In June 2021, Morrison and Johnson held a joint press conference to announce the in-principle agreement, which could boost the Australian economy by up to $1.3 billion each year. Indeed, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed on historic trade deal during G7. Morrison said it was the most ambitious agreement that Australia had struck since its deal with New Zealand. Australia is seeking here an ambitious free trade agreement with the UK to increase trade in goods and services, two-way investment, economic growth and job creation. Among the measures announced, the age for UK Working Holiday Visa makers will be increased to 35, specified work may no longer be required and new agriculture visa will be introduced. Here are the information you need to know about the ‘in-principle agreement’.
The agreement is due to enter into force by July 2022.
Working Holiday Visa changes for UK passport holders
Age limit increased
Actual travel restrictions aside, British travellers aged up to 30 are eligible for a working holiday visa in Australia. This visa allows them to travel and work in the country for up to 12 months. Eligible Working holiday makers can also extend this visa by applying for a second, and then a third working holiday visa. To be eligible for a second or third year, they must complete three months (88 days) and six months (179 days) respectively of specified rural work in mainly farming, fishing, construction.
Following the signature of the agreement, the age limit for UK working holiday visa would increase to 35 years old. This will now allow people to arrive in Australia before turning 36. This should be in place by 1st July 2022.
Specific work requirement removed
The agreement also looks to strike off the mandatory manual labour in specific industries for those looking to extend their visa for another year. Indeed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the rule forcing UK backpackers to work on Australian farms in renew their visas had been removed. Therefore a visa may be be granted for up to 3 years without the need to undertake farm work.
Australian farmers are said to be against this clause as it will deprive them of much-needed labour. However, the UK trade secretary reportedly argued in favour of dropping the clause as there is no equivalent requirement for Australians in Britain.
Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud said the agreement with the UK to scrap the requirement for working holiday-makers to work on farms would not be extended to other nations.
Introduction of a new visa
As part of the Free Trade Agreement announcement, Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson said a new two-way visa would be established between the UK and Australia for farm workers. It will allow people to work on farms in either country.
Alongside the UK free trade agreement, a new agriculture-specific visa will also be established to allow people to work on farms in Australia. This new farm work visa will be offered to residents from 10 South-East Asian countries to help Australian farmers harvest their crops. Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud announced this visa would be available to Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Brunei and Cambodia.
The visa will no doubt be welcomed by the agriculture sector, which has been calling for an agriculture-specific visa long before the pandemic closed Australia’s borders. Before Australia closed its borders, about 70 per cent of the agriculture workforce was foreign.
Mr Littleproud said the new visa must recruit more than 10,000 workers a year to make up for the 10,000 British backpackers that farmers will ultimately lose with the 88 days requirement removed. It is understood this visa will be for three years, and workers will have six to nine months worth of work. Workers would have to go back to their home country for three months of the year, each year over the three years.
It seems there will be no age restrictions on the visa. However, it is unclear when it will come into place.
Other changes included in the agreement
As part of the deal, the Australian government will scrap tariffs on a range of British goods. This includes whisky, pharmaceuticals, cars, machinery and tractors. Britain will also gain greater access to Australian markets for services.
Britain has agreed to liberalise Australian imports of beef, sheep meat and sugar, increasing their tariff-free threshold and tapering tariffs over time. The agreement will also mean a raft of professional qualifications gained in one country will be recognised in the other.
Details of the in-principle agreement will be released before it is passed by parliaments in both countries. It will likely take effect from mid-next year (2022).