Changes to the second year working visa! What you need to know.

Updated: September 2019

The rules, they are a-changin’ – Bob Dylan. Sort of.

Are you thinking about a working holiday in Australia? Perhaps you’re already here, and are looking to extend your stay into a second or third year.

Looking for 2nd year visa jobs? View our latest here.

If so, it’s time to listen up, because 2019 has seen the most significant changes to the Australian working holiday visa program (visa subclasses 417 and 462) in quite some time.

The last major changes to Australian working holiday visas came in 2015, when the eligibility process was made more strict. Prior to that point a 417 visa holder could simply volunteer or WWOOF in a regional area for three months in order to access a second year visa. The 2015 rule changes made things more official, requiring the submission of payslips, meaning only ‘legitimate’ work would count. Hustling for food and board was no longer permitted, which, while a bummer for some, increased the level of safety and security for backpackers, because questionable employers could no longer pressure vulnerable folk into unpaid work.

Likewise, the new changes seek to improve the second year visa situation for both employer and employee alike.

What are these changes, and how might they affect you? Let’s take a look.

The 2019 Visa Changes

Access to a 3rd year visa

This is perhaps the most significant change, particularly for those who don’t want to go home any time soon. Prior to July 2019 you could only extend your visa into a second year, working in regional Australia for three months in order to do so. But as of July 2019 the option for a third year visa extension has been made available. To access this extension a 417 or 462 visa holder must complete six months of work in regional Australia under the same conditions that apply to the second year extension. So, if you’re willing to put in the work, you could be enjoying the land down under for another entire year!

Note that applicable work must be undertaken after the 1st of July 2019, so the earliest an application could possibly be lodged is the 1st of January 2020.

A wider range of locations available to 462 visa holders

Until now 462 visa holders who did regional work in order to obtain their second year visa were restricted to certain areas of Northern Australia. But these workers are now eligible to take up positions in a far wider range of locations, spread right across the country. The new locations include certain parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, and anywhere in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

An increased age limit of 35

The Australian government has announced it is planning on increasing the age limit for working holiday makers from 30 to 35. This proposal has thus far only been accepted by Canada, Ireland and France however, so other nationalities will have to wait for their governments to ratify the proposal before they can apply at the older age.

New countries, greater intakes

As of 2019 Greek and Ecuadorian nationals are now permitted to apply for the 462 visa, although the requirements are relatively strict – you’ll need to have completed two years of undergrad university studies, will be asked to provide evidence of functional English, and will need to provide a letter of support from your government.

The annual intake cap has been increased for Spain, Israel and Peru, allowing even more young people to experience a working holiday in Australia.

Applicants from Spain, Portugal and Austria also no longer need a governmental letter of support included in their application.

The opportunity to stay with your employer

This change was actually introduced at the end of 2018. Where 417 and 462 visa holders were previously only permitted to stay with their regional employer for a period of six months, they can now remain with the employer for 12 months. If you’ve got a good boss, there’s now no need for a teary goodbye (for another six months at least!).

Who is eligible for a second and third year visa extension?

So what does eligibility for a second and third year extension now look like? The following criteria must be met if you are to extend your stay:

  • You must be a 417 or 462 visa holder.
  • You must have completed 3 months of specified work during your first year to be granted a second year extension, and six months of specified work during your second year to be granted a third year extension. You can find 2nd and 3rd year visa jobs here.
  • You need to be within the age bracket of 18 – 30 years (18 – 35 for Canadian, Irish and French nationals, but more nationalities may follow).
  • You must not have dependants travelling with you.
  • You must not have already been in Australia on a work and holiday visa (subclass 462)
  • You must have a current passport from an eligible country.

What constitutes ‘specified work’ for a visa extension?

The Department of Home Affairs requires working holiday makers to perform what they call ‘specified work’ in order to extend their stay. Happily this encompasses a rather broad scope of work, including:

  • Plant and animal cultivation
  • Fishing and pearling
  • Tree farming and felling
  • Mining
  • Construction

You can check out the complete list of applicable work within each category on the Department of Home Affairs website. No matter your skill set or interests, you should be able to find something that talks to you – or at the very least makes for a good story!

How do I apply?

Oddly for a bureaucratic process, applying for a working holiday visa, whether first, second or third year, is really quite easy! Use this portal for 417 visas, and this portal for 462 visas.

Unsure which visa applies to you? It will depend on your nationality – the visas are otherwise almost identical – and a list of eligible countries can be found here.

It should be noted that none of these changes are retrospective, and only apply to the 417 and 462 visas moving forward. If you’re already into your second year, nothing changes for you (until you perhaps apply for a third!).

