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On 1st May 2015 it was announced by the Assistant minister for immigration and border protection that volunteer work will no longer count towards 2nd year visa working holiday extensions.

We can now confirm that the visa changes will be effective from the 31st August 2015. From this date, any unpaid regional work completed will not count towards your 2nd year visa extension.

What do I need to know?

  • From 31st August all specified regional work you do will need to be paid to count towards your 88 days of regional work. You will need to prove this with payslips from your employer when you apply for your 2nd year visa.
  • During your working holiday visa, you can still do volunteer/WWOOF work but you will not be able to count those days towards your application for a 2nd working holiday visa.
  • Any volunteer/WWOOF work completed before the 31st August will still count towards your 2nd year visa application.”For example, a participant applying for a second Working Holiday visa on 30 September 2015 will only need to provide pay slips covering any specified work performed between 31 August and 30 September. The participant can include specified work they have undertaken before 31 August 2015 in their application without needing to provide pay slips for this work.”

How does this affect people doing volunteer work now?

The department has acknowledged that some people will be in the middle of doing their WWOOF work and will be unable to provide payslips. In this case your WWOOF host can write you an explanatory letter which can be added to your application however the department will assess these on a case by case basis so it is in no way guaranteed that you will be able to use these days for your application!

The department of immigration and border protection issued this statement: 

“All Australian employers must provide their employees with pay, conditions and workplace entitlements in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 or relevant state legislation. This includes Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) agricultural work.

From 31 August 2015, all applicants for a second Working Holiday visa must provide pay slips as evidence of appropriate remuneration with their application. This will help us ensure that work undertaken by Working Holiday visa holders is performed in accordance with workplace law. All Australian employers are legally required to provide their employees with pay slips.

Work performed before the commencement date will not require pay slip evidence.”

Moving forward..

Our advice if you’re currently doing volunteer work is to bear in mind that any work carried out from the 31st August won’t count towards your 2nd year visa so if you only have a certain amount of days left to complete your farm work, don’t leave it too late!

** UPDATE – May 2016**

“Note: These temporary transitional arrangements will conclude on 30 November 2015. All specified work performed from 1 December 2015 onwards will need to be paid work with pay slips provided as evidence, regardless of whether a participant commenced working for their employer before 31 August 2015.”

If you have any questions regarding your 2nd year visa, get in touch! If you wish to apply for a second working holiday visa and you’re looking for your farm work, take a look at our Guide to Farm Work in Australia. It has everything you need to know about the when, where and why!

For more information regarding 2nd year visas check out our website, Travellers at Work.

 

Welcome Jess, the newest addition to our Ultimate family!

Jess has joined the UltimateOz crew as a tour leader over the summer months! She’s friendly, always has a smile on her face and let’s face it…she’s a bit of a ledge! Say ‘Hiiiii Jess!’..

Getting into the Aussie spirit!   Working as a tour leader for UltimateOz

Jess & her Aussie adventure so far..

“I arrived in Australia in November 2014 and had an amazing first week with Ultimate Oz! I made some friends for life, and actually still live with a girl I met that week! I had already travelled around and worked in America so Australia seemed like the logical next place as I was too nervous to go travelling in a non-english speaking country alone.

Since being here, I have lived in Sydney and Melbourne. In Melbourne I lived right next to the beach near St Kilda and worked as a waitress in the evenings. Mornings off were spent at the beach sunbathing or kayaking (living the dream hey!?) and I even got free dinner when I finished work –  awesome!

I also did my regional work in NSW on a horse breeding farm near Tamworth for 3 months to gain my second year visa, which I loved!! It was so much fun and working with animals was amazing. I’d definitely recommend everyone to do some regional work in Australia. Not only is it a great experience (how many people can say they worked on an aussie farm in the outback!?) but it also allows you to apply for your second year visa to spend some more time in Oz! Check out this blog for info on second year visas and how to get yours!

Working on a horse farm is a great way to get your second year visa   The countryside in regional NSW is beautiful   Working with animals is great!   Regional NSW has some great sunsets

After doing my regional work, I did a road trip on the Great Ocean Road in a campervan (absolutely stunning beaches!) and spent 6 weeks travelling up the East Coast on the Loka bus to Cairns. I loved doing the East Coast with Loka as it made it so easy to make friends at every place I stopped. My favourite moment of the East Coast was doing my open water dive course on Magnetic Island. Maggie is absolutely beautiful and I definitely learnt a new skill that I want to turn into a hobby! You can also hire little pink and white ‘barbie like’ 4×4’s to drive around the island. There is so much to see on the East coast so if you’re planning a trip make sure you give yourself enough time!!

Cuddle a koala on the East coast of Australia!   Hire a 'barbie' car in Maggie Island!    The East coast of Oz is a great place to surf!   The Whitsunday Islands are a East coast highlight!

