On 23 August 2021, the Australian Government announced the establishment of Australian Agriculture visa to build on the highly successful existing Pacific schemes. 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. Aiming at enticing Pacific and Southeast Asian workers, it is not capped and will include pathways towards permanent residency and regional resettlement.
New Agriculture Visa Targeting Countries
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 Philippines
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.
Why a New Agriculture Visa? | New Free Trade Agreement with the UK
It is widely believed that changes announced in an in-principle Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK 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.
The program will operate from 21 September, 2021 ahead of the next harvest, and comes in addition to the existing Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme, considered highly successful by the government.
More Government media release can be found here.