Aussie bush fires: Government to relax requirements on working holiday visas
Canberra - The Australian government said it will relax restrictions for backpackers and other visitors on working holiday visas in a bid to help regional communities recover from devastating bush fires.
Such foreign visitors will help rebuild homes and farms as well as clear land and repair roads as they live and work in bush fire-ravaged areas, acting minister for immigration Alan Tudge said in a statement on Monday.
Tudge said the new rules for working holiday visas, effective immediately, would be welcome news to hard-hit farmers and regional businesses.
They are also set to likely boost the local economies.
The visitors will "come as holiday makers but will leave as life long friends," Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said.
Under the changes to visa rules, visitors will be able to live and work in such areas with the same employer for up to a year instead of six months.
The government's definition of specified work, which holders of working holiday visas have to complete if they wish to stay in Australia for longer, will also be modified to include construction work in disaster zones.
The Australian government gives working holiday visas (also called 417 or 462 visas) to young people from listed countries to stay, travel and work in Australia for a limited time, with many of them working on farms or in the hospitality industry.
According to Home Affairs Department figures, 209 036 working holiday visas were issued in 2018-19.
Germany was third-highest recipient country, with about 19 000 Germans receiving such visas.DPA