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Working Holiday Australia: Visa waiver or refund announced by the government

Working Holiday Australia: Visa waiver or refund announced by the government

Following the announcement of its 2020-2021 Federal Budget, the Australian government has implement some measures concerning the Working Holiday Visa Makers. The most important ones concern the implementation of visa refunds or waivers for those who could not enter Australia due to the inward Travel Ban and those who had to leave Australia because of the pandemic. Here are the measures announced and the processes to follow to apply.

Who can request a refund or waiver?

Following the release of the Federal Budget for 2020-2021, the government has clarified some points with regards to Refunds and Waivers for WHV makers. The government has decided to offer some solutions for those who could not enter Australia or had to cut short their stay because of the pandemic. Indeed, those measures concern working holiday visa makers, but also tourists, students, temporary skilled workers and temporary skilled workers.

Working holiday Visa Holders (417 & 462)

For those who had to leave the country earlier

Travellers on working holiday visas who had to leave Australia early due to the pandemic will be eligible for a waiver, or a refund depending on their situation. A waiver means that you will be able to apply for the same visa for free when you decide to return to Australia.

On the government website, it is noted that there is no maximum time that a former WHM visa holder must have spent in Australia before departure to be able to apply for a waiver or refund. Which seems to mean that even if you spent 6 or 8 months in Australia, if you had to leave the country because of the pandemic, you will be able to apply for a new visa free of charge. However this does not apply for departures that occurred prior the beginning of the pandemic. You must have left the country because of Covid 19.

Therefore if you had to leave Australia early due to COVID-19 you will be eligible for a waiver, when you decide to return to Australia. If you are not eligible to lodge a further application because you have passed the age limit for a WHM visa, you will be able to receive a refund instead.

It is important to note that the age limit has not been extended. So those who are unable to return because they have passed the age limit to apply for a WHV, they will be able to get a refund. For info you must be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) to apply except for Canadian, French and Irish citizens up to 35 (inclusive).

Since 26 February 2021, you can apply for a refund on the government website.

For those who were not able to enter the country

WHV makers who were not able to enter Australia because of the closed borders will be able to lodge a new application free of charge. They will be able to have a new visa for free if they still under the age limit or will get a refund if they have passed it.

Refunds and waivers are available for current WHV holders who are not able to travel to Australia because of travel restrictions.

For those who have passed the relevant age limit, you won’t be able to apply for a new visa. However, you will be able to get a refund.

Process for refunds and waivers

Process for refunds

Conditions to request a refund

You must meet ALL the following requirements:

  • you were granted a WHM visa before 20 March 2020
  • while Australia’s international travel restrictions were in place, you:
    • could not enter Australia on that visa, or
    • entered Australia on that visa but departed before your visa ceased
  • your visa ceased between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 while you were outside Australia
  • you have not lodged an application for a replacement WHM visa 
  • you no longer meet the age requirement for another WHM visa

Note: You must be OUT of Australia to request a refund and your visa must be expired.

Process to get a refund

If you cannot request a new WHM visa because you no longer meet the age requirement, you can request a refund using the Covid-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form. The refund must be requested by 31 December 2022.

With the request, you must attach a completed and signed Form 1424 and supporting documents. The requested documents are mainly:

  • proof of your payment for your original application (bank statement)
  • your ‘IMMI Acknowledgement of Application Received’
  • any other documents that justify your application

Process for the VAC Waivers

From 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2022, holders and former holders of a WHM visa will be able to make a nil VAC WHM application online.

Conditions to make a nil VAC

You must be outside Australia to apply for a nil VAC WHM visa.

You must meet all of the below requirements:

  • you were granted a WHM (417 or 462) visa before 20 March 2020
  • your WHM visa expired on or after 20 March 2020 while you were outside Australia or will expire before 31 December 2021 while you are outside Australia
  • you did not travel to Australia on your WHM visa or departed Australia before your visa expired.

How to apply

You must apply for this visa online​ and must be outside Australia when applying. You will need to connect to your immi account and make your application from there.

A nil VAC WHM visa is in effect for 12 months from the date you enter Australia. You will have 12 months to enter Australia from the date your visa is granted.

Visitors and students

Tourists that could not enter the country and whose visa expired, are eligible for a waiver. So those whose visas (subclass 600) expired or will expire between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021, can apply for a Visitor (subclass 600) visa in the Tourist, Business Visitor, Sponsored Family or Approved Destination Status streams, without paying a VAC. Applications for a future Visitor visa with a VAC waiver must be lodged by 31 December 2022.

  • For students needing a further Student visa to complete their studies or to remain in Australia, they won’t have to pay for their next Student Visa.

Apply for a 408 Visa

The 408 visa is still available for all WHVs, and temporary visas holders currently in Australia. This visa has no age restriction and allows you to work legally in Australia. The visa duration will depend on your situation and can be from 3 to 12 months. The 408 visa application must be made within 28 days before your current visa expires. The application is free.

Important Information

If you entered Australia on a Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa, you can count critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors undertaken on a subclass 408 COVID-19 Pandemic event visa towards eligibility for a 2nd or 3rd WHM visa.

Home Affairs
2020-2021 Federal Budget Report

Ministry of Home Affairs
Home Affairs

The ultimate guide to work and travel around Australia with a Working Holiday Visa! Get all the tips and advice from other backpackers. The first travel guide written by Backpackers for Backpackers in Australia!!!