I came back to Sydney to work for UltimateOz, hoping to make Sydney feel like home for the newbies arriving now in the same way my group leaders did for me when I first arrived. Meeting new people every week is so awesome! So what’s next for me? Who knows?! My bucket list of places to visit has doubled since being in Australia. Thailand, Bali, Fiji and Western Australia are top of my list right now and once my second year visa is up I may travel over the pond and work my way around New Zealand! I also really want to cage dive with sharks so I’ll have to fit that in somewhere!”

Want some help planning your trip? Just get in touch with our travel team for help, advice & discounts on travel!

Meet the rest of the ULTIMATE crew here and keep an eye out for crew updates & stories!

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If you’re reading this, the chances are that you’ve arrived in Australia on your first working holiday visa, fallen in love with the place and wondering how you can spend more time in this amazing country. If the idea of heading home after a year in Oz scares you, luckily there is a way to stay for another year: the Second working holiday visa. To obtain your 2nd year visa, you’ll need to complete 3  calendar months (or 88 days on and off) working in a designated regional area doing what the department of immigration class as ‘Specified work.’

Most backpackers work on farms, fruit picking and packing, carrying out general farm work or mustering cattle. You can also carry out construction or mining work or volunteer with programs such as WWOOF (Willing workers on organic farms), where you work approximately 4-6 hours per day in exchange for food and accommodation. Volunteering has been a popular way for backpackers to gain their 2nd year visa: it’s a great way to learn the skills necessary to work on a farm and with lots of casual short term jobs with host families available, it’s a great way to travel around while you work.

Second Year Visa Changes

Despite the popularity in backpackers volunteering to gain their 2nd year visa, on the 1st May 2015 the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, announced that soon, volunteer work will no longer count towards 2nd working holiday visa extensions. This means that any work done through the WWOOFing association or any unpaid regional work will no longer be counted towards the 3 months or 88 days work needed to apply for your visa.

Minister Cash said the changes address a concern that some employers are exploiting the second Working Holiday visa initiative by encouraging Working Holiday visa holders to work for less than the minimum wage. He said, “The current arrangements can provide a perverse incentive for visa holders to agree to less than acceptable conditions in order to secure another visa.”

The department of immigration are now in the process of implementing the changes to the 2nd year visa that are said to be ‘phased in’ over the next few months however no official date has been set for the changes. To keep up to date with these changes, we would suggest keeping an eye on information posted on the WWOOF site.

How will the changes affect you?

Those seeking to apply for a second Working Holiday visa will be asked to produce an official payslip from their employer, demonstrating they have completed their regional work component. If you’re currently doing volunteer work to gain your visa extension, our advice is to bear in mind that you may need to complete paid regional work to make up the 88 days needed before applying for your 2nd year visa. These changes won’t impact on current visa applications.

If you wish to apply for a second working holiday visa and you’re looking for your farm work, take a look at our Guide to Farm Work in Australia. It has everything you need to know about the when, where and why!

For more information regarding 2nd year visas check out our website, Travellers at Work. Completed your regional work and need to claim your tax back? We recommend registering with Taxback.com now to avoid the rush at the end of the tax year in June!

If you’ve come to Australia on a working holiday visa, we’ve every confidence that you are going to fall in love and not want to leave … so, you’ll probably be wanting to do some farm work so that you qualify for a second year.

I know what you might be thinking (if you’re anything like I was)! Ugh … farm work! But it’s actually not as bad as it sounds, I promise!

Even though three months/88 days on a farm might sound like it is your worst nightmare, there are a lot of good reasons to get it done, the second year being only one of them!

A new experience!

A lot of people who I met doing my farm work had never even stepped on to a farm before they arrived! It’s something new and different that you’ll probably only get to do this once … you didn’t come all the way to Australia to only do what you would normally do at home! You came to try new things, go to new places, meet new people from different walks of life to yourself. Working on a farm is a great way to tick all those boxes!

Farm Work in Australia

Money, money, money!

Farming is a GREAT way to save for whatever new adventures you have planned. Most of the time, you are in a small town, or sometimes, the middle of nowhere, working most of the day and most of the week and you don’t really get the chance to spend what you are earning! When I did my farm work, all I had to pay was my rent and buy food/drink … I didn’t have much time for anything else. The money that I saved during my farm work funded the whole of my East Coast trip, including all my activities and meant that when I got to Sydney, I didn’t have to stress about finding work immediately, because I was still ok for a couple of weeks!

Personal reasons to do farm work!

Remember what you’re doing your farm work for!

The second year visa!

It goes without saying that if you do fall in love with Australia and decide you want to stay longer or come back for another year at a later date, then you pretty much have no choice … regional/farm work is one of the only ways that can happen! Not all good things come for free eh!

