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.
UPDATE 6/12/2022: Lord Ian Botham is currently visiting Australia to boost the Free Trade agreement. Hopefully this will accelerate the process and the agreement will soon enter into force.
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.
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.