Working Holiday Visa Rebates: Things You Need To Know

Working Holiday Visa Rebates: Things You Need To Know

The last two years have been rocked the world on all fronts, particularly when it comes to travellers and those looking for working holiday visas. However, as the world opens up once more, those wanting to travel to Australia have another incentive to start their new life down under. In a bid to draw back tourists and working holiday makers, the Australian government announced a massive rebate program that would reimburse visa-holders for money expended on obtaining employment permits. 

Currently holding a visa and not sure what to do? Thinking about coming to Australia for a working holiday you’ll never forget? Over2Aus is here to help! Let’s talk about the things you need to know before you get on that plane.

What is the WHV Rebate?

Due to stringent border controls for international arrivals, some 23,500 working holiday visa holders and 150,000 international students are yet to arrive on Australian shores. In January 2022, the Australian government announced that they would be providing those seeking working holiday visas with a rebate on the fees - that’s right – a free permit to live and work in Australia for 12 months! Done to entice migrant workers back to the country, the working holiday visa rebate is intended to ease crippling workforce shortages and increase tourism for struggling businesses across the country. 

With the entire scheme coming at an expected cost of around AU$55 million, now is the time to jump onboard and get yourself down here! There’s one catch – you need to be arriving in the country within the next 12 weeks, or 8 weeks if you are an international student. 

Why is the Australian Government offering rebates?

Like many nations, Australia relies heavily on tourism to support its economy – in fact, tourism was the second largest export for the country up until 2020! When COVID-19 began to ravage the world, Australia shut its borders in order to limit the spread of the deadly disease. While this did prevent massive case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths, it also dealt major blows to industries that rely on foreign workers to bolster their workforce. 

Industries like hospitality, retail and agriculture have been hit particularly hard by the border closures, as overseas workers typically make up a large portion of their staff. With critical shortages in trained health and aged care workers, the Australia government needs to offer incentives for skilled migrant workers to make their way to the country. 

While an AU$55 million expenditure may seem excessive, the motivation behind the action has been met with approval by the public and other government bodies. The Australian Chamber of Commerce believes that the rebate will increase the appeal of Australia as a working tourism destination, but believes that the rebates and ‘free visa’ schemes should be extended to other parts of the country. 

“Opening the borders last month to international students, skilled migrants, working holiday-makers and other important visa holders who have to be vaccinated and tested before they arrive has demonstrated that international arrivals pose very little additional risk," Australian Chamber-Tourism Chair Josh Hart said of the visa rebates. 

With exciting developments like this promising to make life easier for keen travellers to the land Down Under, there’s no time like the present to plan the trip of a lifetime.  

Why is there a worker shortage?

There are a couple of reasons why Australia is suffering a labour shortage at the moment. Let’s talk about the most obvious ones. 

As we said before, international workers make up huge numbers in certain industries. As healthcare and aged care industries buckle under the pressure of increasing COVID cases, the need for specialised workers is greater than ever. Prior to the pandemic, qualified foreign employees made up around 30 per cent of the workforce, meaning that border closures and capped international flights affected supply to desperate businesses, hospitals and public sectors. 

Secondly, strict lockdown and quarantine measures have made life difficult for industries that require face-to-face contact with customers or working in close proximity with others. With 7-day isolation requirements for close contacts and COVID-positive individuals, hospitality and retail venues have struggled to remain open, with many forced to close their doors due to staff being unable to work. With pandemic relief packages a thing of the past, organisations are struggling to maintain regular business hours and keep their heads above water. 

Lastly, many workers changed jobs during the pandemic with a desire to spend more time with family. While this move was beneficial to mental health, businesses suddenly found themselves without employees, and crying out for workers to help them reopen their doors. Due to the snap drops in migrant workers and temporary visa holders, many businesses have warned that prices of goods and services are likely to rise as they offer greater wages to entice new employees. 

Are there any other changes?

In a bid to lure back international students and working holidaymakers, the Australian government made radical alterations to the terms of the existing visas. These changes not only make working and studying in Australia more appealing for prospective travellers, but will act as an enticement for current visa-holders to stay longer in country. 

Previously, anyone on an international student or working holiday visa was limited in the number of hours they could work per week, and how long they could stay in one job. Under changes late last year, students and foreign workers are no longer restrained to 20 hours per week, and are able to remain with one employer for longer. 

While working holiday visa holders had the option to extend their stay to two years, they were required to undertake three months of remote work in order to unlock the second 12 months. The Australian government has made plans to scrap the need for ‘country time’ in order to encourage foreign workers to remain in the country. The change hasn’t come into effect yet, but will likely change the outlook for city slickers wanting to avoid farm work during their stay. 

