The work and holiday visa programme allowing young people to travel, work and study in Australia has been expanded to allow more young people from various countries to participate.

The arrangements are now in place for young people in Spain, Peru, Chile and Israel. The Australian Government hopes that the increase in the number of visas will encourage them to work in regional areas where there are shortages of workers, particularly in agriculture which traditionally employs a lot of young people from overseas.

Agricultural Worker

(NejroN Photo/​

While on their first visa, working holiday makers can undertake specified work in regional areas to become eligible for a second visa and therefore extend their stay. From July 2019, the option of a third year stay will also be available to them if they undertake six months of regional work in their second year in Australia.

The work and holiday visa requires first time applicants to hold or be studying towards tertiary qualifications and to speak a functional level of English and the programme is likely to be extended further as the Government is currently in discussions with a number of other countries for a cap increase.

The number of places available to Spanish nationals under the Work and Holiday Maker programme has been increased from 1,500 per year to 3,400 while for Israeli nationals has risen from 500 to 2,500. For Peru the numbers have been increased from 100 to 1,500 and for Chile from 2,000 to 3,400.

'These additional places will allow thousands more young people each year to enjoy a 12-month holiday in Australia, during which they may undertake short term work and study,' said Immigration Minister David Coleman.

'This arrangement will provide additional support to regional Australia by encouraging more workers to the areas that need them. The increase to places will provide regional areas and farmers with access to more workers,' he explained.

Meanwhile, applications for the new temporary Sponsored Parent visa will open on 17 April 2019. The Sponsored Parent (Temporary) subclass 870 visa provides parents and grandparents with a new pathway to reunite and spend time together through having the opportunity to visit Australia for a continuous period of up to five years.

There is also the opportunity to apply for a second visa for another five years after a short period outside Australia, meaning parents and grandparents will be able to spend up to 10 years in Australia.

Up to 15,000 visas may be granted each year and measures have been put in place to strengthen the visa framework, and require Australian sponsors to act as a financial guarantor for any outstanding public health costs incurred by the visa holder whilst in Australia, including hospital and aged care fees. Coleman pointed out that this ensures taxpayers are not required to cover additional costs.

Also coming up is the introduction special visa arrangements for aged care providers to hire overseas workers with specialised skills that will support older Australians from multicultural backgrounds.

These will allow aged care facilities to access a personalised visa arrangement to hire employees with the skills to cater for the needs of their communities' elderly and deliver specialised services that better understand a residents' cultural needs.

The company-specific labour agreement enables aged care providers to access overseas workers where they previously have been unable to, as the required occupation is not on the list of eligible skilled occupations.