The Working Holiday Makers visa programme, has received a lot of government attention in recent months. This programme encompasses two visa subclasses: the Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa, and the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa.
The need for reforms is due to the decline in numbers coming to Australia and the concern, especially in agricultural industries mainly located in regional areas, in attracting seasonal workers in low-skilled occupations. Working in a regional area for at least three months is one of the requirements for a Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa holder needs to meet in order to obtain a second Working Holiday visa.
The main ways the government has been tackling this decline is two-fold: decreasing onerous tax burdens placed on these visa holders, and providing extensions to work restrictions that prevents working for the same employer longer than 6 months. For example, policy allows the approval of extensions for a number of industries and occupations in northern Australia.
Another change, which would be well received, is lifting the age limitation for these visas from 30 to 35. While some media have reported this as a done deal, there is no legislation yet in place. In fact, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, clearly states this fact on their website:
Age of eligibility – Government announcement
The Government is considering options for expanding the upper age of eligibility from 30 to 35 years, including timeframes, legislative requirements and engagement with partner countries. Reciprocity of arrangements for Australian citizens remains a key feature of the programme. The current age of eligibility (18 to 30) will remain in place for the time being.
It is therefore too early to be announcing this change just yet. As with everything in politics, intentions are only that—intentions.