It's all about the Benjamins
The Australian government announced this week its intention to increase visa prices almost across the board - including the Working Holiday Visa!
As of 1, January, 2013, the cost of processing a working holiday visa will increase from AU$280 (£180) to AU$360 (£232). The increase in price might not be as significant or severe as certain other visa streams (almost AU$1,000 for partner visas!) but nevertheless, price hikes are rarely welcome.
Why is the Australian government being so mean?
One of the keys to Australia's success has been its budgeting. While the UK and the rest of the world rode the boom time waves high, throwing money around at free services for all and turning the NHS into a labyrinth of bureaucracy, Australia played it cool.
During the boom times, most economies - the US, the UK and the majority of Europe - ran deficit budgets; Australia ran surpluses. So, now that the bubble has burst and most countries are left trying to balance gossamer budgets with a sledgehammer, Australia is in a much comfier position.
Comfier doesn't mean easy though, and Australia did in fact run a deficit of AU$55 billion in last year's budget but, with even more economic uncertainty looming, Australia wants to return to a winning formula again and plans to return to a AU$1 billion surplus this year.
In order to do this, among other things, they've increased Australia visa costs.
"We were gonna give Australia
our money anyway, but in
exchange for beer and other
What have you got to say about that then?
Well, as you might expect, there has been outrage and uproar, welcome and thanking, all in equal measures, but not necessarily all from where you might expect.
Transport and Tourism Forum chief executive John Lee said the price will deter backpackers from visiting Australia.
"It's wrong to assume people will keep coming [to Australia] regardless of cost - instead of coming to Australia as a working holidaymaker they will go somewhere else."
Maurene Horder, CEO of the Migration Institute of Australia, says it's 'pretty lazy and pretty greedy' to increase costs:
"The fact you can get away with charging a bit more doesn't it is reasonable or fair that you have to do it."
Acting Immigration Minister Kate Lundy says Australia's popularity is such that a price increase will not deter people from coming:
"The government has made a targeted increase in the cost of visas where there are high levels of demand, and therefore areas that are less likely to be significantly impacted by the added costs."
For the extra cost of one night out
you can get to do this.
It's not that bad
The price increase really isn't all that bad, and that seems to be the attitude reflected in both Australian businesses that rely on backpackers and the backpackers themselves.
Carl Walker of the Bowen Gumlu District Growers Association in north Queensland says backpackers account for up to 80% of the workforce and earn a very healthy wage.
"A lot of the pickers are earning now anything from AU$20 [£13] to AU$50 [£32] per hour there on contract, the ones that get in and work hard," said Mr Walker.
"I don't think that 80 bucks is going to change their view on Australia because Australia has got a damn good reputation amongst the backpackers for a great place to come."
"I think I would pay it," said one friend on our Facebook page. "I have enjoyed my nine months so far and still have three more to go. Australia is amazing and you learn so much about yourself by taking a year off from normal life.
"It’s worth every penny. Not many people can say they have done this. Just go for it! :-) Happiest time of my life!"
They're not in the minority either, with another friend claiming it's 'worth every penny and more!' as '£50 or $80 is a night out back home'.
Is it still worth it?
The short answer is, of course it is!
Can I get round it?
Yes! The price increase does not come into effect until the New Year, so you’ve still got plenty of time to get your visa under the current price.
Since the terms of any working holiday visa state that you have a whole year after your visa is granted to enter Australia to make your first entry into the country and ‘activate’ it, that means even if you were to apply and be granted your visa now, you’d have until October 2013 to enter Australia and then you’d be able to stay out there until October 2014!
Therefore, even if you don’t intend to set off on your year out Down Under until 2013, we advise that you get your visa sorted out now so you can save yourself some money and still have loads of time to get things sorted.
Click Here to Apply Online for Your Australian Working Holiday Visa Now!
- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013