Breaking News: Expanding the working holiday visa programme

July 14th, 2015 | | industry

ImmigrationImageThe Commonwealth Government will soon amend the WHM Visa Programme to allow both Working Holiday (Subclass 417) and Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders to work an additional six months with one employer in northern Australia (for definition see below), if they work in the following high demand areas in the north:

• agriculture, forestry and fishing
• tourism and hospitality
• mining and construction
• disability and aged care.

The Government will also be giving Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders the opportunity to access a second 12 month visa if they work for three months in agriculture or tourism in the north. Working Holiday (Subclass 417) visa holders already have access to a second 12 month visa and this change means WHM Visa Programme participants could potentially be able to work for the entire duration of their two year stay in Australia — increasing the supply of seasonal and temporary labour in the north.

White paper on developing northern Australia
This will be of particular benefit to the agriculture and tourism sectors which are highly seasonal, relying on WHM visa holders to provide the labour flexibility they need in peak periods. This will also help employers get more back from those WHM visa holders that they have trained to undertake particular roles. These measures will be subject to monitoring and reviewed after two years for their impact on the domestic labour market and to ensure foreign workers are not being exploited.

Australia’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Visa Programme encourages youth mobility and tourism by allowing young adults aged 18-30 years to have an extended holiday in Australia of up to 12 months, during which they can offset their travel costs by engaging in short term work. A total of 239,592 visas were granted to participants in 2013–14.


The term northern Australia, generally known to include two states and territories, being Queensland and the Northern Territory (NT). The part of Western Australia (WA) north of latitude 26° south—a definition widely used in law and State government policy—is also usually included. The 26th Parallel also defines the southern border of the NT, whereas much of the southern border of Queensland is defined by 29° south .

Although it comprises about half of the total area of Australia, Northern Australia includes only about one quarter of the Australian population. However, it includes several sources of Australian exports, being coal from the Great Dividing Range in Queensland/New South Wales and the natural gas and iron ore of the Pilbara region in WA. It also includes major natural tourist attractions, such as Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Great Barrier Reef and the Kakadu National Park (definition from Wikipedia).


Sourced by Mike Barrow

50 Responses

    • Lucas says:

      Does any Hospitality Job count?
      By example if I work 3 months as a bartender in a place above the capricornian topic will I be eligible for the second year?

  1. At last tourism and hospitality is included , best news I’ve heard all year, great for the traveller good for the employers fantastic for Cairns.

  2. Tony San says:

    I have been running a working hostel for 10 years, as it is we are having problems getting people in, due to the illegal workers taking jobs, and this change will almost kill the industry in N>W Victoria,

  3. Nino says:

    Does anyone know when this change comes into effect?

    I’m a working holiday maker myself and looking for hospitality jobs in Brisbane:)

    • Chris Harrison says:

      Hi Nino.
      This is currently before parliament, it is not law but only a bill. However if passed into law (which is quite possible) it is intended by government to come into effect from 1 July 2016 (for the financial year end 30 June 2017). So if you are working (on a 417 or 462) now you are unaffected / if you are thinking of coming to Australia or are in Australia and thinking of extending your time here (by doing the 2nd year or changing visa) then you are very much affected. I hope this helps. Chris

      • Ashley says:

        Hi there so I’m currently on a 462 and I got here at the end of July. What are my chances of being able to stay and take part in the second year visa???

        • Chris Harrison says:

          Hi Ashley, be careful not to confuse the conditions of your 462 to the more numerous 417. The 462 for US and a few other nationalities does not currently carry a ‘second year visa’ option. IE carry out rural work for 88 days and get the opportunity to extend. There is a White Paper before the Australian Parliament regarding ‘Northern Australia’ which proposes this be possible in that part of Aus for 417 and 462s, but it isn’t law yet. Should it become so while you are still here, its your best bet. Also, you can only extend your stay in Australia if your Work and Holiday visa is not granted with a ‘No Further Stay’ condition. If your visa is granted with a ‘No Further Stay’ condition you will be advised of this in your visa grant letter. Something worth checking.

