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UK – Australia free Trade Deal & changes to Working Holiday Visa

UK – Australia free Trade Deal & changes to Working Holiday Visa
Photo by Stephen Tafra on Unsplash

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 this agreement.

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 will increase to 35 years old. UK passport holders will therefore be able to lodge an application for a visa up until the day before their 36th birthday.

Specific work requirement removed

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the rule forcing UK backpackers to work on Australian farms in renew their visas had been removed.

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.

You can choose to apply for a first, second and third visa at any time as long as you 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.

Photo credit: The Conversation

Commencement of the agreement

The Australia-UK FTA has not yet entered into force.

The new arrangements will start for WHMs within two years. The new arrangements will apply to all Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa applications for UK passport holders lodged from the date of implementation.

For more information, see Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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

Amanda 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.

When the new arrangements commence, 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

Bridget 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, when the new arrangements commence, 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

Doug 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.

When the new arrangements commence, 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

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.

Sources:
www.dfat.gov.au
www.smh.com.au
www.news.com.au

www.abc.net.au
www.abc.net.au


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85 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,

    With this due to come into force in July 2022, will any application I do now fall under the old rules or the new one? My ideal moving date would be the end of 2022.

    Also, is there any talks of the 6 month working for the same employer limit being scrapped?

    Thanks,

    Gary

      • Hi there,

        My current plan from reading more of this is to apply for I turn 36 this year which is November but I won’t travel out until next year which I believe is under 12 months option agreement?, given I can actually apply right up until the day before I turn 36.

        I have some other places I want to tick off first before I return

        • Hi Gary,
          For now the FTA is not into force so the age limit still at 30 inclusive. However when the agreement will start for WHMs, UK passport holders will then be able to lodge an application for any Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa up until the day before their 36th birthday. Cheers

  2. Hi, thanks for writing this article!

    Do you know if the Farm work requirement will be removed by July 2022 Also?
    I can’t seem to find any info on a timeline anywhere.

  3. Hello,

    Great article and very positive stuff. How confident are you with the proposed date of July 2022?

    I saw on the government website that it said it “should be in place within 5 years”, I appreciate you don’t have a crystal ball, but obviously there is quite a difference in the two timescales.

    I’m currently 32 and will be 34 by July 2022, so I have time, but I’m also conscious that if the date drags on I will be eating into my chances of applying before I’m too old. Saying that, it says at the top of the article that I can still apply at 35? so assuming as long as I apply before I’m 36 ill be ok?

    Thanks alot.

    Mike

  4. Hi

    Where could I find more info. I am 30yo British, just had my 2nd WHV approved. Due to depart end of 2022. Would i be able to get a 3rd year if the agreement came into place to up to 35yo whilst I am in Australia? Nervous about giving my life up here if I only get one year in Aus due to my age.

    • Hi Victoria,
      We cannot give you a definite answer on this but it seems you ll be able to get a third year after that TBC. You can always call the immigration but as the FTA is not into force as yet, I doubt they ll be able to give you more info. Cheers

  5. Hi,

    I was in Australia in 2017 on a WHV but didn’t complete my farm work. I am hoping to travel back in 2022 as soon as possible.

    Do you think the new rules of no farm work will include those who previously held a visa before the changes came into effect and therefore make me eligible again?

  6. Hello,

    Do you know when the next update is due about the visa situation?

    I’m hoping its not long and they are on track for the July deadline.

    Thanks

    Hazel

  7. Hello,

    Thank you for your info! I’m wondering if you know the process for application for the WHV for the UK in this instance. Say the changes do come into effect July 1st 2022 as predicted, would we be able to apply for the visa beforehand in anticipation, or wait until after July 1st to begin the application? Also, do you have any idea of the usual process time for these visas? There is a course I’d like to do in the uk, however it starts in September and I’m not sure whether that would be enough time to get the visa sorted. Thank you!

  8. Hi,

    I was in Oz in 2020 for 2 years on WHV from Ireland. I have dual citizenship and also have a British passport. Do you know if I would be able to apply on my British passport when the new deal begins and have another 3 years?

