Australia extends Working Holiday Maker visas to help bushfire recovery

Australia extends Working Holiday Maker visas to help bushfire recovery

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The 2019-2020 bushfire season in Australia was devastating. The fires charred over 18 million hectares of land, destroyed nearly 3000 homes, and killed one billion animals. The recovery operation is going to be massive.

This is where young travellers who work and holiday in Australia come in.

Australia is going to need all the help they can get and thus the Department of Home Affairs has extended the time frame for the Working Holiday Maker program from six months to a full year. This extension will allow visitors to assist with the bushfire recovery efforts.

Three changes to the Working Holiday Maker program

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has made the following changes to the Working Holiday Maker program:

  • A working-holiday visa holder can now work with the same employer for 12 months when assisting with bushfire recovery efforts.
  • The definition of ‘specified work’ will be revised for the Work and Holiday Maker visa (subclass 462) to ensure that construction work in a disaster area is captured.
  • Paid and volunteer disaster recovery work in declared areas impact in the bushfires will count towards the ‘specified work’ needed to apply for a second or third year 417 or 462 visa.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said in a statement on 17 February that the new rules for working holiday visas would be welcome news to farmers and regional businesses.

Mr Tudge went on to say, “It means working holiday makers can help rebuild homes, fences and farms, they can get onto properties and help with demolition, land clearing, and repairing dams, roads and railways. This recovery will be driven locally, by local workers and communities. But this will be a massive recovery effort and we want businesses and charitable organisations to have as many boots on the ground as they need.”

What is the Working Holiday Maker program?

The Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program allows young adults to have a holiday in Australia, during which they can undertake short-term work or study. The WHM program includes two visa subclasses:

  • The Working Holiday visa (subclass 417)
  • Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)

Working Holiday visa

The Working Holiday visa lets eligible candidates have their first extended holiday in Australia while working to help fund the trip. It also possible to study for up to 4 months.

To be eligible for a subclass 417 visa, you must:

  • Be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) – except for Canadian French and Irish citizens up to 35 years old (inclusive).
  • Have a valid passport from an eligible country or jurisdiction.
  • Not be accompanied by dependent children.
  • Meet certain educational requirements. The minimum education required depends on the country of passport.

Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)

The Work and Holiday visa also lets eligible candidates have an extended holiday in Australia, while working. As with the subclass 417 visa, visa holders are also allowed to study for up to 4 months.

To be eligible for a subclass 462 visa, you must:

  • Be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive).
  • Have a valid passport from an eligible country.
  • Not be accompanied by dependent children.

Find out if you qualify

If you’d like to assist apply for a visa under the Working Holiday Maker visa program, and assist with Australia’s bushfire relief, you can find out if you qualify with an eligibility assessment.

Our initial assessment is free and you can book yours right here on our website. Following the outcome, our consultants will discuss your visa options and best way forward. Hopefully you’re on a flight to Australia soon!

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