Extendable visas to be made available in Australia soon

Here’s how you can travel to Australia and remain in the country for up to three years. Source: Shutterstock.

EARLIER this week, Australia announced it will be extending its working holiday visas so backpackers and other visitors on working holidays will be able to stay in the country longer.

Previously, Australia’s one-year “Working Holiday Maker” visas only allowed travelers to remain for a second year if they took up work in the remote Northern Territory.

But what is the catch?

The visa extension, which was rolled out under a federal government plan, will only be given if travelers help meet the acute shortage of farm laborers. Yes, this means you could very well be picking strawberries on a farm in the eastern state of Queensland.

A six-month period of doing agricultural work will be required for the so-called ‘backpacker visa’ to be approved. Travelers will be able to remain in Australia for up to three years.

Last week, a survey published by the University of New South Wales found that most international students and backpackers working in Australia earned only a fraction of the minimum wage.

When asked if he was considering eliminating the 15 percent tax on working holidaymakers, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison firmly said, “No.”

Source: Shutterstock.

“When people come, and they work, they pay tax,” The Guardian quoted Morrison as saying. “We all pay tax when we work. If other people come here and they work, they pay tax too. And they pay it at a concessional rate, and I think it’s a pretty fair deal.”

Since 2017, the Australian government has been reducing the scope of temporary working visas as part of a broader effort to curb immigration.

From 2017 to 2018, more than 200,000 working holidaymaker visas were granted, with Britain, Germany, and France providing the most participants from the 45 nations eligible for the program.

Some 419,000 backpackers visited Australia last year, spending AUD920 million in regional towns. Morrison is hopeful the visa changes will push this figure above AUD1 billion.

The visa changes will take effect from July 2019 onwards.