September 13, 2021
The Australian Federal government has announced a new Agriculture visa on 23 August 2021.
As stated by Australian ministers, this visa responds to workforce shortages in the agriculture and primary industry sectors, and recent changes to the Working Holiday Maker program developed as part of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
The changes to the WHM program introduced in May 2021, enable WHM visa holders working anywhere in the tourism and hospitality sectors anywhere in Australia to work up to 12 months with the same employer without requesting permission. From June 2021, work was undertaken in the tourism and hospitality sectors in northern, remote, or very remote Australia can also be counted as specified work towards eligibility for a second or third WHM visa. This option will be available for WHM applications lodged from March 2022.
The Australian Agriculture visa will be available to workers across the agriculture (including meat processing), fisheries and forestry sectors.
The program will be operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Government says it will immediately commence industry consultations to understand needs across the agricultural sector.
Regulations to enable the creation of the Australian Agriculture visa will be in place by the end of September 2021. The operation of the visa will depend on negotiations with partner countries.
The Australian Agriculture visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries negotiated through bilateral agreements. Full conditions will be developed and implemented over the next 3 years as the visa is operationalized. During this implementation period, the Government will work to achieve a demand-driven approach and consider permanent residency pathways and regional settlement.
Quarantine places remain the biggest constraint to bringing in overseas workers where there are no Australians to fill workforce shortages.