          Plus a great resource for you comes from someone who has clearly been there before:

          • Ryan says:

            Hello Chris,

            I am in the same boat, my visa expires at the end of July, so if this passes and I do the required work would I still fit the criteria, or would I have to do the work in july for three months and then apply?

          • Chris Harrison says:

            Hi Ryan, I’d be doing your 3 months now mate, do it in this financial year (before June 30) and you can (subject to residency criteria) claim the tax-free threshold, wait until after July 1 and that is less likely. Find somewhere you like, put down some roots (for residency) and get a job. BTW Australia is short of 37,000 hospitality and tourism workers this summer, so you should find something in restaurants, cafes and bars (if that’s your gig).

  4. Sky says:

    Am I understanding it correctly that only 462 visa holders will be able to do hospitality work in the North to count for the 2nd year and 417 visa holders will have the same rules as before which do not include hospitality work?

  5. Maria says:


    Is it certain that if it does come into effect it will happen the 1st of July 2016?

    Im currently working (visa 462) in the northern territory, and dont know if its worth doing the 3 months. If that meant I had a 2nd year I would definetely do it, but reading the previous reply makes me think the extension wouldnt apply to my case.

    Any information would be helpfull!



    • Chris Harrison says:

      Maria, the Depart of Immigration & Border Protection have not published anything yet regarding the Northern Australia White Paper changes to 462 and 417 visas. They had said they would have something by October. We all wait and hope it positive for you and for our sector. Chris

    • ruben says:

      maria, I am like you, I have already the 3 months in hospitality, above the tropic of capricorn in WA and QLD!! I think they should allow us to get the second year, if the 2 year visa comes in effect!!

  6. Paula says:

    What a ridiculous proposal this tax increase for WHM is, why should they pay more tax that I do as an Australian? WHM generally do work that Australians won’t do anymore .The flow on effect of these proposed changes will be quite disastrous for rural Australia and I for one have put on hold plans to buy second investment property to house them. WHM won’t be the only people to vote to go elsewhere (its the only vote they have) Shame on you Australian Government. Is there a petition available as a form of protest?

  7. Ryan says:

    Thanks Chris for the advice, I have been doing work so far in Victoria, If I wanted to get the possible 2nd year since I hold a 462, would it best to head up North to so if the bill passes I can show them I did work there and apply for the 2nd year visa?


    • Chris Harrison says:

      Hi Ryan, tricky one. So your issue isn’t the tax threshold change (pending) its the northern Australia change of WHV white paper.

      Currently 462 visa holders can’t apply for the second year, but should the white paper become a bill and then pass into law and in time for you, then yes if you head north and work you might qualify. But as this isn’t passed into law yet, its a bit of a punt.

      It really depends on how much you like Victoria and the job there versus how much more you’d rather head north and find work there! Because you might not get the 2nd year even if you do go. You have until Feb/March to make that call. GIven the variables I can’t make that call for you. Good luck and keep watching The Byte, when things change we will post here.

      • Ryan says:

        Thanks, I was thinking to head to Cairns regardless in February now fingers crossed that the bill passes so I qualify would make it sweeter

  8. Connor says:

    Sorry for another ‘what if’ question.. I have been in Aus on my first year 417 Feb 2015- Feb 2016 during my time here I have worked 30 days regional harvesting work … and 3 months hospitality in Katherine NT (June 2015-Sept 2015). If I want to apply for a second year 417 visa down the road will the white paper change if passed allow my work in the NT to be eligible? Or will it only be work that was completed after the bill is passed…? Is there a date that this bill should pass through legislation?

    • Chris Harrison says:

      Hi Connor, I ‘think’ it unlikely that the regional work (for hospitality) will be retrospective and to ensure your second year visa you’d better carry out the other 58 days work, but that is only my opinion.

      There is currently no date for the bill to be raised before partiament, like all bills its in a very long queue, it also needs to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate and require more than one reading.