  1. Hi! My WHV was valid from January 2020 till January 2021. I arrived in Australia in January and I left in August (7 months in), due to the corona measures in Victoria. Will I be eligible for a waiver when I decide to return to Australia? I’m only 21 years old so my age shouldn’t be a problem!

    Thanks for your help! 🙂

  2. Hi, I am returning to the UK but still have 9 months left on my 2nd year visa. As I can’t return due to COVID will I be able to reapply for my 2nd year visa once international travel is open again?

  3. Hi I am been unable to travel to Australia due to travel restrictions and my working holiday visa is due to expire in Feb 2021 how do I apply for a refund?

  4. Hello, acquired my Working Holiday visa befor the pandemic, but as such is the case I will not be able to apply for a waiver since I’ve gone past the 30 year age limit. Have they provided a refund form? I haven’t found one yet. Thanks.

  5. Hi, has anyone tried to apply for a VAC refund yet due to coronavirus travel ban? I have reviewed the refund form 1424 but there is no option to select travel ban as the reason for the refund?

  6. Hi there,

    I have completed the 1424 form and gathered the required documents, so I can apply for a refund.

    But I have no clue where to send these documents. I’m searching for an hour now.

    Do you how where I can send the files?

      • Thanks a lot for your help 🙂

        I’ve looked it up at the suggested website, and it saids to send the form 1424 to my nearest office. I don’t understand, because I never set a foot on Australia. Do they want me to send it to a random office in Australia, like Queensland or something?

        Isn’t there like a general email address from the Department of Home Affairs I can use to send the form?

        Or would you suggest to wait for an update from the government, since I have time until the end of 2022 to request a refund?

  7. Hi there,

    I sent off my 1424 form off for a refund back in October 2020 and have heard nothing back, no email/contact or refund confirmation. I had originally booked my Subclass 417 Working Visa back in January 2020 with STA Travel (who have now ceased trading) and there is no info on their website/contact number or anything, what would you suggest? thanks

    • Hi Ellis
      The thing is we are not even sure the 1424 is the correct one to use for the pandemic situation. The government has not given the process to follow for waivers or refunds as today. You can contact the immigration to follow up on your request, that s all that can be done atm unfortunately 🙁

  8. Just for conformation. My partner could’t travel to AUS in the last year on her 417. So now we just let the Visa run out and await Mid2021 to get news about further steps regarding “renew” the visa application.

    Thanks for your time and effort

  9. Hi,

    I’m in the exact same position as Ruben, after spending hours on the unhelpful website I’ve filled out the form but there is no where to send it to… so now what are we suppose to do to? It says to log into your immi account and if your status says ‘credit’ in the payment section then you click the refund button, but that’s not the case for mine the only options are to view my receipt or invoice.

    My granted visa runs out in 2 weeks, therefore I assumed that I needed to apply for the refund prior to this but it doesn’t seem possible?!

    Would you advise waiting until it expires and logging in then to see if there’s an updated refund option?

    Seems a little concerning how hard it is to claim a refund when thousands will be in a similar situation?!

    Any advise would be appreciated!

    Many thanks,

    • Hi Freya,
      You can only apply for the refund if you are over the age limit. We have put the relevant links in the article for your to apply for the refund. You need to apply online directly on the government website and attach your completed form to the application. Please check the link above.

      • Hi,

        I understand that the government has not given the process to follow for waivers or refunds, so does that mean that if you are below the age limit and now do not wish to travel to Australia… you have no choice but to have a waiver at a later date? and cannot apply for a refund?

        Many thanks

  10. Hey guys!
    I have applied for the WHV back in Oct 2020 just before turning 31. Its been almost six months and it still on status “received”. Do you think there is a chance I will still get it approved?

  11. Hi there,
    Having read this article and comments, I’m very worried that I will not be able to get a waiver for my WHV. I left aus on 13th March 2020 for what was meant to be a 2 week holiday (5 months into my visa) and then return to complete farm work for my second year. However, I was unable to return and my visa since expired in October.
    I’m very sure that I should have the right to receive a waiver, but I didn’t leave because of covid-19. I have proof of a return flight, do you think I will be accepted to reapply?
    All of my belongings and life is still at my boyfriends house!!!
    Hope you might be able to clarify for me.

    • Hi Lucie,
      Even if you were only going for a few weeks, you were not able to come back because of the borders closure. We believe you will be able to get a waiver. You can always add a Statutory declaration to your application to explain your situation. Cheers

  12. Hi! The website of the government states that you have to apply for your nil vac whv visa before 31 December 2022. Does that mean that you have to enter the country before 31 December 2023? I’m planning on going back on my “new” whv after i finish university in 2024 so would that be too late?

  13. Hi, I have been in the process of getting my irish passport to qualify for the whv for 35year olds. I have received the passport but I turn 35 in September. With the borders closed and not likely to open till mid 2022 (if that), would it be advised not to apply for the visa.
    If I do would I be eligible for a refund if the borders stay closed for the year my visa is valid for?
    Hope that makes sense.

  14. Hi,

    I have received a refund approval for my working holiday visa but it’s been well over a month now and I have not received the money. Do you have contact details to enquire please? It says on the email to contact the department if it’s been a month.


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