20 February 2013

Government reportedly mulling expanding Australian Working Holiday Visa program

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Reports from within the Australian government hint at the possible expansion of the Working Holiday Visa program. More industries could become eligible for holders to obtain a second year visa and the current age limit increased.

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Initial reports predict expanding the Australian Working Holiday Visa program could add AU$700 million to the country's economy.

The Australian Working Holiday Visa program is one of the most popular of its kind in the world, allowing young passport holders from almost 30 countries - including the UK and Ireland - to live and work in Australia for 12 months.

The Australian government expanded the program in the last decade in a shrewd move to benefit both the backpacking visa holders and the country's economy; working holiday visa holders who complete three months of specified work in regional Australia, they can stay another year.

This work is typically in the agricultural industry in regions of Australia which don't usually benefit from tourism revenue.

However, in an effort to convince even more working holiday visa holders to remain in Australia a second year, Tourism Australia has reportedly convinced Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson to allow tourism and hospitality jobs - in regional Australia - to qualify visa holders for their second year.

Should the tourism industry be added to the eligibility rules - and the current age limit of 30 increased - initial studies predict an extra AU$700 million (£470 million) would be added to the Australian economy.

Tourism Australia is due to launch a new campaign in the next month in line with their aim of doubling the size of the Australian tourism industry - already the country's second largest industry - by 2020. Despite the obvious benefits to the country's economy, the increase in size is predicted to result in 56,000 job shortages - a shortage backpackers would be more than willing to fill.

"[Working Holiday Visa holders] make beds, hose, sweep and do the thousand and one jobs that young Aussies don't want to do," said Don Morris of Hamilton Island, Australia's biggest resort.

"These working holidaymakers are reliable, educated and smart. They work hard, play hard, spend big money and travel all over.

"The more we can do to get them to come here, and stay longer, the better."

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

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