UK – Australia Free Trade Agreement & Working Holiday Visa Update

British Backpackers Won't Have To Do 88 Days of Farm Work In Australia

A historic free trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom is set to be in place by the end of the month following years of negotiations. The deal, which relaxes trade and visa arrangements between the two countries, was agreed more than a year ago.

Now having worked its way through both the Australian and British parliaments, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says it will take effect within weeks.

LATEST UPDATE: Latest Working Holiday (subclass 417) Visa Arrangements for UK Passport Holders​

Updated 8 May 2023: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is being accused of unfairly raising the hopes of young Australians and Brits by falsely claiming new visa arrangements would come into effect at the end of the month. (smh.com.au)

Updated 6 May 2023: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, during his current visit to London for the coronation of King Charles, says the FTA will be in place by May 31 (www.abc.net.au).

Updated 24 Mar 2023: The Australian Government welcomes the announcement that Royal Assent has been given to legislation to bring the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement into effect in the UK. We expect the age limit to be increased shortly. (trademinister.gov.au)

Updated 6 December 2022: Lord Ian Botham is currently visiting Australia to boost the Free Trade agreement. During the UK Trade Envoy’s week-long programme in Australia, he will focus on opportunities from the free trade agreement, the green industrial revolution and defence collaboration. Hopefully, this will accelerate the process and the agreement will soon enter into force.

Giving UK backpackers the choice of Bondi or the ‘back of Bourke’

Why do the under-30s get to have all the fun? Upcoming changes to Australian Working Holiday visa for Brits means this is no longer the case.

Under the historic deal that is the first negotiated by Britain from scratch since leaving the European Union, young people will be able to move more freely between the two countries, allowing more young Brits to experience living in Australia under Working Holiday Visa.

British backpackers have been an important part of the Australian agricultural labour market but the new free trade deal will change that
British backpackers have been an important part of the Australian agricultural labour market but the new free trade deal will change that

Age Limit increased to 35 years for British citizens

Brits under 35 will be able to travel and work in Australia more freely in the new trade deal.

Mr Johnson said the agreement opens ‘fantastic opportunities’ for young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.

Mr Johnson said the agreement opens ‘fantastic opportunities’ for young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison outside 10 Downing Street, in London. AP

Boris Johnson has agreed the broad terms of a free trade deal with Australia, the first negotiated from scratch since Brexit.

No more Farm Work

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the experience was shared by thousands of Brits each year who worked on farms to extend their 417 visas, and has brought joy, built lasting friendships, and provided many travellers with memories to last a lifetime.

However, others have found living and doing farm work abroad Down Under to be memorable for the wrong reasons, with some saying they experienced ‘slavery’ and even sexual assault while working in the Outback.

And Downing Street said Britons under the age of 35 will be able to travel and work in Australia more freely – suggesting the farm work requirement on working holiday visas could be scrapped.

British Backpackers will no longer have to do farm work in Australia
If you were a young, single overseas backpacker and you had the choice of working in a bar in Bondi or the “back of Bourke”, which one would you pick?

Currently, the backpacker visa allows young people to visit Australia for a year. If they don’t want to head home, they can elect to work for three months in a regional area. This will allow them to gain a second-year visa.

This desire to stay in the sun has been useful for regional areas, which have for decades seen declining populations. It has meant that many travellers, including UK citizens, were forced to consider a stint in the bush if they wanted to stay.

We know many backpackers who were reluctant to go to the regions at first, but afterwards thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If they hadn’t been obligated to go, they might not have.

The new UK-Australia trade agreement, signed under the Morrison government, removed that requirement as a sweetener for the British government. As a result, when it comes into force, estimated in 2024, British backpackers can arrive in Bondi and stay for three years.

Mr Johnson and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, announced the agreement on Tuesday despite concerns from farmers on both sides over the deal.

