On 23 August 2021, the Australian Government announced the Australian Agriculture Worker (AAW) visa program for primary industry sectors including horticulture, meat processing, dairy, wool, grains, fisheries (including aquaculture) and forestry. The program sits within the Subclass 403 (Temporary Work (International Relations)) (Subclass 403) visa as the AAW stream.
What is the criteria?
The key criteria for the Subclass 403 visa in the AAW stream is as follows:
- the applicant genuinely intends to stay temporarily in Australia;
- the applicant has adequate means / access to adequate means to support himself;
- the applicant is participating, as a worker, in the Australian Agriculture Worker Program (AAWP) administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
- an approved sponsor has agreed to be the sponsor of the applicant and the sponsor is (a) a temporary activities sponsor and (b) participating, as an employer, in the AAWP administered by DFAT
- the sponsor has not withdrawn / ceased to be the sponsor of the applicant
- there is no adverse information about the sponsor or a persona associated with the sponsor (or it is reasonable to disregard the adverse information).
An applicant must also generally be outside of Australia at application and decision unless they already hold a Subclass 403 visa in the AAW stream.
What are the target sectors?
The new stream is available to sponsored applicants who wish to participate in the AAWP and will provide entry to workers for the primary industry sectors, including:
- meat processing
- fisheries and
DFAT will manage the AAWP and will negotiate bilateral agreements with foreign governments for the program. Only visa applicants from countries that are a party to an AAWP agreement may participate in this program. As with the Seasonal Worker Program and the Pacific Labour Scheme streams, employers participating in the AAWP will be required to have completed the accreditation process approved by DAFT and to be a temporary activities sponsor.
The Australia – United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (AUKFTA) is the first bilateral agreement that includes AAWP arrangements. Under this agreement UK Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa holders will no longer be required to carry our specified work including agricultural work to be eligible for second and third Australian WHM visas. More countries will be added to the AAWP
once further agreements are negotiated.
How long will the visas be valid for?
Visas will be valid for up to 4 years with multiple entries and defined annual maximum stays of 7 (Condition 8575) or 10 (Condition 8576) months in any 12 month period. The distinction between the two stay periods has not yet been announced.
The Government is consulting with industry on the design of the Australian Agriculture Worker visa program to ensure that the visa arrangement is fit-for-purpose and meets industry needs.
We will post further information in relation to this visa program once additional information is released by the Australian government.