On 31 May 2023, the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) was entered into force, bringing forth significant changes to Australia’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program.  This agreement introduces new arrangements that broaden the age limit for eligibility and removes the specified work requirements for UK passport holders.

Working Holiday visa arrangements commencing on 1 July 2023

Expanding the age range of eligibility
Currently, UK passport holders who are interested in applying for a Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa must be between the ages of 18 and 30, inclusive.

From 1 July 2023, the upper age limit will be extended to 35 years.  This means that UK passport holders will have the opportunity to apply for a Working Holiday visa right up until the day before they reach the age of 36.

Working Holiday visa arrangements commencing on 1 July 2024

Eliminating the requirement for ‘specified work’
Currently, in order to qualify for a second or third Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa, applicants are required to demonstrate a minimum of three or six months of ‘specified work’ experience.

From 1 July 2024, UK passport holders will no longer be required to meet this requirement when applying for a second or third Working Holiday visa.  This change will apply to all applications made on or after that date.

Maximum stay of three years
Currently, Working Holiday visa holders can spend up to three years in Australia, which is divided into three separate visas, each valid for 12 months.

From 1 July 2024, UK passport holders who meet the age requirement can apply for a first, second, or third Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) at any time.  They are not required to stay in Australia for three consecutive years.  Additionally, applicants can submit their applications for the second and third Working Holiday visas (subclass 417) from either inside or outside of Australia.

For UK passport holders who have already completed one or two years on a Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa in Australia before the new arrangements come into effect, there is good news.  They can apply for the remaining visa(s) under the new arrangements starting from 1 July 2024.  This will allow them to continue their stay in Australia for a total of three years.

Six-month work limitation

As a reminder, the 6-month work limitation (condition 8547) will reimpose from 1 July 2023.  That is, Working Holiday visa holders (including UK passport holders) will only be permitted to work with any one employer for the duration of their visa without requirement for permission.  Fortunately, any work that is carried out before 1 July 2023 will not be counted towards the 6-month work limitation period.

In addressing labour shortages, the Australian Government has identified certain circumstances where Working Holiday visa holders are permitted to work longer than 6 months with one employer without needing to request it, these include:

  • Work in certain high-demand industries in Northern Australia only
    This measure was introduced under the Australian Government’s 2015 White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
  • Work in different locations, where work in any one location does not exceed six months
    This measure was announced by the Treasurer in September 2016, with the introduction of more flexible arrangements to support WHMs and industry.
  • Plant and animal cultivation work anywhere in Australia
    This was part of a package of measures announced in November 2018 to support regional and rural economies.

For more detailed information on “different locations”, “northern Australia” and eligible industries and occupations, refer to the Department’s website

Final thoughts

It is worth noting that new arrangements also exist for Australian passport holders applying for the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS).  They too will enjoy benefits such as an extended age range and the ability to stay in the UK for up to three years.

From 31 January 2024, Australian passport holders will be able to apply for a YMS visa if they are between the ages of 18 and 35 inclusive, a notable increase from the previous age limit of 30 years.

In addition, Australian passport holders will also have the option to extend their YMS visa for an additional year, allowing them to stay for up to three years if they choose to do so.

The introduction of these new arrangements offers Australian and UK citizens increased opportunities and greater flexibility to work and travel in each other’s countries.  Moreover, these changes will yield substantial benefits, not only to Australian and UK passport holders but also to the economies of both nations.

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