The friends you make!

When I did my farm work, I lived in a working hostel with about 50 other people. We were a family! We worked, lived, ate together, we got each other through when farming got hard and we were exhausted, or when we were missing home, and we shared some very fun times! The friends I made while doing my farm work made the experience what it was and I’ll always remember them, whether we have kept in touch since or not! I now actually live with my best mate who is one of the girls I did my farm work with … we’ve known each other for nearly two years! But we never would have met if it wasn’t for our farm work!

Farm Work in Australia

Great friends and great memories!

 

I’m not going to lie, farm work was hard, a lot of the time. It was long hours and sometimes we went days without a day off (I think the most days we did in a row was 19! (And there were other farms that beat that!) But what I got from farming was well worth absolutely all of it! I got to stay in Australia (and went on to get sponsored,) I met some awesome people, and most importantly (or not) I now know just about everything there is to know about melons! Like, literally everything! Haha. At the end of the day, it is what you make it, so you may as well embrace it!

If you’re thinking of doing your farm work, it can be a bit daunting when you start to look for somewhere. I have a few tips for you:
• Try and get a job that offers an hourly rate rather than a piece rate – you’re more likely to earn more!
• Be wary of bogus job ads – If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
• Be open minded about what you do – you may not like cows but cattle mustering might turn out to be something really fun!
• Don’t give up! The first couple of weeks were really hard for me, and they probably will be for you too – stick with it, it gets easier!

Embrace it - you'll have more fun!

It can be fun if you let it!Farm work in Australia

If you are looking for farm work, contact the team in the office and they may be able to point you in the right direction of a few places! There’s also this really handy guide we made, about what is happening in each state depending on the seasons:

Ultimate Guide to Farm Work in Australia

Any questions – give us a shout! We’re here to help!

Good luck!

Gayle xx

If you are in Australia on a 417 working holiday visa (the majority of European nations) then it is highly likely that you are able to complete 3 months of regional, specified work to gain another 12 month visa to stay in Australia!

Awesome!

We get a lot of questions about all things regional work and wanted to lay out some of the most common ones so that people everywhere could brush up on their knowledge!

If you want to extend your stay in Australia, this is the way to do it as you can apply for the 417 visa again after you’ve completed the work. Who wouldn’t want an extra 12 months in this amazing country!?

So, without further ado, we’ll get down to brass tacks and answer some questions on regional work in Australia!

Where is Regional Australia?

Basically, imagine a bubble around Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. As long as you aren’t working within that bubble, you are in regional Australia.

The Department of Immigration gives you a handy list of all the areas that fall under regional Australia here. Make sure you check back to see if the list has been updated before you head out to your post-code of choice to complete your work.

If you complete any work in an unspecified area, even if it is specified work, it does not count as part of your regional work for a second year visa. The work has to be done in an area outlined by the Department of Immigration and in an industry specified by the Department too.

What is Specified Work?

There are five main areas of specified work, outlined by the Department of Immigration – Agriculture, Construction, Forestry and Tree Felling, Fishing and Pearling, and Mining.

If your job falls under any of these sections then you may be completing specified work. Bear in mind that all roles within these industries do not count as specified work. If you are a cook on a mine or a child-minder on a cattle station, for example, you are not completing specified work.

Do I have to do three months straight or can I break it up?

You can do either – if you want to hammer out three months straight then go for it but if you want to break up the work, travel around a little bit then that’s fine too.

Just make sure that each stop along the way is in one of the regional postcodes and counts as specified work. If you aren’t sure, get in touch with the Department of Immigration directly and they should be able to help you out.

If you do decide to break up your three months then it becomes a countdown of 88 days worked. If you opt to go for three months straight and start tomorrow, you finish in three months from that first date worked.

What Does Getting Signed Off Mean?

If you’ve spent any time in an Australian hostel, anywhere in the country, chances are you’ve heard the phrase signed off when talking about regional work. Well, what does it mean?

Put simply, when you are completing your regional work, you can download and print a government form to prove you are actually doing the work which your farmer or employer then signs for you.

The form is really straight forward and gives you a lot of handy information that can help you when you decide to do your regional work so it is definitely worth a look over and make sure that you print one off before you head to your first regional destination.

If you are already at the farm and haven’t got a form printed – don’t fret! You need to be able to prove your time living and working in regional areas so any kind of evidence helps. Whether it is a receipt from the local pub, travel tickets, bank statements that show ‘Bob’s Bananas’ has been paying you once a week for the last six weeks – everything counts as evidence.

The government form is the best kind of evidence as the farmer signs an official document. If you can’t get this document, try and get your boss to write you a bit of a reference with the dates you started and finished your regional work, the actual number of days you worked and make sure you get their Australian Business Number (ABN) as you will need this when applying for your next visa!

