Working Holiday Visas. Everything You Need to Know.

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Working Holiday Visas. Everything You Need to Know.

Working Holiday Visas. Everything You Need to Know.

Many tourists travel on a Working Holiday Visa. A Working Holiday Visa allows travellers to visit Australia while picking up employment to either share their knowledge, skills and culture or to earn some extra money.

Businesses can benefit from employing Working Holiday Visa holders. Holiday visa holders can fill positions where there is a temporary increase in demand that doesn’t warrant the employment of a permanent staff member or they may fill a short term skills gap the business may be currently experiencing.

To hold a Working Holiday Visa, the main purpose of a traveller’s visit must be for an extended holiday. These visas are valid for 12 months but limit holders to a maximum of six months work with any one employer unless the Department of Home Affairs has granted them permission to work with said employer for longer.

The idea of these visas is that holders can have a holiday, work a little then move on to their next holiday destination and undertake work again.

What is considered work?

Work is defined as any employment undertaken on a full-time, part-time, casual, shift or voluntary basis. Any work place based training is also considered work.

If a visa holder is referred to an employer by an agency or labour supplier to a business, they can work up to six months for that one business. They can be referred to another business by the same agency or labour supplier where they can undertake employment for another six months. They cannot stay with the same employer for more than six months by using a different agency or labour supplier.

Are there exceptions to the rules?

There are some instances where they do not need to seek permission to work with the same employer for more than the allocated six months. They may work for the same employer for more than six months without permission if they are not working in the same location beyond the six month period. Some examples are as follows:

  • Hotels, resorts or restaurants within the same chain but in different locations
  • Independently owned franchises, in different workplaces
  • State and territory schools and health care facilities, provided they are at different addresses
  • Separate branches or facilities (abattoirs or farms) of the same organisation or business owner.

What industries allow employment longer than six months?

Employment extensions may be available for the following industries in Northern Australia.

  • Aged and Disability Care
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Mining
  • Tourism and Hospitality
  • Northern Australia is defined by postcodes so it’s important to check if a particular location falls within these guidelines to avoid a breach in visa conditions.

Second Working Holiday Visa

Travellers may apply for a second Working Holiday Visa. If an applicant is successful in obtaining a second Working Holiday Visa, the six month limitation resets and they may continue to work for the same employer for a further six months. 

Again, there are industries that are exempt from second visa extensions. These are:

  • Au pairs and aged and disability workers
  • Tourism and Hospitality
  • Construction

What can employers do to keep their visa holder employees for more than six months?

Often, an employer finds that the visa holder they have employed is a great asset to their company and wants to keep them beyond the six month deadline. In order to do this, they must obtain person from the Office of Home Affairs.  

Permission to work with an employer for more than six months is only granted in limited circumstances. If granted the extension, it will usually only be for a short period of time, often days or weeks.

When seeking an extension employers will need to justify their reason for wanting to extend the six month employment period. Justifiable reasons include:

  • The employee is critical to the completion of a specialised project that has run over time
  • Performing disaster recovery work after a major disaster. E.g. Clean-up, rebuilding or emergency management
  • Awaiting a decision on an application that would allow the employee to continue in a full time capacity without leaving Australia. E.g. awaiting approval of a Temporary Skill Shortage Visa or a Spousal Visa.

Requests for extending employment must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the end of the six month employment period. Visa holders must receive written permission from the Department of Home Affairs prior to extending their employment.

This issue can be quite complex. If you are an employer seeking to extend the employment of a Working Holiday Visa holder please visit the Visa Solutions Australia website, to find out all you need to know.

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