13 February 2012

Changes to Australian Working Holiday Visa would boost economy

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The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has claimed that relaxing application and extension restrictions on the Working Holiday Visa would provide an extra AU$700 million (£476 million) to the Australian economy.

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ATEC claims allowing more people to qualify for an extension on their working holiday visas would be good for the economy.

Currently, the Australian Working Holiday Visa (WHV) programme allows holders to extend their visa for a second year if they complete 88 days in a regional industry such as agriculture, mining and construction.

However, ATEC Managing Director Felicia Mariani claims that of the 162,000 WHVs granted on average each year, just 22,000 choose to travel to regional areas to secure work in one of the eligible industries.

Ms Mariani claims this leaves 140,000 migrant workers who could further contribute to the Australian economy.

"ATEC has been strongly advocating for the extension of the regional classification to the tourism industry, allowing Working Holiday Visa holders to extend their visa by 12 months after completing 88 days of work in a regional industry," said Ms Mariani.

"This measure alone is expected to deliver over AU$28 million [£19 million] annually in additional GDP."

ATEC intends to present the Australian government with a proposal to relax the restrictions on the WHV programme. The relaxations hope to both allow more people to extend their stays and more people to apply for an Australia visa through the programme.

The proposed changes include allowing 88 days work in the tourism and hospitality industries to count towards a 12 month visa extension, keeping application costs constant, increasing the age limit from 30 to 35 and allowing multiple applications.

According to ATEC, these changes would give an annual rise of AU$85 million (£58 million) in GDP with the economy receiving an extra AU$700 million (£476 million) over a 10 year period.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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