Australia is changing its visa laws to benefit backpackers - here’s what you need to know

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 9:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 9:44 am
Those hoping to visit Australia and help communities affected by the terrible bushfires will still be able to do so, but visa rules have changed (Photo: Shutterstock)

Those hoping to visit Australia and help communities affected by the terrible bushfires will still be able to do so, but visa rules have changed.

The government has amended rules for the Working Holiday visas in order to allow for further volunteer work in areas affected by bushfires.

Remain in a role for up to a year

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The Working Holiday visa (also known as the 417 visa), has up until now meant that workers have had to change their employer every six months. But under the new rules, volunteering in fire-affected areas will count as work, and allow backpackers to stay for up to a year in a single job.

However, they will still need to apply within 88 days of work for a second or third year visa.

What is the aim of this change?

The aim of this visa change is to ensure that the communities who need volunteers can get the help that they need - especially where help will be on a longer-term basis.

When does this visa change come into effect?

The change in the visa criteria has come into place with immediate effect.

Which areas will the volunteering include?

The volunteering will include areas in:

Eastern VictoriaSouth Eastern New South Wales and Kangaroo IslandSouth Australia.

The bushfires tore through these areas, with nearly half a billion animals believed to have died.

Volunteer work will include tasks such as assisting in building new homes or helping to clear land to repair railways, roads and dams.

Who is eligible?

All British passport holders up to the age of 30 are currently eligible for the 417 Working Holiday Visa.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, said in a statement, "These hard-working Australians have been hit by the recent bushfires, but from today they can employ backpackers for six months longer, helping them at a critical time in the recovery effort.

"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."

To find out more, visit the Australian government website or Tourism Australia.