New WHM arrangements for UK passport holders

New WHM arrangements for UK passport holders

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​​New Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa arrangements for UK passport holders​

Australia and the UK have agreed to put in place new arrangements under the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program and Youth Mobility Scheme within two years of the entry into force of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (Australia-UK FTA). When the new arrangements commence, UK passport holders will be able to:

  • apply for a Working Holiday visa between the ages of 18 and 35 years inclusive
  • be granted up to three Working Holiday visas without having to meet any specified work requirements. This does not include any ‘COVID-19 affected visa’.

Commencement of new arrangements

The Australia-UK FTA has not yet entered into force. For more information, see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

The new arrangements will start for WHMs within two years, on a date agreed on between Australia and the UK.

The new arrangements will apply to all Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa applications for UK passport holders lodged from the date of implementation.

Increased eligible age range for UK applicants

The eligible age for UK applicants for Working Holiday (subclass 417) visas is currently 18 to 30 years inclusive.

When the new arrangements commence, the upper limit will increase to 35 years. UK passport holders will then be able to lodge an application for any Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa up until the day before their 36th birthday.

Removal of ‘specified work’ requirements

To be eligible for a second or third Working Holiday visa applicants currently must show that they have done at least three or six months of ‘specified work’.

When the new arrangements commence, UK passport holders will not have to meet this requirement when applying for a second or third Working Holiday visa.

Maximum stay of three years

Working Holiday visa holders can currently stay three years in Australia. This stay consists of three separate visas granted for 12 months each. This excludes any ‘COVID -19 affected visa’. These arrangements will not change. When the new arrangements commence, UK passport holders will not have to meet any specified work requirements when applying for a second and third visa.

You can choose to apply for a first, second and third visa at any time while you still meet the eligible age requirement. You do not need to stay in Australia for three years in a row.

If you have already spent one or two years in Australia on a Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa before the new arrangements commence, you will be able to apply for the remaining visas under the new arrangements. This will enable you to access the maximum of three years in Australia.

Other WHM program settings

All other existing arrangements under the WHM program, including the six-month work limitation per employer, will continue to apply to UK passport holders.

Scenarios for the new arrangements

Example 1: Amanda came to Australia on her first Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa in 2015. She was 25 years old. Amanda returned to the UK in 2016. Amanda is now 32 years old. She cannot apply for another Working Holiday visa as the age limit for applicants is 30 years.

When the new arrangements commence, Amanda will be able to apply for second and third Working Holiday visas. She can apply from in or outside Australia, up to the age of 35 years. She will not need to meet any specified work requirements.

Example 2: Bridget was in Australia on 20 March 2020 when COVID-19 travel restrictions started. She was on her first Working Holiday visa (a ‘COVID-19 affected visa’). She returned to the UK without completing any specified work. Her visa ceased before 31 December 2021.

She is eligible to apply outside Australia for a new Working Holiday visa with no Visa Application Charge (an ‘offshore nil VAC visa’ ). This will replace her ‘COVID-19 affected visa’. She can carry out three months of specified work on her offshore nil VAC visa. This would make her eligible for a second visa, as the ‘COVID-19 affected visa’ will no longer count towards the maximum of three visas.

Alternatively, when the new arrangements commence, she will be able to apply for a second and third visa (in addition to the offshore nil VAC visa). She will not need to meet any specified work requirements.

Example 3: Colin was in Australia on 20 March 2020, on his second Working Holiday visa (a ‘COVID-19 affected visa’) when COVID-19 travel restrictions were imposed. Because of the pandemic, he could not complete the six months of specified work required to apply for a third visa. He transitioned to a COVID-19 Pandemic event (subclass 408) visa to remain in Australia.

From 5 March 2022, he is eligible to apply in Australia for a new Working Holiday visa with no Visa Application Charge (an ‘onshore nil VAC visa’). This replaces his ‘COVID-19 affected visa’. He can carry out six months of specified work on his onshore nil VAC visa to become eligible for a third visa. The ‘COVID-19 affected visa’ will no longer count towards the maximum of three visas.

Alternatively, when the new arrangements commence, he will be able to apply for a third visa (in addition to the onshore nil VAC visa). He will not have to meet any specified work requirements.

Example 4: Doug held a first Working Holiday visa in Australia in 2017. He returned to the UK before the COVID-19 pandemic. If he wishes to apply for another Working Holiday visa before the new arrangements start, he will have to meet the specified work requirements.

When the new arrangements commence, he will be eligible to apply for second and third Working Holiday visas, up to the age of 35 years. He will not need to meet any specified work requirements. He can apply from in or outside Australia.

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