It’s also wise to keep an eye on the Department of Home Affairs website for the latest changes.

While we at Backpacker Job Board do all that we can to give you the latest information, they’re the ones who actually write the rules, so it’s worth a check from time to time to see if they’ve flicked any levers or adjusted any knobs.

Bureaucracy and red tape aside, these changes are overwhelmingly good, because they allow more people to stay in Australia for longer!

So, are you ready to make the most of the changes? Comment with your plans below!

2nd Year Visa FAQs

What is a 2nd year visa?

The second year Australian working holiday visa is an optional extension of the first year visa for subclasses 417 and 462. Visa holders are eligible to apply for a second year if they have completed three months of applicable work during the first.

How long does it take for second year visa to be approved?

According to current data from the Department of Home Affairs, 75% of second year 417 visa applications are processed within 9 days and 90% are processed within 18 days. The turnaround time for second year 462 visa applications is slightly longer – 75% are processed within 21 days and 90% are processed within 24 days.

Can you apply for working holiday visa twice?

The only way you can apply for a working holiday visa twice is if you apply for a second or third year visa extension. A dual passport holder cannot apply for a 462 visa after accessing a 417 visa and vice versa. And if your application has been denied, applying again won’t change the fact that you do not meet the visa requirements.

How do I get my second year visa for Australia?

You must meet the work requirements listed above within your first year, then complete a visa extension application through the Department of Home Affairs website.

What is the difference between 417 and 462 visa?

The main difference is the countries to which they apply. Whether you apply for the 417 and 462 visa will depend on the passport you hold – a list of nationalities for each visa can be found here. There are a few other differences between the visas, but they are rather minor.

Does au pair work count for 2nd year visa?

As indicated on the list of specified work for both the 417 visa and the 462 visa, au pairing or nannying does not count as eligible work for a visa extension, even if it is in a regional location.

Can you get a working visa over 30?

If you’re Canadian, French or Irish, yes! While the Australian government has announced that it wants to increase the age limit for the 417 and 462 visas to 35, it takes two to tango. Only Canada, France and Ireland have ratified this proposal, and it remains to be seen if other countries follow suit.

Can you have two working visas at the same time?

No, you cannot hold more than one visa at the same time, nor can you hold either the 417 or 462 visa if you have previously held the other.

Can you work for more than 6 months on a working holiday visa?

You most certainly can, but the Department of Home Affairs prefers that you avoid remaining with a single employer for a period longer than six months.

Can I work in Australia for 6 months with the same employer?

If you want to stay with the same employer for more than six months, you’ll need to apply for permission. You can learn about gaining permission here.

How many hours can you work on a working holiday visa Australia?

417 and 462 visa holders are approved for full time work just as any adult Australian citizen is, meaning they can work as many hours as they choose. The standard Australian working week is 38 hours, so your employer isn’t allowed to force you to work more than that, although you’re welcome to do so if you choose.

How long can you work on a working holiday visa in Australia?

417 and 462 visas are approved in yearly instalments – first year, second year extension and third year extension – and a visa holder can work as much as they choose within those timeframes. The only restriction is staying with the same employer for a period greater than six months, which will require special permission to be granted by the Department of Home Affairs.

Do I need $5,000 dollars to enter Australia on a working holiday visa?

The Australian government wants to know that you have enough savings to support yourself through your trip, so during the visa application process you’ll need to prove that you have $5000 – what they deem to be a ‘sufficient amount’ of savings – at your disposal.

How many hours can you work on a working holiday visa?

As above, 417 and 462 visa holders can work as many hours as they like, although employers can’t force them to work more than 38 hours per week.

Can a tourist visa be changed to a working holiday visa in Australia?

A tourist visa cannot be converted into a 417 or 462 visa. In order to obtain a working holiday visa you will have to create a new application, which, due to the documentation you’ll need to provide, can be difficult if you’re not in your home country at the time.

Can I look for a job in Australia with a tourist visa?

You can look as much as you want, but you won’t be able to work! You can only work in Australia if you hold an eligible visa (such as visa subclasses 417 or 462), so there’s really no point in looking until you are approved for one of these.

What happens if you get caught working illegally in Australia?

In short, bad things happen if you’re caught working illegally in Australia. One or more of the following punishments might be applied:

  • Your visa is revoked.
  • You are forced to leave Australia.
  • You are fined up to $10,000.
  • You are placed in an immigration detention centre until arrangements have been made to deport you.

Is it worth it? Not particularly. It pays to play by the rules.

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