  9. Hi, how certain are you that you can transfer over from the current whv to the new one please? I’m 31 at the end of June and I’m unsure about heading out before then and activating my current visa incase the one in July is for first time visa holders only. Thanks

    • Hi Hannah,
      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.

  10. Hi I’m wondering if anyone could help me. I did my first working holiday visa in 2017/18. I didn’t at the time but now I regret not doing my farm work and I would love to go back. Would I be able to apply for a 2nd year visa when these new rules scrapping regional work comes into play in July ?

  11. Hi, I was going to go in late July this year on new visa terms but did not know visa changes were coming later in the deal, if I go in January 2023 and still on ‘Old terms’ visa would it be safe to do the full year without farm work or best to do farm work just in case the new term visa has not come into play?

    • Hi Aaron,
      When the new arrangements commence, you will be eligible to apply for second and third Working Holiday visas, up to the age of 35 years. You will not need to meet any specified work requirements. You can apply from in or outside Australia.

  12. Hi,

    I applied for a WHV due to go to Australia in August. I presume I’ll still have to do my 88 days as I’ve lodged it before the application date but then would I get an additional 3 years on the new visa? (so 4 in total).

    Thanks

  13. Hi I’m 31 in November and am hoping to get to Australia before then. Is it best to wait for the regulations (this could be up to 2 years) or go over on a WHV now before turning 31 and renewing when the new deal comes in? Would I still need to complete farm work? I’ve been waiting to go over since 2020 but with the pandemic not been able to and I feel time is running out! Thanks

    • Hi Belinda,
      As we do not know when the agreement will come into force, it can be safer to apply before turning 31. But it is really a personal decision for you to take. When the new arrangements commence, UK passport holders will not have to do their specified work when applying for a second or third Working Holiday visa. Cheers

  14. Hi,

    This article is very concise and well written. However, I was just wondering about sourcing for claims surrounding Brits being able to return to Australia for their third year, even if they have previous used a 417 visa under the old scheme. I can’t find any official source that confirms this is the case.
    Maybe you could point me in the right direction?

    Thanks

  15. I have had a work holiday visa back in 2009 when I visited Australia for a period of 4 months, I didn’t work only traveled.

    I am now 33 years old and would really like to return to Australia on a second working holiday visa and id like to work while im in country. Is this possible from July this year?

    If so, this is exciting!!!

  16. Hi,

    I have a WHV 417 granted and plan to arrive mid July. If this scheme were to go ahead from July 1st, would I be able to take advantage of it and not do any farm work for my second year visa as I already have my visa granted?

  17. Hi, I applied for my first Working Visa 417 before I turned 31 in 2020. It was granted in December 2021 but the borders didn’t open until February 2022 I believe. I have till this December to activate my Visa but I am not ready. Is there a way I can extend my activation date or will I have to cancel it? If I do cancel it I may re-apply again as the age is being extended to 35. Will I be able to do this? Thanks, Becky

    • Hi Becky,
      Borders reopened for WHV makers in December 21. Once your visa is approved, you have 12 months to enter the territory and activate it. Regarding the age limit, we do not know for sure when it will enter into force, hopefully soon ! Cheers

  18. Hi, I have a tricky one…
    I did 3 years whv from Feb 2019 – 22 (affected by pandemic) and am now 31. If the deal goes through this year, could I go back over on an eVisa and then apply for an Onshore nil VAC visa before 31st December?
    Thanks!

  19. This is really good news to me, as I have just been offered some contract work out in Australia, In my field of work but then my age got in the way of getting a visa. Hopefully this comes in to play in July and I can get out there

  20. Hi,

    This question I’m about to ask might well have already been answered but I’m just looking for extra clarification..

