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.
UPDATE JANUARY 2023 : Applications for waivers are now closed. You had until 31 December 2022 to apply on the government website. If you have missed the deadline, we advise you to write to the immigration through your immiaccount.
Who can request a refund or waiver?
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.
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.
2020-2021 Federal Budget Report
Ministry of Home Affairs
Do I use the same refund form as before for Working Holiday Visa or where do I find the correct form?
The forms should be specific to the current situation, but we do not have more info at this stage.
Hi there, does this mean that the current form should not be used to request a refund due to the travel ban?
No new forms available for the request at this stage 🙁
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! 🙂
If you had to leave the country because of the pandemic, you should be able to apply for a waiver 🙂
Hello, is there any link or form ? My visa 417 we pires in one week. When do i have to ask for a waiver and reapply ?
So far no link provided. Check this link for up to date info : https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/refunds-and-waivers-visa-application-charges#toc-6
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?
The VAC waiver will apply for a further application if you were unable to travel to Australia because of travel restrictions or had to leave Australia early due to COVID-19. So in theory you should be able to apply. Cheers
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?
The immigration has not yet provided the form or process to follow yet. We will update the article once we have more info. Cheers
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.
No form provided at this time. We are not sure the form 1424 (https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/form-listing/forms/1424.pdf) can be used for this refund.
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?
We are not sure the 1424 form can be used for this specific request. The government has not provided a new form for the refund at this stage.
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?
As mentionned, we are not sure the 1424 can be used for the covid situation. But you can find the details to send back the form here https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/change-in-situation/get-a-refund
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?
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
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 🙁
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
We hope the info will be available soon !
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!
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.
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?
The process for refund has been provided (please see ‘refund process’ above). If you are not over the age limit you cannot ask for a refund however, you can choose to apply for a new visa free of charge later on.
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?
Yes you can still get it approved. Visa processing times are quite slow atm due to the current pandemic. Cheers
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.
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
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?
Hi Carly ,
You are right you have to apply before 31/12/22. Once it is approved you ll have 12 months to enter Australia. Cheers
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.
Hi Ash, You can apply up until you turn 36 (so the day before). If you apply now or before turning 36 and borders still closed, you should be able to apply for a refund. Cheers
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.
You can call 13 18 81. Thx
J’ai obtenu mon WHV 417 en février 2020, ce dernier a expiré en février 2021. j’ai 26 ans mais je ne souhaite plus partir car le covid à changé mes plans. Puis-je me faire rembourser ?
Pour prétendre au remboursement il faut avoir dépassé l’age limite de demande du whv. En théorie donc non. Cependant, vous pouvez toujours faire la demande de remboursement en expliquant votre situation, les raisons de votre demande. Cheers
Hi! My name is Samina Logona and I currently have a student visa which was granted in August 2020. My visa expires in 2023. I am supposed to be in Bne, AUS but due to border restrictions and the never ending pandemic, I am unable to make it through. I am 28 years old. Am i eligible for visa refund?
Thanks for your help!
You can apply for a waiver for your next student visa : https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/student-and-temporary-graduate-visas
Hi, I left Australia with exactly a month left on my visa in April 2020 due to Covid. Do you think it’s likely this will be accepted as I only had a month left (but have completed some farm work)?
Yes we don’t see why it wouldn’t be approved. Cheers
If I plan to return to Australia in July 2022, do you think it would be a good idea to apply for the nil vac visa as soon as possible or wait? I understand there’s up to a 4 month wait for this to be processed
Yes the processing times are quite slow at the moment. I would advise you to apply beginning of 2022 to have some time to prepare! Cheers
I applied for my working holiday visa (subclass 417) on the 9th of January 2021.
My application continues to say received. I do not meet all the requirements to be eligible for a refund or a nil vac application.
I know people who have applied recently for the working holiday visa and it’s been granted straight away.
Is the best thing to do to withdraw the application and reapply?
Have you contacted the immi from your account to follow up the application? It can be a good option indeed to cancel your first application and apply for a VAC. Cheers
I had to leave Australia then couldn’t enter because of covid restrictions on the holiday working visa. I can’t find the page to apply again for a waiver? Do you know where I can do this?
The link to apply for a waiver is in the article : https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/covid-19-vac-refund-request
Hi ! I have had a 462 Whv since 2019 and is expiring in two months (my 3rd year). I never left the country. Would I be eligible for nil Vac WHV ?
