Australia considers major change to working visa age limit

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Australia’s popular working visa scheme attracts travellers from all over the world. The country is now considering raising the age limit to entice people with a wide range of skills to visit.

Margy Osmond, Tourism and Transport Forum Australia chief executive, said Australia could see more benefits from the program if it raised the age limit from 35 to 50.

She told ABC Radio: “It opens up to a marketplace of people who have different skills and perhaps more professional skills that we could use within the tourism sector. We need to be a bit more creative in terms of how we fill jobs.”

Andrew Giles, Australia’s Immigration Minister, said the country had slashed the visa backlog ahead of the summer holidays.

Around 120,000 backpackers were approved for working visas ahead of Christmas, according to the Government.

Changes to the working holiday scheme now mean that backpackers will be able to work for one employer for the length of their visa.

Currently, backpackers have to work in the agricultural sector for three months if they want to extend their visa.

Osmond said she would like to see the range of sectors expanded to help out other industries with skills shortages.

She said: “We would like to see a few more options and a recognition of how difficult times are.

“We certainly wouldn’t want to make life any more difficult for the agricultural sector, we’re simply raising it as a thought process.”

Backpackers on a working holiday visa can join a range of sectors in Australia, with many people opting to work in hospitality.

Retail jobs are also relatively easy to find during peak summer season while other travellers work as tour guides.

Backpackers can also apply for office work although this is more tricky to find and tourists may need specific skills.

Under the current rules, the majority of backpackers must undertake 88 days of farmwork if they want to extend their working holiday visa.

Typical jobs include fruit picking, working as a farm hand with livestock or packing vegetables for sale.

South Australia recently offered 200 young people the chance to travel to the country for just £10.

The lucky winners were offered a return ticket for £10 if they had already purchased a working holiday visa.

Australia working holiday visa rules (Australian Government)

  • Must hold a passport from an eligible country
  • Be 18 to 30 years or 35 in some countries
  • Apply online from outside Australia
  • Not be accompanied by dependent children
  • Not have previously entered Australia on a subclass 417 or 462 visa

Travellers with the 12 month visa can:

  • Do short-term work in Australia to help pay for the holiday
  • Study for up to four months
  • Travel to and from Australia as many times as they want
  • Do three months of specific work to qualify for a second visa

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