Working holiday visas will increase for UK and Australians up to the age of 35

The Australia UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) was signed on 17 December 2021. However, please note that the provisions of the agreement do not commence immediately.

The signed A-UKFTA must now be tabled in both of Houses of Australia’s Federal Parliament to undergo National Interest Analysis and consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). JSCOT must then table a report on the A-UKFTA, including a recommendation as to whether binding treaty action should be taken.

Once the domestic procedures have been completed and confirmed, the A-UKFTA agreement will enter into force 30 days later, or on any other mutually agreed date.

Following these processes any legislative changes required to implement components of the FTA must also pass both Houses of Parliament.

The details of the various components of the A-UKFTA will take some time to be confirm, with some taking two to five years from the ‘entry into force’ (EIF) of the Agreement, including:

  • Working holiday opportunities for both countries allowing the age limits to be lifted to 35 years and stays of up to three years will occur within two years of the EIF.
  • Managers and specialists will have guaranteed access to intra corporate transfer and graduate trainees one year transfers – no detail of the visa pathways to be utilised has been provided as yet.
  • Innovators and early career development will be piloted with a streamlined program capped at 1000 in the first year, rising to 2000 the second year, after which it will be reviewed to assess future implementation – it is expected that this pathway will utilise the Global Talent visa.
  • Agricultural workers – a joint Declaration on Agriculture and Agribusiness Workers detailing available pathways for workers in this sector will be made and UK workers have been invited to participate in the Australian Agriculture Visa, which is under development.
  • UK service suppliers including architects, scientists, researchers, lawyers and accountants will be able to access Australian visas without being subject to the occupation skilled lists.
  • Recognition of professional qualifications between Australia and the UK will be increased with improved collaboration between accreditation and regulatory bodies.
  • Australian and UK lawyers will have reciprocal rights to practice in each country.

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Working holiday visas will be extended for UK and Australians up to the age of 35 (inclusive) in a trade deal agreed with Britain after Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson.

The deal will increase the working holiday visa age limit from 30 to 35 and give Australians and Britons a total of three years to live and work in each other’s countries.

Normally, to be eligible for a second WHM visa, you must have carried out at least 3 months of specified work. ‘3 months’ is taken to mean 88 calendar days. Under the new deal British passport holders are not obliged to do the 88 fays farm work if they wish to apply for a 2nd WHV.

Previously French, Canadian and Irish citizens up to and including, 35 (inclusive) years of age became eligible to apply for a Working Holiday visa (subclass 417 & 462).

Current Working Holiday visa requirements for UK citizens

First Working Holiday visa

Currently the age of 30 years is the limit for all other Working Holiday countries (including the UK) that travel to Australia. UK citizens (not accompanied by dependant children) can get their first Working Holiday visa if they are 18 to 30 years old (inclusive), allowing them to stay for 12 months. With this visa you can:

  • do short-term work in Australia to help pay for your holiday
  • study for up to 4 months (17 weeks)
  • travel to and from Australia as many times as you want
  • do 3 months of specified work to become eligible for a second Working Holiday visa  (this is one of the changes above)
  • Usually, you can only work for the same employer for 6 months.

This is a temporary visa. You must enter Australia within 12 months of the date we grant it. DHA will not extend or defer this timeframe. The visa becomes active on the date you enter Australia. Once you have entered and the visa is activated. You must be outside Australia when you apply for this visa and when DHA decide your application.

Related:

417 visa holders working in, or intending to work in, tourism and hospitality, you may be able to extend your stay by up to 12 months through the 408 COVID-19 visa.

Second Working Holiday visa

  • do short-term work in Australia to help pay for your holiday
  • study for up to 4 months
  • travel to and from Australia as many times as you want
  • do 6 months of specified work to become eligible for a third Working Holiday visa.
Third Working Holiday visa

This visa lets UK people 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) – who currently hold, or who have held, a second Working Holiday visa, have a third working holiday in Australia.

Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program

Australia’s reciprocal Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program has been fostering stronger links between young people from Australia and around the world since 1975.

It allows young adults to have a 12 month holiday, during which they can undertake short-term work and study.

The WHM program now includes over 40 partner countries or jurisdictions in two visa subclasses, the Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa and the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa.

​​Latest Working Holiday visa news

Agreement in principle has been reached between Australia and the UK to increase the maximum eligible age from 30 to 35 years for Working Holiday Maker (WHM) applicants from the UK and Australia.

While agreement in principle has been reached, no changes have yet been made to existing arrangements.

The agreement will also provide an ​opportunity for WHMs to stay in the UK and Australia for up to three years, with no requirement to undertake ‘specified work’. Negotiations have not yet concluded, however it is anticipated that these changes will be made within five years.

The UK’s Youth Mobility program already allows young Australians to stay in the UK with unrestricted work rights for up to two years. Australia has previously negotiated arrangements on a reciprocal basis with Canada, France and Ireland to expand the eligible age range for WHM applicants to between 18-35 years.

Other partner country arrangements under the WHM program are established through bilateral negotiations and will not be affected by the Australia and UK Free Trade Agreement.

Refunds and waivers of Visa Application Charges

Former Working Holiday Makers who are currently outside of Australia may be eligible for a:

  • Nil visa application charge (VAC) WHM visa, or
  • VAC refund for their COVID-19 affected WHM visa.

More information on the nil VAC WHM visa will be available on the Department’s website once we finalise the arrangements.

For VAC refund eligibility details and how to apply, please see ​R​efunds and waivers of Visa Application Charges​.​

Transitioning earlier to a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa

From 5 January 2021, WHMs working in agriculture​ can apply for a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa up to 90 days before their current visa expires. They do not need to show that they cannot leave Australia.​

Arrangement​s for former Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) undertaking critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors on (subclass 408) COVID-19 Pandemic event visas

From 14 November 2020, former WHMs who transitioned to a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa to continue undertaking critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors can count this work as specified work towards eligibility for a second or third WHM visa. These new arrangements recognise the contribution of WHMs doing critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors and ensure they can still access subsequent WHM visa options.

Critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors to count as ‘specified work’

From 19 August 2020, WHMs can count critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors undertaken anywhere in Australia after 31 January 2020 as specified work to apply for a second or third WHM visa.

Bushfire recovery efforts to count as ‘specified work’

On 17 February 2020, th​e Government announced changes to the WHM visa program to assist communities to recover from recent bushfires.

WHMs can now count paid or volunteer bushfire recovery work in a declared disaster area, after 31 July 2019, as ‘specified work’ towards eligibility for a second or third WHM visa.

Bushfire recovery work for up to 12 months with one employer

From 17 February 2020, Working Holiday Makers (subclass 417 and subclass 462 visa holders) assisting bushfire recovery efforts can now do paid or unpaid work for up to 12 months (instead of 6 months) with the same employer or organisation without requesting permission from us.

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