. This also includes the opportunity to get a third year working holiday visa, under certain conditions.

Third-year visa for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders

Before 1st of July 2019, it was only possible to extend your Working Holiday for a second year if you completed 88 days (3 months) of work in certain regions and specific job sectors. Since July, Working Holiday Makers on their second-year visa can extend their visa for another year. To be eligible, they have to work in a specified job for 6 months in a specified regional area.

To sum it up, you will need to do 88 days of farm work in your first year to qualify for a second Working Holiday visa. Then you work 6 months during your second year to apply for a third year. The type of work you will have to do to be eligible for the third year visa are the same as the specified work for the second year visa.

Important note

The 6 months work must all be carried out on or after 1 July 2019. So a successful application for a third year cannot be lodged before January 2020.

COVID-19: WHV changes

6th of April 2020, to support the critical sectors of health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing, and childcare, the Government is providing flexible arrangements with regard to ongoing employment of Working Holiday Makers (WHMs).

Traveller working in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer and will also be eligible to renew their visas to continue working in these sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months. WHMs still need to meet the other conditions to apply such as age limit.

If a traveller is working in the critical sectors of health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing or childcare but is not eligible for a further WHM visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply for Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa.

Work more than 6 months for the same agricultural employer

Since 5 November 2018, it is possible to work more than 6 months for the same employer in the agricultural sector.

These jobs include:

  • The harvesting and/or packing of fruit and vegetable crops
  • pruning and trimming vines and trees
  • general maintenance crop work
  • cultivating or propagating plants, fungi or their products or parts
  • immediate processing of plant products
  • maintaining animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce
  • immediate processing of animal products including shearing, butchery, packing and tanning
  • manufacturing dairy produce from raw materials.” (Homeaffairs)

This new regulation applies to every state and territory of Australia and to every Working Holiday maker in the first or second year. Workers will, therefore, be able to stay with the same employer for up to 12 months.

The goal here is to increase the workforce available to work in seasonal agricultural jobs. It is not necessary to obtain permission by the government, the regulation has come into effect immediately.

Specified work in disaster-affected areas

March 2020, the government has announced temporary changes to working holiday visas. This is to encourage backpackers to help rebuild communities ravaged by the fire while being able to renew their working holiday visas.

As part of these changes, WHV workers in disaster-affected areas can stay with the same employer for one year instead of six months currently. The list of eligible construction tasks was also extended.

Volunteer work in disaster-affected areas will also count for the days required to renew your WHV. It will count for a second and third year.

For more information, read this article: WHV specified work in disaster affected areas.

Increasing the age limit to 35

While Australia had announced to increase the age limit for Working Holiday Makers, only Canada, Ireland and France have accepted this proposal.
As a result, Canadians and Irish can now apply for a first or second-year Working Holiday visa until they turn 35 years old. Previously, the age limit for obtaining a Working Holiday visa was 31 years old for Canadians an Irish.
Since the 1st of July 2019, French citizens can also apply until they turn 35 years old.
For all other countries, the age limit remains 31 for now. They might come to an agreement though, we will definitely keep you posted. Those changes to the working holiday visa are very positive.

Additional parts of regional Australia

Since 5 November 2018, the Australian government have added regional areas in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, and all of Northern Territory, South Australia, and Tasmania to the list of eligible work locations.

Source: Homeaffairs

Updated on the 6th of April 2020. First published on the 6th of November 2018

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  1. hello,
    i’ve done 6 months of regional work during my 2nd year visa which ended in july 2015. I am french and under 35. So do you think i am eligible for a 3rd year visa?thank you!

  2. Hello, i’m currently on my 1st year visa now, 462.
    can I apply my 2nd and 3rd year visa at the same time if i’ve already done my 3month and 6month on my 1st year? Thank you 🙂

  3. Hi there! I’m wondering if horse agistments which prepare & sell yearlings for Australian sales as well as rear foals count for the visa? Even if there are no stallions on the property?

  4. Can I work two part time jobs (ie 2 days for one employer and 3 days for another) in an eligible industry?
    If so would I count the weeks or would I have to count individual days.

  5. I want to know if i can get a 2nd working holiday visa? I had one about 5 years ago, i stayed in australia for the year then left when it ran out because i decided not to do rural work and stay any longer.

    But someone told me now ive been out of australia over 3 years i could simple apply for 417 year 1 again. Is there any truth in this?

    I also have luxury or being from Ireland . First time i came out on a british NI passport. If i applied again with Irish passport (i have both) would this technically be seen as a seperate application from previous and allow entry as using different passport, allowing me to start first year of 417 again?

    Thanks Rodney Hill

    • Hi Rodney,
      Technically if you havent done your 88 days for renewal, you shouldn’t be able to apply for a second WHV. It is not true that you can apply for a new visa after 3 years out of Australia.
      Regarding your application, one of the first question is ‘Has the applicant been granted and entered Australia on a first WHV before’…

  6. Hi,
    I seen on the government site that you can work part time or casual work in a regional area amd it doesn’t matter how many days or hours you work within the 6 months. Is this true?
    Thank you


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