Australia and the UK have agreed on a historic trade deal, which could boost the Australian economy by up to $1.3 billion each year. It is the most ambitious agreement that Australia had struck since its deal with New Zealand. This agreement will increase trade in goods and services, two-way investment, economic growth and job creation. Among the measures, the age for UK Working Holiday Visa makers is to be increased to 35, specified work will no longer be required. Here are the information you need to know about this agreement.
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Commencement of the agreement
The Australia-UK FTA entered into force on 31st of May 2023.
The agreement implies that more than 99 per cent of Australian products will enter the UK duty-free. On the other hand British products including cars, whisky, confectionery, cosmetics etc. coming into Australia are expected to be cheaper.
But the FTA is also bringing massive changes for Working Holiday Visa Makers (subclass 417)! Under the new arrangements, UK passport holders will be able to be granted up to three Working Holiday visas without having to meet any specified work requirements from 1 July 2024.
Moreover since 1st July 2023, they can now apply for a Working Holiday visa between the ages of 18 and 35 years inclusive.
The new arrangements applies to all Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa applications for UK passport holders lodged from the date of implementation.
From 31 January 2024, Australians up to the age of 35, up from 30, will be able to apply for working holidays in the UK and stay for a maximum of three years instead of two.
Working Holiday Visa changes for UK passport holders
Age limit increased in July 2023
The working holiday visa in Australia allows UK citizens to travel and work in the country. Following the entry into force of the agreement, the age limit for UK working holiday visa makers is increase to 35 years old (inclusive). UK passport holders are therefore able to lodge an application for a visa up until the day before their 36th birthday. Since 1st July 2023, UK passports holders are able to apply for a Working Holiday Visa between the ages of 18 and 35 years inclusive.
Australians will also be able to apply for the visas up to the age of 35, instead of 30, and stay for three years instead of two in the UK. This will start from 31 January 2024.
Specific work requirement removed from July 2024
Currently, Working Holiday visa holders can stay three years in Australia under three separate visas granted for 12 months each. These arrangements will not change. When the new arrangements commence, a visa may be be granted for up to 3 years without the need to undertake farm work from 1 July 2024.
You can choose to apply for a first, second and third visa at any time as long as you comply with the eligible age requirement. You do not need to stay in Australia for three years in a row.
IMPORTANT: If you have already spent one or two years in Australia on a Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa before the new arrangements commence, you will be able to apply for the remaining visas under the new arrangements. This will enable you to access the maximum of three years in Australia.
Consequences of the agreement on visa holders
In order to understand the consequences of the agreement on current and future WHV makers, here are a couple of scenarios extracted from the immigration website.
If you cannot apply because of the age limit
Example of Amanda who came to Australia on her first Working Holiday visa in 2015 and returned to the UK in 2016. Amanda is now 32 years old. She cannot apply for another Working Holiday visa as the age limit for applicants is 30 years.
With the new arrangements, Amanda will be able to apply for second and third visa. She can apply from in or outside Australia, up to the age of 35 years. She will not need to meet any specified work requirements.
If you had to leave Australia because of the pandemic
Example of Bridget who was in Australia on 20 March 2020 when COVID-19 travel restrictions started. She was on her first Working Holiday visa (a ‘COVID-19 affected visa’). She returned to the UK without completing any specified work. Her visa ceased before 31 December 2021.
Alternatively, with the new arrangements, she will be able to apply for a second and third visa (in addition to the offshore nil VAC visa). She will not need to meet any specified work requirements.
If you came to Australia in the past without completing specific work requirements
Example of Doug who held a first Working Holiday visa in Australia in 2017. He returned to the UK before the COVID-19 pandemic. If he wishes to apply for another Working Holiday visa before the new arrangements start, he will have to meet the specified work requirements.
With the new arrangements, he will be eligible to apply for second and third Working Holiday visas, up to the age of 35 years. He will not need to meet any specified work requirements. He can apply from in or outside Australia.
Other changes included in the Free Trade agreement
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and the United Kingdom, marks a significant milestone in the economic relationship between the two nations. This landmark agreement aims to enhance trade and economic cooperation by eliminating tariffs and reducing trade barriers. It covers a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and services, opening up new opportunities for businesses on both sides. By fostering stronger trade ties, this FTA is expected to boost economic growth, create jobs, and promote innovation while strengthening the historical and cultural bonds that have long connected Australia and the UK. It represents a promising chapter in the ongoing collaboration between these two Commonwealth nations and paves the way for even closer ties in the future.
Therefore 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. British products including cars, whisky, confectionery, cosmetics etc. coming into Australia are expected to be cheaper. Britain will also gain greater access to Australian markets for services.
More than 99 per cent of Australian products will enter the UK duty-free. These include some of Australia key exports, such as wine, short and medium grain rice, sugar, honey, nuts, olive oil and food supplements. 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.