For those who do choose to work in remote or very remote areas (think far North Queensland, Broome or Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory), they can also qualify for a second or even third working visa under the same changes. So if chasing cattle on an outback ranch or working with Indigenous organisations in Darwin sound like a great time, a working holiday visa might be just the thing you need!

Are COVID-19 restrictions still in place?

Short answer – yes. Most state and territories have removed quarantine requirements for those travelling over domestic borders, and hospitality and public venues are open for business! However, there are still COVID-19 restrictions in place designed to protect residents and limit the spread of the disease. 

While each state or territory has its own requirements for entry, the basic components are:

  • Visitors must be double vaccinated (triple/boosted if eligible);
  • Travellers must submit to a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR swab and return a negative result;
  • Travellers must not have visited a hot spot or close-contact location within 14 days of travel.

Most major cities and towns also have restrictions, like density limits in hospitality venues, masks at indoor public spaces and mandatory check-ins for all visitors. One thing to keep in mind is that these restrictions and rules are constantly changing, so make sure that you’re up to date before moving to a new place. More information about restrictions for specific states, cities or town can be found on the Health Direct Website.

What does this mean for domestic travel?

One of the biggest appeals for travellers coming to work in Australia was the chance to explore different parts of the country. In particular, six-month limitations on employment mean that many backpackers will leave a city after only a couple of months to see the rest of the country under their own steam. Travelling around Queensland in a van, picking grapes in vineyards in Western Australia and serving delicious coffee in hip cafés in Melbourne and Sydney are all part of the ‘working holiday experience’ for many young people. 

However, strict closures and snap lockdowns mean that internal travel has been as difficult as international for residents. Students and travellers have found themselves confined to single states or even cities for the last two years, and the difficulty of being apart from family and friends has made the working holiday dream seem more like a nightmare. 

A slow vaccination roll-out and confusing state and territory requirements meant that both permanent residents and overseas visitors were subject to a chaotic 18 months.  At the end of 2021, light appeared at the end of the tunnel. New South Wales and Victoria, the two most COVID-affected states in Australia, dropped their border and quarantine requirements, and began welcoming in tourists and out-of-state residents with gusto. In mid-December, other states followed suit, with double vaccination status and a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) the only requirements for travel. 

Working holiday makers can once again travel freely through the country, as only Western Australia retains its strict border closures and quarantine for visitors. Take the time to travel between states and explore everything that Australia has to offer. With the metaphorical welcome mat rolled out for international workers and students in 2022, now is the time to jump head first into a new adventure. 

Why would I want to come to Australia?

After the last couple of years, it’s understandable that many visitors are apprehensive about overseas travel. However, you only have to look out the window to see why working in Australia can be the best decision you’ll ever make! There’s no doubt that the sunburnt country is one of the most appealing developed nations in the world, and draws millions of travellers every year from all corners of the globe.

Every part of the country offers new and exciting turns, from delightful vineyard experiences in South Australia to the most incredible road trips along the Western Australian coastline. The scenery in this southern nation is incomparable, and draws back thousands of visitors year after year. Turquoise beaches, sprawling mountain ranges and thick pristine jungle are only parts of the appeal for explorers looking to conquer a new part of the world.

The urban scene is just as thrilling as the great outdoors. Check out the deliciously vibrant art scene and hospitality culture in Brisbane, or wander amongst historic landmarks and classic architecture in the Sydney CBD. Everywhere you go, friendly locals and laid-back atmospheres are the norm, creating a high quality of life that can be found nowhere else. Fall in love with the relaxed pace of life, take part in outdoor activities or simply immerse yourself in the ‘she’ll be right’ mentality that so many Australians live by. 

No matter what circumstances you visit under, there is no doubt that you’ll be enchanted by everything Australia has to offer. If you want more reasons to visit this awesome country, Over2Aus has great city guides for visitors – check out the best ‘Things to do in Melbourne’ for an introduction to Australia’s second-largest urban areas! 

Travel to The Land Down Under with Over2Aus!

Want to tick Australia off your bucket list? Just want to know more about travelling to one of the most diverse, magical countries on the planet? If these sound like you, Over2Aus can help make your dream a reality! From visas, to discounts and our new travel checklist - our experienced team are available on live chat, email and video chat to help you sor ttrip of a lifetime. Don’t put it off any longer – get in contact today, so we can get you Over 2 Aus!

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