20 August 2012

Australia set for working holiday visa negotiations with Greece

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said the federal government are looking to begin negotiating a deal with Greece which would allow young Greeks to live and work in Australia for a year on a working holiday visa.

Australia visa

Greece is set to join the work and holiday visa program.

The work and holiday visa program allows the holder to live and work in Australia for 12 months. The program is currently open to citizens aged between 18 and 30 from nine countries.

A similar program, the working holiday visa, is open to a further 19 countries, including the UK, and Greece's close neighbour Cyprus.

The Australian government would like to allow Greeks to access the working holiday program.

“A work and holiday arrangement recognizes the strength of these connections and will further enhance our cultural links between the two countries,” said Mr Bowen.

The Greek economy is currently in dire straits with unemployment levels approaching one in four and young Greeks are likely to welcome the chance to escape the spiralling situation. And with the booming Australian economy lying in stark contrast, few are likely to look elsewhere with such abundant opportunity on offer and such an easy route in.

Australia may be experiencing levels of growth most Western nations would envy but success does not come without its downsides; current levels of growth outstrip labour market predictions and the country will require more workers in the future to maintain levels.

Other visa arrangements have been to allow foreign labour to be used in mining and construction projects but the prospect of more foreign staff working in hospitality and tourism positions, typically the industries working holiday makers seek work in, will be a welcome one.

However, Mr Bowen said the deal would not be quick and urged all involved to be patient.

"Negotiating a work and holiday arrangement, which must be reciprocal and agreeable to both governments, can take time to finalize and implement.

“While we recognize the level of enthusiasm by both Greeks and Australians around a successful outcome, we must ensure all key stakeholders are consulted and the necessary administrative arrangements 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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