3 years should be the maximum but I would definitely advise you to try anyway ! Cheers
Hi, I just stumbled across this page. I was in Australia from Dec 2019, and left in Aug 2020 because of the pandemic… if I’m understanding correctly I can apply for another working holiday visa?? (I was there on 417). My other question, do you have until your 31st birthday to apply, or until your 31st birthday to enter? i.e I can apply before my 31st birthday and then I have a year to enter?? Thanks so much in advance, I never knew this was a possibility!
Yes if your visa has been affected by the pandemic you ll be able to obtain a new one free of charge. You ll have until your 31st bday to apply and 32nd to enter the territory. Of course this will change with the entry into effect of the FTA 🙂
Hello, I was wondering if you can help, I currently hold a working visa for Australia (subclass 417), it expires in February 2023, I wanted to extend it however by then I would have only been able to work for 2 months and not the 3 thats needed to extend is there any way around this so I am able to extend or even get a new visa? as i don’t think i can get a waiver cause i went this year but can i get a refund and reapply?
You wont be able to extend this visa… unfortunately no refunds are possible for visa application.
I was a granted a working holiday visa in February 2020 with plans to travel to Australia in July 2020 but did not travel because of Covid 19. My Visa has now expired. I have applied for a refund 2 months ago and have still not had a reply. I want to get a new visa to travel to Australia in December. Can I apply for a new visa while still awaiting a refund for the previous one? This is urgent
You will probably wont get the refund if you qualify for a new visa (under age limit). Yes you can apply for a new visa 🙂 Cheers
I would be incredibly happy if you could help me guys! I can’t figure it out by myself…
On the 9th of March 2020 I applied for an Australian visa (Visitor subclass 600). I received my visa on the 12th of March 2020. Can I get my 150 AUD back?
The government website is a bit confusing to me, since I am not natively speaking English..
Thanks for the help!
You ll be able to apply for a new tourist visa free of charge. Cheers
HI , I was granted a visa on 13 march 2020 and was unable to enter the country due to covid, I now want to enter Australia in February, is my visa still valid to enter to not? of course I couldn’t enter within the year normally allowed due to covid
Your visa was only valid for a year so you ll need to reapply for a new one (free of charge). Cheers
Is a WHV VAC waiver approval equal to the actual visa approval? I am elgible for the waiver, but I am planning on re-entering Australia in July 2024. Is this a possibility or do I have to enter Australia no later than a year after the waiver has been approved? Or do I request the waiver before December 31st, and then request the actual visa before I am planning on returning? I am not sure how it works 🙂
Hello! I am too old to get a new WHM visa and mine expired when I left Australia due to covid so I want to ask for the refund.
Unfortunately I cannot get a proof of payment (receipt) of the visa fees as I paid in October 2019 and the bank transaction details are not available anymore.
Can you explain how a Statutory Declaration must be written in Australia to maximize my chances of refund? Looking at australian websites it seems an official witness (like a policeman, banker, etc) needs to sign such a Declaration. Which is not possible in my case..
Hi Catherine, you ll need to DL a template (https://www.ag.gov.au/legal-system/publications/commonwealth-statutory-declaration-form). You have until 31/12/22 to request a refund! Cheers
Hi, I had to leave Australia in March 2020 due to COVID. I wasn’t aware of the 31st December 2022 deadline to request a refund. Is there any grounds for an extension please?
Hi Hannah, not too sure about that but you can try to do a new application 🙂
Hi Hannah, I am in the same situation, I wasn’t able to use my visa at all due to the pandemic & was also unaware of the deadline! Did you find out wether you could still apply for a refund?
Hi Isabelle, it seems there’s no exemption possible however it is worth trying !
I also just found out about this, just had a call with the visa apartment, but i could not hear her clearly on the phone. She said something about a waiver on the date of january 2022 to april 2022. i’m still going to try through a form on their website and sended the link of this article as well. Also might give them another call. not giving up!
Let me know if you know something more.
Hi Rudger – yep you could apply for a new WHV free of charge but you needed to do that before 31/12/2022.
Me and my partner are looking to get back into Australia since we had to leave due tho the pandemic! we didn’t know about the deadline for the NIL VAC visa on December 2022 . Is there anyway we could get back into Australia to work or are we never able to get a WHV again?
Hi Shannon, quite hard to say yes… did you do your 88 days ? are you and your bf UK citizens ? If so you could benefit from a second and third year without the need to do regional work thanks to the FTA…