Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson have met to finalise details on an in-principle free trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom.
Working visa age lifted to 35 years
Working visas will be boosted to three years and the age limit for the visas lifted from 30 to 35 years.
Australia dropped a condition that a British citizen on a 12-month working visa could extend that for another 12 months if they spent 88 days working in an agricultural industry.
Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson announced a free trade deal on Tuesday 15th of June 2021 that will remove the seasonal work obligation for UK citizens on 12-month working holiday visas. Previously, if Britons wished to stay in Australia for an additional year, they had to do 88 days of farm labour.. The age limit for the working holiday visa is currently 30 years, but will be raised to 35 years for Britons (as it is already for Canadian and Irish citizens). Both Australians and Britons will have the chance to live and work in each other’s country for a total of 3 years. These changes will go into effect in mid-2022. However, there was no mention as to exactly when the international border will open. Borders were supposed to re-open on 17 June 2021, but the Government extended the biosecurity emergency period (in effect since 18 March 2020) until 17 September.
"As the United Kingdom moves into a completely new generation of their trading relationships with the world, who better to start that journey with than Australia?" Mr Morrison said.
"It will be easier for British people, for young people to go and work in Australia, without having the traditional compulsion of having to go and work on a farm,” Mr Johnson said.
“People can go and work much more easily in Australia, both ways, there’ll be free exchange of British rent-a-poms, and indeed Australian campaign managers to come and work in this country."
This announcement comes at a time when the agriculture industry is struggling to attract workers. The sector heavily relied on working holiday visa holders before the Covid-19 prevented working holidaymakers from entering the country. Previously, up to 70% of the agriculture workforce came from overseas and this included up to 10,000 British backpackers.
Long-time call for ag-specific visa
The visa will no doubt be welcomed by the agriculture sector, which was calling for an agriculture-specific visa long before COVID-19 closed Australia's borders.
But farmers were seeking access to more workers from around the world, beyond the UK.
A new agriculture-specific visa will be established between Australia and the United Kingdom, allowing people to work on farms in either country.
On the same day, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced a separate scheme to allow citizens from 10 ASEAN countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia) to fill the expected labour shortage. This temporary visa will be called the Agriculture Visa. According to ABC News, there will be no age restrictions on the visa. But it remains unclear as to how long the Ag visa will be valid for or when the Ag visa will come into effect.
There has been no mention of whether proof of vaccination will be required for entrants under either scheme.
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