A historic trade agreement has been struck between Australia and the UK.
New visa options are in the pipeline following the announcement of a new trade agreement between Australia and the UK.
The deal, which has been agreed in principle by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson, could boost the Australian economy by up to $1.3 billion a year.
No implementation dates have been announced and the finer details no doubt need to be ironed out, but plans include:
- Increasing the age limit to 35 for Britons and Australians on working holiday visas. The cut-off point is currently 30.
- Removing the requirement for British citizens to complete 88 days of specified work in a regional area in order to qualify for a second working holiday visas. Australians backpackers travelling to the UK are not required to complete farm work, so British travellers coming to Australia can expect the same treatment here in future.
- Greater mutual recognition of professional qualifications from each country. We don’t have the specifics on this part of the deal yet, but it could make life easier for professionals seeking to move between the UK and Australia for work.
- Australian working holiday visa holders visiting the UK may in future be able to work for up to three years. We do not yet know if the same applies to eligible British backpackers coming to Australia. At the moment, British backpackers can apply for subsequent working holiday visas (each of 12 months length); however, agricultural work is required to qualify.
The trade agreement will no doubt be warmly welcomed by under-35s moving in both directions. We do not yet know whether work limitations will apply (e.g. six months only with one employer), but watch this space for more information.
New Farm Visas
Concerns have been raised that removing the regional work requirement for Brits wanting to secure a second and third working holiday visa will make life difficult for Australian farmers who are already facing severe labour shortages.
It is estimated that in normal, non-pandemic times, around 10,000 British backpackers supplement the agriculture workforce in Australia.
However, the Government plans to counter this anticipated loss of labour with the introduction of two new farming visas.
ASEAN Farm Visa
A new farm visa will be available to citizens of ASEAN (Association of South Asian Nations) countries, with the possibility that more countries could be added to the scheme in future.
ASEAN member states include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
It has been reported that the new agricultural visa will be available before the end of the year, possibly as early as September. Nationals’ leader Michael McCormack has signalled that he wants to see the visa in place as soon as possible.
UK Farm Visa
Separately, there will be a new farming visa for British citizens. This will not be part of the Working Holiday Visa program.
This visa plan has been reported, but further details are not available at this time. We are excited to see what this scheme will involve.
Backpackers and 408 Pandemic Event Visa
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic leading to border closures, there are still tens of thousands of temporary visa holders in Australia.
Backpackers working in critical sectors like tourism and hospitality, healthcare and agriculture have been able to secure a subclass 408 pandemic event visa (also known as a COVID 408 visa) following the expiry of their working holiday visas, with some being granted full work rights for up to a year.
If you came to Australia on a working holiday visa and you’re nearing your expiry date, get in touch to discuss your visa options. You may be surprised to learn that you’re eligible to remain here for much longer than you anticipated.
We will update this article as soon as further information becomes available. To avoid missing out on visa policy news and updates, follow our Facebook page.