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  • Writer's pictureDessie

Australian Working Holiday program offers extended visas

New Legislative Instruments have come into effect on 5 March 2022 to offer applicants in the Working Holiday programs to access further time in Australia including zero visa application fee for certain applicants in this visa program.

Many Working Holiday visa holders who came to Australia prior to the pandemic related border closure suffered the impact and were unable to take advantage of their ability to work and travel in Australia. These visa Working Holiday holders are considered a COVID-19 affected cohort. As long as prior to 31 December 2022 they make an application onshore in Australia for a further visa in the Working Holiday program including subclass 417 and subclass 462 they will be granted a further 12 months visa and will be offered the opportunity to then complete specified work and apply for an extension. Subject to meeting other eligibility criteria these visa applicants will be treated as though their COVID-19 affected visa never existed. Consequently, allowing for additional time in Australia.

The federal government recognises that some onshore visa applicants in the Working Holiday program have significant issues with renewal ot their passports while in Australia due to the pandemic. Therefore, the Department of Home Affairs will accept visa applications to be made without a valid passport. They would need to obtain a renewal of their passports for the visa to be granted.

To facilitate visa renewals in the Working Holiday Program tourism and hospitality work, carried out after 21 June 2021 in Northern Australia and Remote and Very Remote Australia is considered specified work for both subclass 417 and subclass 462 visas.

Further measure is taken to give power for the Minister for Immigration to exempt holders of certain passports from meeting ‘specified work’ requirements when they apply for a second or third WHM visa. This measure is preparation for the implementation of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement which is not yet in effect. The new arrangements will be implemented within two years of the Agreement entering into force.

Finally, the federal government introduced a new regime to monitor Australian employers who offer work to holders of visas in the Working Holiday Program who are suspected in potential non-compliance with State or Territory or Commonwealth legislation in respect of the employment of overseas nationals. The Minister for Immigration now has the power to consider employers falling in this category an ‘excluded employer’ which would limit the opportunities to access labour from overseas nationals. The Minister will give notice to any employer considered for such exclusion outlining the Minister's reasons and seeking a response and written submissions prior to taking any further measures. The purpose is two-fold to create greater awareness amongst Australian employer in respect of engaging overseas nationals in the Working Holiday Program and ensuring these visa holders from subject to equal terms and conditions of employment as Australians.

Contact Assent Migration Lawyers for assistance with your next visa in the Working Holiday Program.

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