  9. Chris McK says:


    Now that this bill has been passed, does it mean that any earnings after the 1st of July will be taxed from the first dollar, or will tax paid prior to July 1st be withheld also? My 417 straddles the two tax years, oct 15 – oct 16.


  10. Savannag says:

    Hey there,

    I’m trying to follow along with the threads and get my answer but it’s just confusing me even more. If this question has already been answered then I apologize in advance.

    I’m an american, currently on a 1 year working holiday that expires the second week of September. I would absolutely love to extend but don’t know how to go about it or if I’m allowed (that is if the bill is even passed). If I do the 88 days of work in the Northern Territory and the bill does happen to be passed, will they acknowledge that work and give me a second year, or will I have to complete the 88 days after the bill is passed (July 1??) ? I don’t want to end up doing it without them honoring it. Any answer is helpful, thank you so much!!


    • Chris Harrison says:

      Hi Savannah, tricky one. So your issue isn’t the tax threshold change (pending) its the northern Australia change of WHV white paper.

      Currently 462 visa holders can’t apply for the second year, but should the white paper become a bill and then pass into law and in time for you, then yes if you head north and work you may qualify. But as this isn’t passed into law yet, so its a bit of a risk. Remember a ‘white paper’ is nothing more than a discussion paper, this could take a long time. Cheers Chris

      • Michael B. says:

        Hey Chris,

        My partner and I are in the same boat as Savannah but have already done 3 months of rural work (what would qualify for the second year if we had the 417 instead of the 462), and our visa ends in August. Say the bill becomes law July 1; is there any indication that the government would count our previous work towards a potential second year extension? Since we wouldn’t have 3 months to spare after July 1 that would be our only way to stay.

  11. Joanna says:

    To all those enquirers – whether for 462 or 417 visas – do the regional work on farms and you will have an unforgettable adventure, learn some life skills, cash in your pocket and maybe the added bonus of an extra year.

  12. Harry Chai says:

    Any updated info about Whv 462 able or not to extend second year visa..?

  13. Zach Larsen says:

    Just wondering if there is any news about the proposed changes to the 462 work and holiday visas. Any help would be great.

  14. Lion says:

    Hey Folks!

    I am currently on my first year visa subclass 417. I been working in the tourism industry in Airlie beach 4802 Queensland! Does this enable my to extend for a 2nd year visa? I am not sure if the tourism work also applies to 417 visa holders to count as specified work.

    Thanks Lion

  15. devil god says:

    It is 2nd July so can 462 is allowed to be extended for the 2nd year?

  16. Now that we are into July 2016 can tourism and hospitality north of the 26th parallel employ backpackers for 88 days making them eligible for their 2nd years visa??

  17. Farid Yaacob says:

    Pending the necessary legislation coming into effect, applications will open in late 2016 for 462

  18. Chris Harrison says:

    I’ve been requested by a reader to provide an update to the following:
    “Can you confirm that 417 visa holders are ALSO eligible for the extension under tourism and hospitality industry in Northern Australia?”

    This link provides the best current information to this question, if anyone has an update or additional info please include here,

  19. Tom says:


    This is a very interesting thread and I am trying to gain a little insight into the recent talk of changes. I am living in Cairns where I am about to finish my 6months with my first employer. I have seen that they age for Visas may rise to 35, I am currently 31.

    IF that happens, I will do my regional work in the next few months and possible quality for a second year. Currently I am too old. Does anyone know if along with the age raise for a 417 visa from 31 to 35 will the 2nd year visa qualifying age will raise too????

    Im hopeing yes, I ideally want to finish my first year visa and then leave for some weddings in the US and then come back later.

    Thanks in advance!!!

    • Chris Harrison says:

      Hi Tom, the change from 30 to 35 is currently tied to any tax change. This is currently before the Senate and not likely to be finalised for at least 3 weeks.

      And when it is there is no indication of when it will apply or if it will in anyway be retrospective. We (in the industry) are all crying out for a decision from the Senate. So that we and you can move forward with life and life’s decisions.

      But the politicians like playing politics and so we wait.