    I turn 31 in August 2022, I’m planning on applying for a working holiday visa around about now and travelling to Australia in summer 2023 but I’m now wondering whether I should wait for the new visa regulations to happen before I do this or whether once I have the first Visa granted I’ll still be able to apply for a 2nd and 3rd with the new Visa changes implemented. Thanks

    • Hi Ollie,
      As we do not know when the FT A will enter into force you should definitely apply before you turn 31 unless there is no rush in your travel plans. You will be able to renew and apply for year 2 & 3 once your first visa is granted. Cheers

  21. Hi, I’m also waiting for them to change the age range to 35 and the 3 year working with no farming. I have read that there’s issues with the government not accepting the free trade deal will this still go ahead. And do you think it will be sorted soon ? Thanks

  22. Hi

    I was in australia from may 2019 to February 2022. My first year was on 417 visa. I had done the 88 days before May 2020. (In March the covid visa was not in place plus the government said to use the 88days first) However part of my farm work was a scam (which I didn’t know until the refusal letter) from May 2020 I was on Bridging visa then when I appeal the decision I was still on a Bridging visa until it was finalised this January 2022) (Sadly didn’t win) so I was 12 days short for the 88days requirement.

    My question is will I be able to apply for the new visa without using the 88days requirement.

    Thanks

  23. Hello I’m going to go in January on the old visa terms from the UK if no deal is in place, problem is if in Australia on old terms can I slot on the ‘New’ terms after the first 1 year within Australia as technically is a new visa with rules?, or do I have to go back to the UK to apply for the new visa terms?

  24. Hey guys, been researching everyday for months. Understand there has been no updates but looks like trade deal is moving forward more and more. Any ideas if this might happen this year??
    Was in Australia in 2018 and I actually did 3 months rural work but was a bad situation and I left with no proof of anything (long story) been dreaming about returning for so long now.

      • hi thanks for the reply! yes hopefully things will go forward this year or start of next!!
        and when you say i can lodge application to renew whv what do you mean?
        i went early 2018 from northern ireland and only spent 3-4 months in oz and 3 months i worked in an outback bar but left suddenly and then left oz, i would love to reapply again or apply for 2nd..is this possible? like i said i have no proof really that i work 3 months..please let me know if you have any help it would be greatly appreciated!
        thanks scott

  25. Hey guys, with the deal supposedly ratified in the UK on Wednesday have we any extra information on when the visas will come into play?

  26. Hi,

    Read the previous comments so I’m assuming no new updates. However, was just wondering about the ‘no more than 6months with the same employer’ status. Do we think that will be removed? If not, by your knowledge, does that make it difficult to stay employed throughout your time in Aus?

    Thanks 🙂

  27. Bit of news, just met Ian Botham (UK trade envoy to Australia) at a golf club.
    He says both sides are desperate for this to be in action by the end of the year “as Australia are desperate for it” and more details will be coming out soon!
    Was a bit star struck but managed to get some details out of him at least!

  28. Hi,

    I was out in Australia from August 2019 – December 2021. I worked my 3 months to be eligible for my 2nd year however I found it difficult due to the pandemic and didn’t manage to get enough work for my 3rd year so I decided to come home.
    Once the new Visa comes into place will I be eligible for the full three years or the remainder of my final 3rd year?

    Thanks!

  29. Still no news about dates? I am on my first WHV which expires in February. Hopefully I know pretty soon because I will have to fit in 3 months of farm between now and Feb otherwise to get my 2nd visa!

  30. looking on the Australian gov website it looks as if the specified work being scrapped could take up to 5 years.
    I am heading to Australia with my partner in September this year (who is originally Australian). I don’t know if anyone could help with suggestions on to get around doing the specified work as I really don’t want to work remotely. I know a friend who went before who just applied for a second and third year visa without doing any farm work at all and it was never checked, but obviously I do not want to risk it.
    Orrr, if anyone has heard any more updates on when the free trade agreement could come into affect.

  31. If I apply for a whv from the uk now and then the new visa comes in will you still have to do it or would it be gone for me too ?

  32. Hi there,

    Do we have any update on when the FTA will come in to effect? Can’t seem to find any on google so assume you won’t know much but worth a shot!
    Currently doing my 88 days but it is dragging haha

  33. Hi Guys,

    Any update on this going through date- wise? I done my first WHV back in 2018 also completed my farm work but my whole second year which got granted I couldn’t do anything due to covid, I was going to do my 6 months for an extra year which I obviously couldn’t, im 32 now 33 next month and want to get back over there. Any information would be greatly appreciated!

    Tom

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