462 backpacker visa expansion. More Indians, Mexicans set for Aussie workJuly 30th, 2019 | | 462 visa
Backpackers from 13 countries are being targeted by Immigration Minister David Coleman as he seeks to find workers wanted by regional businesses.
- The Government wants to attract more backpackers to work on farms
- Changes to the backpacker visa have been welcomed by farmers but have concerned some academics
- A new TV campaign calls Australia “the best workplace in the world”
The move has won in-principle support from the National Farmers’ Federation, even if it is still demanding a fully fledged agricultural visa.
Australia is in discussions about expanding the work and holiday visa to people from India, Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Switzerland, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Andorra, Monaco and Mongolia.
Any places made available to backpackers from these nations would be in addition to the existing caps for other nations.
About 150,000 people were in Australia on a working holiday visa in March, but the program has actually shrunk over the past five years.
The plans are the latest attempt by the Government to tweak a major — and contentious — part of Australia’s migration program.
Only this month Greece and Ecuador were added to the program, places were increased for some countries, and the option to stay in Australia for a third year was made available to workers.
The Government has also released a series of video advertisements into international markets calling Australia “the best workplace in the world”.
Mr Coleman said the changes were designed to resolve labour shortages in regional areas, in particular on farms.
“We know that working holiday-makers travel further into regional areas than most other international visitors,” he said.
“They also spend substantial amounts, helping to boost regional economies.”
While countries in the uncapped 417 visa scheme are typical backpacker nations, such as Germany and Sweden, the 462 visa (known as “work and holiday”) scheme includes more developing countries.
Mr Coleman countered suggestions that the scheme was becoming a channel for low-skill migrant workers.
“Work and holiday applicants must meet minimum requirements before a visa can be granted, including having a functional level of English and they must hold or be studying towards tertiary qualifications.”
Balancing worker and business interests
Manager of workplace relations at the National Farmers’ Federation, Ben Rogers, said his organisation welcomed any measures “which address the serious issue of farm labour shortages”.
However, he maintained that both changes made so far and the mooted expansion was “far from a perfect solution”.
Countries targeted in expansion:
- Solomon Islands
“While again we welcome these and the other changes which the Government made last year and earlier this year to working visa arrangements for farms, for example changes to the seasonal worker program and skilled migration, we are still waiting for it to follow through on its public statements that it is working towards an ag visa,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year said his Government had not ruled out an agricultural visa.
Sourced by Mike Barrow