Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced yesterday that a new Agriculture Visa would be available by the end of September 2021, just in time for Australia’s harvest season.
The new visa will provide agricultural businesses with easier access to foreign workers and help alleviate a growing farmwork shortage since the COVID-19 international travel restrictions were implemented. And the acting prime minister believes that the new initiative will resolve issues related to the growing farmwork shortages. Here’s a quick rundown.
A New Agriculture Visas Is Now Available
The new Agriculture Visa will be available to citizens of the UK and 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries. ASEAN is made up of the following countries:
- The Republic of the Philippines
The visa will enable workers from the UK and the nations mentioned above to travel to Australia for three years of seasonal agricultural labour. Every year, they will be required to return home for three months and return to Australia and engage in farmwork.
According to reports, it will initially be extended to ASEAN nations. But the agriculture Minister David Littleproud said that he anticipates more nations in the future. The addition of more nations will take place once the current initiative progresses well.
According to the ABC, the Agriculture Visa will have no age restrictions. We will surely keep you informed.
Why an Agriculture Visa? | The New UK Free Trade Agreement
The modifications outlined in an in-principle Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom on Tuesday, according to David Littleproud, would result in a labor shortage of up to 10,000 agricultural workers in Australia.
The Agriculture Visa will address this shortfall.
Because the Australian government agreed to remove restrictions on British backpackers completing three months of seasonal fruit-picking work before they can renew their Working Holiday Visa under the in-principle FTA, a direct labor shortage is anticipated.
Under the FTA, other relaxed Working Holiday Visa conditions for British residents include:
- Increase the age restriction to 35 years old.
- The three-year working rights and professional qualifications earned in one country will be recognized in the other after three years (this will also apply to Australian backpackers in the UK.)
Once in effect, the incentives mentioned above and the elimination of the need for young British nationals to do agricultural work as a condition of renewing their working holiday visas will make it more appealing for them to travel to Australia to work.
Agriculture | A Critical Industry for Skilled Visas
Because agriculture was a key sector during the epidemic, Australian producers and farmers have several alternatives for engaging with visa holders:
- In Australia, visa holders who work in agriculture may be eligible to extend their stay:
- This may be done via the 408 Pandemic Event visa.
- Agricultural work is critical, so applicants for the TSS Visa and Regional 494 Visa are given priority for processing.
- Several changes to visa requirements for agricultural businesses have been announced.
- Following an announcement by Australia’s new Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, last month, student visa holders may work an unlimited number of hours in the agriculture, hospitality, tourism, aged care, and disability care sectors.
- Applicants from other countries – Travel exemptions are available for critical agricultural work. And sponsoring skilled visa holders from other countries may also be an option.
- Agri-food and AgriTech are two of the key industries for the Global Talent Visa.
- During the pandemic, the Pacific Island Labour Scheme was still a possibility for visas. It has a pool of 25,000 workers that are available for seasonal employment.
The following are some of the new critical skills and sectors for travelling to Australia:
- Primary industry
- Medical technology
- Critical infrastructure
- Engineering and mining
- Supply chain logistics
- Aged care
According to the ABC, there is a 26,000-worker shortfall on Australian farms right now. Businesses that had been asking for an agriculture-specific visa even before the pandemic blocked Australia’s borders will undoubtedly be pleased with the new visa.
We hope this is helpful.
As always, we encourage you to contact Ozvisainfo.com if you have any questions regarding your visa or travel exemption options.