      Please keep an eye on The Byte, as we will report anything new asap and as accurately as possible.

      • Rob says:

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for the news on this – the above is the most informative info I’ve found on the topic of the age limit increase. I was therefore wondering if you had heard any updates? I’m very keen for the age limit to change as planning a trip over later this year and a working holiday visa would be far more preferable than a 3 month e-visa. At the moment I’m checking the official website everyday hoping for it to change. Be great to know what is going on and if it is likely.

        Rob (UK)

        • Chris Harrison says:

          Hi Rob
          Thanks for finding us (all the way in the UK) and we are glad to be of service. Getting accurate and up to date information on current visa status can be a challenge, both you consumers (you) and travel trade (us). They don’t make it easy. But whenever we hear anything we will add it to The Byte, so please keep watching. The age limit increase is on the govt agenda and was included with the backpacker tax changes but no dates were offered. Surprise surprise!

          • Rob says:

            Thanks Chris. Appreciate you taking the time to reply. I’ll keep checking the site hopeful for an update. Thanks again.

  20. David says:

    Hello everyone!!
    I’m a 462 visa holder currently working in north queensland.
    And would like to ask if this visa has already the approval for the second year,
    If this is the case:
    Just work above the 46th parallel would be elegible??
    Or also any regional work would be valid??
    I’m also wondering when the days start to count as in the embassy webpage,
    explains that only when the legislation is approved your days start to count against the 88 days.
    Thanks for your help

    • Chris Harrison says:

      Hi David
      This is what was supposed to happen – Further changes will follow in 2016 which will allow Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders to extend their stay in Australia by a further 12 months if they work for at least three months in agriculture or tourism in northern Australia.

      It hasn’t happened yet and there is no clear advice on the website. So

      This is who you contact next:

      The Federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Its his department, his decision and his Inbox.


  21. Nina says:

    I’m on a Work and Holiday visa, until 15 March 2017. I’ve got a job in tourism in Cairns lined up, starting 4 December. I’m going there for 3 months just to be able to apply for a 2nd year visa. On website it says the legislation will come into effect in late 2016 and somewhere I read that the exact date will be today – 16 November. Does anyone know anything about this?? Are the news on immigration AUS website reliable or can it take longer than what they say??


    • Chris Harrison says:

      Hi Nina
      This is what was supposed to happen – Further changes will follow in 2016 which will allow Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders to extend their stay in Australia by a further 12 months if they work for at least three months in agriculture or tourism in northern Australia.

      It hasn’t happened yet and there is no clear advice on the website. So

      This is who you contact next:

      The Federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Its his department, his decision and his Inbox.


  22. Hi guys,

    Changes to the work and holiday subclass 462 visa come in to place on November 19th 2016, so that is in 3 days time!

    We are still trying to find out more info but this is what we know

    The introduction of undertaking work for second year visa (which includes work in tourism and hospitality in Northern Australia) will be available from November 19th.

    Hopefully we will be able to get more info soon!

  23. Monika says:

    This exactly mean that I can work as a Waitress in Cairns and I will get second years of my working and holiday visa? Do I understand right?
    Thank so much for an answer.

  24. Tammy Angel says:


    I am an employer in Cairns ( and trying to find out if these changes have taken place. I run an accommodation business for working travelers and I would love to be able to update them on these changes. I also want to employ backpackers for 3-6 month contracts but need to know where to go for advice to make sure we can help them get their 2nd visa. So far been on hold for an hour to the Department of Immigration and just can’t see anything updated. Thanks

  25. Monica says:

    I am so confused. I have. 417 visa and ive worked in the Hospitality industry for six months in a regional area in Hospitality. Does this mean it counts as my regional work? Or is that just for 462 subclass visas. If someone can help me out that would be great.

  26. David says:

    Hi, i hav 462 visa, n i b confirm having 2nd visa if i meet all the demand required, is it nw bcum new rule dat pas parliament ady? Do ans me if anyone nos, urgent tq

  27. why The Government will also be giving Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) visa holders the opportunity to access a second 12 month?