Agriculture Visa | Interstaff Insights
Acting Prime Minister, Michael McCormack yesterday announced plans to deliver a new Agriculture Visa by the end of September 2021, in time for Australia’s harvesting season.
The new visa will provide agricultural businesses greater access to overseas workers and ease a growing shortage of farm workers, which has worsened since COVID-19 international travel restrictions began. Here’s a summary of what has been announced about the Agriculture Visa.
New Agriculture Visa
The new Agriculture Visa will be made available to citizens from the UK and 10 countries in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
Countries in ASEAN include:
- The Phillipines
The visa will allow workers from the UK and the above countries to come to Australia for agricultural seasonal work for three years. They will need to return home for three months each year.
It will reportedly be extended to ASEAN countries first. Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud said he looks forward to more countries being added in the future.
The ABC reported there will be no age restrictions on the Agriculture Visa. We will certainly keep you updated.
Why a New Agriculture Visa? | New Free Trade Agreement with the UK
David Littleproud believes the changes announced in an in-principle Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK on Tuesday will result in a subsequent labour shortage of up to 10,000 farm workers in Australia.
The Agriculture Visa will seek to replace this shortage.
Under the in-principle FTA, a direct labour shortage is expected because the Australian Government has agreed to remove the requirement for British backpackers to complete three months of seasonal fruit-picking work before they can extend their Working Holiday Visa.
Other relaxed Working Holiday Visa arrangements for British citizens under the FTA would include:
- Age limit to increase to 35 years of age
- Three years working rights and professional qualifications gained in one country will be recognised in the other (this will also apply to Australian backpackers in the UK)
Once in force, the above incentives and the removal of the requirement to undertake farm work as a condition of extending their working holiday visas will make it more attractive for young British citizens to come to work in Australia.
Agriculture | A Critical Industry for Skilled Visas in the COVID-19 Era
As agriculture is considered a critical industry during the pandemic, Australian producers and farmers have several options available to engage visa holders:
- Visa holders in Australia may be able to extend their stay for agricultural work:
- This may be via the 408 Pandemic Event Visa.
- Applicants for the TSS Visa and Regional 494 Visa are prioritised for processing as agricultural work is considered critical.
- Several relaxed visa rules were announced for agricultural business as part of the Federal Budget.
- Student Visa holders in Australia can work unlimited hours in the agricultural, hospitality, tourism, aged care and disability care industries following an announcement by the new Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke last month.
- Overseas applicants – Travel Exemptions for Critical Work are available for agricultural work – therefore sponsoring skilled visa holders based overseas may be an option.
- Global Talent Visa options – Agri-food and AgTech are priority sectors for the Global Talent Visa.
- Pacific Island Labour Scheme – this is still an available visa option during the pandemic. It provides a pool of 25,000 workers willing to undertake seasonal work.
Interstaff | Migration in the COVID-19 Era
According to the ABC, there is already an estimated 26,000 worker shortage on Australian farms.
The Agriculture Visa will surely be welcomed by businesses, who have been calling for an industry-specific visa well before the pandemic closed Australia’s borders.
We hope this is helpful – you may also be interested in other articles in our series, ‘Migration in the COVID-19 Era’.
Australia’s Border Could Re-Open in 2022
Leaving Australia | Outbound Travel Exemptions
Critical Work and Compassionate Travel Exemptions to Come to Australia
Applying for a Partner Visa in the COVID-19 Era
Should you require advice on your visa or travel exemption options, we encourage you to get in touch with Interstaff’s Registered Migration Agents.