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

Updated: Monday, 21st September 2015

So the biggest news to hit the backpacking world in Australia at the moment, are the new rules put in place for travellers to gain their second year working visa.


Before, if you wanted to apply for a second year working visa in this country, you had to accumulate 88 days (or three months) of ‘work’ in regional area of Australia. Either paid, or as a volunteer. Not a bad idea and it seemed to work well. You help them, they help you etc. etc. and everyone gets what they need.

However, as of August 31st 2015, the new guidelines state that those applying for a 2nd working holiday visa (subclass 417) MUST submit official payslips from their employers, proving they have completed their allocated time in regional work. Which rules out any volunteering or WWOOFing work as you are not considered an official employee in these situations. This is a real bummer for those who enjoy receiving food and board for their labour on farms around Australia, and also for all those farms that require manpower to survive, and have a great relationship with the business of trading a workers time for accommodation.

On a personal level, don’t think of this as a complete kick in the pants. The government is actually trying to do some good by eradicating those forms of volunteer employment, undertaken by travelers, where the conditions may not be acceptable to secure another visa. Basically making sure you don’t get used in the process.

Having you paid for your time, is aiming to keep some costs down of the financial requirement of the visa, allow travellers to apply multiple times (depending on your age), pushing the qualifying age up to 35 and improving the governments relationship wit the tourism industry. All of these changes will be phased in over time.

Well I’m afraid it’s true, and it’s likely to affect you. So read on and gain some straightforward info so you can then make the right choices to be able to stay that extra year in this fabulous country. We want you here, so why not put your head down and work at it to stick around.

Check out our Second Year WHV Jobs category

Who is eligible for a second year visa extension?

So there are a few things to look out for here –

  • First, you must have completed 3 months seasonal work already on your original working holiday visa.
  • You need to be within the age bracket of 18 – 30 years (subject to change in the future)
  • Have no dependant children traveling with you.
  • Have not already been in Australia on a work and holiday visa (number 462)
  • Have a current passport from an eligible country.

What jobs are eligible for second year visa?

The department of immigration has a detailed list of which ‘Specified Work’ needs to be completed to be eligible for the new second year work visa. These include jobs like plant and animal cultivation, felling trees in plantation forests, fishing and pearling, mining and construction work. Don’t freak out, it’s not JUST these job, but many falling into sub categories under these titles, so you are bound to find something that fits.

What areas are regional?

There are particular areas of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia that comply with the accepted regional areas for working in. But it’s good to note that ALL of the Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia are classified as part of regional Australia. The whole of The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) however, is not. A full list of the areas and postcodes can be found here.

How do I apply?

Now that government websites are catching up with the rest of the world, you can now apply for your second year visa on line! Nice and easy!

But remember, you are going to need to be prepared for this. What office doesn’t love a bit of paper work to get you going?!

You will need to have in your hot little hands-

  • A bank statement, which states the entire timeline of the claim
  • Any travel tickets, accommodation or general receipts with your name on them.
  • Payslips (of course – very important)
  • Any group certificates you’ve received in your time in Australia.
  • Tax returns (assuming you’ve done them!)
  • Any employer references, and these need to be on an official letterhead, not just scribbled on the back of a beer coaster.

After you have applied you may receive a phone call from the department and they’ll want to talk to you personally.

You can also apply with a hard copy paper document filled out and lodge it at the immigration department, but really – on line is much quicker and more efficient.

Do volunteer jobs count? Even if I get a payslip with $0 wage?

Unfortunately the answer to this hot topic is a big, fat, no. Senator the Hon Michalia Cash, who has the fancy title of Assistant Minister for Immigration and Boarder Protection, has announced that volunteer work will no longer be an acceptable form of ‘work’ toward second year holiday visas.

This could be troublesome for those WWOOFers out there who had planned to work for free food and board over the coming months. If BEFORE August 31 2015, you have already completed part of your 3 calendar months volunteering, or WWOOFing to gain your second working visa, you will only need to provide a pay slip from an employer as evidence from August 31st onwards.

The WWOOF website has some great information and will be updated when new news regarding these particular rules and regulations come to light.

Can I apply from overseas?

Yes, but if you apply from outside Australia, you must also be outside of Australia when it is granted. You also need to apply no more than 12 months BEFORE you want to travel the country.

Subsequently if you apply from within Australia, you must still be within Australia when the grant is given.

If you would like to travel overseas whilst your application is being processed, go for it – BUT you may need to apply for a bridging visa with travel rights to be able to run away for a spell. Best to check with those in the know to be sure so contact the Visa Bureau if you are in the UK or the Australian Embassy in your country.

That’s about it!

Please note that these changes will not impact on any CURRENT visa applications, so you are in the clear if your paper work is already in and your hours are lodged. Nice one!

For the rest of you, it’s important to know what’s going on with changing visa shenanigans, so I hoped we’ve helped! Time to start downloading some forms perhaps?

Good luck, and see you in regional Australia!

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