Actual Number of Days? What’s that? Do Weekends Count?

Actual number of days is just a posh way of asking how long you were at each regional stop you took. If you work full-time hours for the industry you are in (more than likely 40 hours a week plus, spread over five or six days) then, yes weekends do count against your total.

If you do spread out your regional work, completing a couple of weeks here and there throughout your first year in Australia then the actual number of days will become important to you. Then you are on the quest for 88 days! If you work full-time hours, Monday to Friday on a pecan farm in a regional postcode then Saturday and Sunday are included off your 88 days.

If you work Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a construction firm in Darwin then you only tick off three days from your 88.

If you work a double shift on the same day, that still only counts as one day worked so don’t be fooled into thinking if you smash out loads of hours in three days then take the next five off that they are covered in your 88!

Is There Any Way Around the Regional Work?

Legally, no there isn’t. Unless you can get sponsored by a company or the state to keep you in Australia for an extended period – the farm work is your only hope.

Don’t worry too much about it, you may hear some horror stories but it isn’t that bad. You may even enjoy the work or seeing a new side to Australia!

What Happens When I’ve Finished My Three Months Work?

If you’re anything like me, you get absolutely hammered and head for the nearest city as soon as possible!

In all seriousness, once you have finished your regional work it is time to get your second year visa!

You’ve got two options really, if you want to stay in Australia for another twelve months right after your first twelve months end you apply for your visa while you are still in Australia. You apply for your visa online so make sure you have all the documents and evidence you need before proceeding with your application.

You’re going to need an ABN number for each company you worked for, the postcode you worked in, how long you were at each place and the actual number of days you worked on each place. Once you fill out the online form, you send it to the Department of Immigration who check over it and will get back to you in the next couple of days with more information.

More often than not, the government will ok your application and your visa will start as soon as your old one ends. If the government require more evidence of your regional work then they’ll give you an address to send everything too (make sure you get photocopies before you send anything) and you will go from there.

As long as you did your farm work, you’ll have nothing to worry about. If you try and get around the system, you’re probably going to get caught and deported and you won’t be allowed back in Australia for the foreseeable future.

If you want to go home first, go and travel somewhere else or just want a break from Australia, you can apply for your visa outside of the country but you have to be outside of the country when your visa is issued. If you do this option, it is more likely that you’ll face a little bit more scrutiny than carrying over your visa so make sure you have all your evidence with you when you submit your application but also when you arrive back in Australia to start your second year.

Remember, you have to be back in Australia before you turn 31 or your visa is no longer valid. The same rules apply to your second visa as did with your first.

During my Second Year, Can I do More Farm Work for Another Visa?

No. You can do more farm work if you loved it and want to get paid to do it but you won’t be able to apply for another visa if you’ve already done it once.

Tell me your horror stories!!

Having completed my regional work, I can tell you that it wasn’t for me. I’ve met people who absolutely loved their time in regional Australia but I’m a city boy at heart and always will be!

That isn’t to say I didn’t have fun, it just wasn’t my idea of the best time in Australia! I spread my regional work over a six month period and stayed in New South Wales to complete the lot even though it is more common to head to Queensland to get the work done.

I started on a vineyard, moved onto a horse racing stud and then finished on a cattle farm – and I’d probably rank them in reverse order. The work, the people and the places got better as they went along and I ended up really enjoying my time on the cattle farm!

The vineyard was awful but that had more to do with the people than anything else (honestly, the worst people I’ve ever met so I reckon that was more unlucky than a state of things to come).

The stud was really interesting as I know nothing about horses but can now tell you a fair bit about the process of breeding race horses and the cattle farm taught me everything I’ll ever need to know about Angus beef!

You’ll see spiders, probably snakes and more weird Australian’s than you’ll know what to do with but it is definitely an experience! It isn’t something I’d rush back to but it gets you another visa and that’s all that really mattered to me.

I did some WWOOFing and it was great if you can find the right host family but I’d keep it as a last resort if you are running out of time to complete your farm work or already have enough money saved up from working in the city or from home. If you love the idea of organic farming and organic produce then it is definitely something to check out though.

A lot of people have the misguided idea that by doing their farm work they will earn a fortune. This isn’t always the case and farm work can be quite difficult to find. If you don’t put the work in and just sit around waiting for something to happen, there are another million backpackers out there that will do your job instead.

The regional work is a good way to save because there is nothing you can spend your money on but don’t turn your nose up because you are expecting $700 a week with your accommodation and food included because some guy from Birmingham told you about it at Side Bar.

At the end of it all, you are doing this for the visa so keep that in mind. It is another 12 months in a country that you obviously love (or more importantly, away from a country that you don’t) and as long as you can keep the end goal in sight you’ll be fine!