14 November 2012

Australia work and holiday visa discussions begin with six countries

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Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has confirmed his department has entered into discussions with the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia aimed at initiating a reciprocal work and holiday visa deal with each.

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Six more countries are to be added to the work and holiday visa program.

The work and holiday visa program, like the Australian working holiday visa program which the UK and Ireland are a part of, allows citizens of partner countries aged between 18 and 30 to live and work in Australia for up to 12 months.

Mr Bowen says the establishment of such an agreement is seen as a measure of Australia's international relations.

"The start of discussions for these work and holiday arrangements recognises the value of Australia's evolving bilateral relationships with these countries and will strengthen our cultural and people-to-people links," said the minister.

The work and holiday visa program is already open to citizens of nine countries with the working holiday visa program open to a further 19. However, the minister's announcement confirms Australia's intention to expand both programs, a move which is proving popular.

Greece entered negotiations to become the 20th country to be a part of the working holiday program in August and in September, a group of young Icelanders petitioned their government to request access to the program.

While both visa options offer the chance for people to quickly and easily enter Australia, Mr Bowen was quick to stress the importance of due process in finalising such deals.

"Negotiating work and holiday arrangements, which must be reciprocal and agreeable to both partner governments, can take some time to finalise and implement.

"We must ensure all key stakeholders are consulted and necessary administrative processes are in place."

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

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