Australia plans to extend its Working Holidaymaker Program to more countries, including India. David Coleman, Immigration Minister, says that the WH Program will assist to resolve the workforce problems in regional areas.
Australia is currently under discussion with 13 countries to extend the WH Program. The Govt. wants to gain more access to foreign backpackers to work in regional areas, especially farms.
The Australia Working Holidaymaker Program includes two sub-categories:
- Working Holiday Visa
- Working and Holiday Visa
The WH Program allows young travellers to have a long holiday as well as earn money through short-term work.
Australia is targeting the following countries to extend its WH Program:
- The Philippines
- Solomon Islands
The current WH Program was witnessing a decrease in the number of backpackers. This, in turn, was creating a labour crunch in the regional areas.
Till March this year, there were about 150,000 backpackers in Australia on a WH Visa. However, the number has steadily gone down in the last 5 years.
Mr Coleman said that WH Visa holders travel further into the regional areas of Australia as compared to other foreign visitors. They also spend a significant amount which helps boost the economy of regional Australia, as quoted by The Economic Times.
Countries like Canada, Sweden, Germany and the UK are included in the Subclass 417 Working Holiday Visa. Whereas, the Subclass 462 Work and Holiday Visa includes more developing countries like Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Mr Coleman also negated claims that the WH Program is a channel for low-skilled foreign workers. He said that candidates who meet the eligibility requirements of the WH Program will only get a visa. Eligibility conditions include functional English skills and tertiary qualifications.
Farmers in Australia have welcomed the changes to the WH Program.
At present, India is not eligible for either the Subclass 417 or Subclass 462 of the Working Holidaymaker Program.
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