3 Year Visa

This new deal will also allow Britons under the age of 35 to extend their work holiday visas for up to 3 years without having to do back-breaking work on Australian farms or building sites.

British backpackers under the age of 35 can extend their work holiday visas for up to 3 years without having to do back-breaking work on Australian farms or building sites
British backpackers under the age of 35 can extend their work holiday visas for up to 3 years without having to do back-breaking work on Australian farms or building sites.

While this has been agreed ‘in-principle’ the deal will still need both governments to formally tick everything off and confirm.

We’ll update you on the details of the Visa changes as and when we get them. Once the new agreement gets the rubber stamps in both the UK and Australia’s houses of parliament.

In the meantime,  you can start by researching the requirements and cost of the Working Holiday Visa here.

Updated 6 December 2022: Lord Ian Botham is currently visiting Australia to boost the Free Trade agreement. During the UK Trade Envoy’s week-long programme in Australia, he will focus on opportunities from free trade agreement, green industrial revolution and defence collaboration. Hopefully this will accelerate the process and the agreement will soon enter into force.

Commencement of the agreement

Currently, the Australia-UK FTA has not yet entered into force. Yet, the new arrangements will start for WHMs within two years. The new arrangements will apply to all Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa applications for UK passport holders lodged from the date of implementation.

For more information, please visit this website Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

How this agreement affects on the previous visa holders

To understand how the current and future Working Holiday Visa (WHV) makers will be affected by the agreement, let’s examine some scenarios from the immigration website.

If an applicant is unable to apply due to the age limit

If an applicant is unable to apply due to the age limit, such as Amanda who came to Australia on her first WHV in 2015 and is now 32 years old, she cannot apply for another WHV since the age limit is 30 years. However, with the new arrangements, Amanda will be able to apply for a second and third visa until the age of 35 years, regardless of any work requirements.

If you had to leave Australia because of the pandemic

For Bridget, who was on her first WHV when COVID-19 travel restrictions began in March 2020, she had to return to the UK without completing any specified work. Her visa ceased before December 31, 2021. With the new arrangements, she will be able to apply for a second and third visa, in addition to the offshore nil VAC visa, without meeting any specified work requirements.

If you came to Australia in the past without completing specific work requirements

If someone like Doug had a first WHV in Australia in 2017 but did not complete the specified work requirements and wants to apply for another WHV before the new arrangements start, they will have to meet the specified work requirements. However, when the new arrangements commence, Doug will be able to apply for a second and third WHV until the age of 35 years without having to meet any specified work requirements. He can apply from in or outside Australia.

Other changes included in the Free Trade agreement

The Free Trade agreement also includes other changes such as the Australian government removing tariffs on a range of British goods like whisky, pharmaceuticals, cars, machinery, and tractors. Britain will also have greater access to Australian markets for services. In return, Britain will liberalize Australian imports of beef, sheep meat, and sugar, increasing their tariff-free threshold and tapering tariffs over time. Additionally, the agreement means that professional qualifications obtained in one country will be recognized in the other.

WorkingHolidayGuide knows that one of the elements of a successful working holiday is to find local, seasonal employment to use as a means to fund your travels around the country. We also know that only certain businesses and industries will even consider hiring a traveller. We develop and maintain partnerships with hundreds of local businesses that do hire travellers, so you can save yourself time, money and stress with our Australia Gap Year Packages to make your working holiday the best experience it can be.

If you’re heading to Sydney or Melbourne, check out these below working holiday intro tours:

Sydney Gap Year

Melbourne Gap Year

Completely immerse yourself in a new culture, and meet lifelong friends as you work and travel Australia. Best of all, you’ll break away from your usual routine back home and have endless adventures. With the freedom to travel as far and wide as you want between jobs, these trips are perfect for those who dream of being more than the average tourist and adventure for longer.

Also read: Eligible Jobs For A Second And Third Year Visa Subclass 417 in Australia

Also read: Eligible Jobs For A Second And Third Year Visa Subclass 462 in Australia

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