Working Holiday Visa Update: No More Farm Work, Free Visas and More

Darryl Newby
Darryl Newby

As with all things, you wait around ages for some good news and then it all comes at once. Two weeks ago we had news on working holiday changes for just Brits, now there is news for all Working Holiday Makers.

No More Farm Work

Up until now, people on a 417 visa (Working Holiday Visa) have needed to complete 3 months of specified work in a rural area (often known as farm work) to extend their visa for a 2nd year. Doing this work will still get you a visa extension, but as you can see from below, other types of work will be able to be carried out too.

  1. From 8 May 2021, WHMs working in the tourism and hospitality sectors anywhere in Australia may now work for up to 12 months with the same employer or organisation without requesting permission.
  2. From 22 June 2021, work undertaken in the tourism and hospitality sectors in northern, remote or very remote Australia can also be counted as specified work towards eligibility for a second or third WHM visa. 
  3.  ​This option will be available for WHM applications lodged from March 2022.
Taken from official government statement here.
That means if you’re in Australia you will be able to swap your farm work for tourism or hospitality, to get your third year visa. 😱
We’re still unsure if they’ll keep this for future travellers, but it is a really positive sign.
You could be a tour guide in Cairns and that will count towards extending your visa.


You may remember that last year the Australian government announced that people who didn’t use their visa, or people that had to fly home because of COVID would be eligible to a free visa in the future. I’m excited to let you know that the exact process for that has FINALLY been confirmed and announced this week.

Who Can Apply?
You must be outside Australia to apply for a nil VAC WHM visa.

You may apply if you hold or held a ‘COVID-19 affected WHM visa’. To hold a COVID-19 affected visa, you must meet all of the below requirements:

  • you were granted a WHM (subclass 417 or 462) visa before 20 March 2020
  • your WHM visa expired on or after 20 March 2020 while you were outside Australia or will expire before 31 December 2021 while you are outside Australia
  • you did not travel to Australia on your WHM visa or departed Australia before your visa expired.


To be eligible for a nil VAC WHM visa, you must:

  • be outside Australia and apply by 31 December 2022
  • hold a WHM eligible passport (subclass 417 or subclass 462)
  • be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) at time of application, except for Canadian, French and Irish citizens who can be 18 to 35 years old (inclusive)
  • meet health and character requirements
  • not be accompanied by dependent children.

Visa Period

A nil VAC WHM visa, like all WHM visas granted to applicants who are outside Australia, is in effect for 12 months from the date you enter Australia.

You will have 12 months to enter Australia from the date your visa is granted.

How to Apply

All applicants must apply for this visa online​ and must be outside Australia at time of application.

Processing Times

Visa applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and processing times can vary due to individual circumstances.

Processing times have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and visa applications may take longer to finalise.

The Department is currently prioritising processing of visa applications for travellers who are exempt from travel restrictions and have an urgent need to travel.

For more information on travel restrictions, see COVID-19 and the border.

Applying for Subsequent WHM Visas

If you hold or have held a COVID-19 affected WHM visa, that visa will not count towards the total number of three WHM visas you may hold.

If You Are Not Eligible for a VAC WHM Visa

If you are not eligible to apply for a nil VAC WHM visa, you may be eligible to request a VAC refund or apply for a standard (full VAC) WHM visa.

For further information, see Refunds and waivers of Visa Application Charges.

WHM Holders in Australia
From March 2022, eligible current and former WHMs in Australia will be able to apply for a WHM visa with a nil VAC. This will provide them with another opportunity to meet the specified work requirements for a subsequent WHM visa.

Former WHM visa holders who have transitioned to another visa, such as the 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa, may also be eligible to apply for an onshore nil VAC ​WHM visa.

More information on the onshore nil VAC WHM visa will be av​ailable on the Department’s website once arrangements are finalised.

Information taken from the government website.

Are you ready to start your working holiday?

Need help for your working holiday visa?

We have been in your position trying to work out how all the details of a working holiday visa, so we have made it easy for you.

Check out our Australia Working Holiday Visa page as this will answer a lot of the unanswered questions you may have.

UPDATE: 4 April 2022 | UK – Australia Free Trade Agreement


Maximum stay of three years on a working holiday

British Working Holiday Makers visa holders can soon stay three years in Australia without doing regional work and this excludes any ‘COVID -19 affected visa’.

Three Separate Visas

The years will be on separate visas – meaning you apply for the first year, then second and then third. There is no need for you to stay in Australia three years consecutively.

E.g. Harry from Hull comes applies for his visa in 2023 when he is 20 years old. 
He comes to Australia in 2024 when he is 21 for a year – then returns to England in 2025.
2027 Harry realises he misses Australia  when he is 24 and applies for the second year visa – which he uses in 2028 when he is 25.
He travels and then falls in love with someone from New Zealand and goes to live there after his second year visa has finished.
2034 – things didn’t go well for Harry and his partner in New Zealand so he wants to give Australia one more go. He applies for his third year visa in 2034 when he is 31 and goes on his last work ing holiday in 2035 when he is 32.

You Can Come Back

If you were in Australia on a working holiday and didn’t do your regional work but are still under the age of 35 you ARE able to come back to Australia, when the free trade agreement kicks in.
Even if you have used your second year visa – you will be able to apply for a third year visa once the free trade agreement is finalised.

The Australia – UK Free Trade Agreement is not in place yet!

Update 12 January 2023

The Free Trade Agreement is set to kick in around March / April 2023, however it still hasn’t been agreed yet. 

Keep Up To Date

Darryl Newby

Darryl Newby

Travelled to Australia from the UK in 2010 for what was supposed to be a 6 month visit...that didn't quite go to plan. He now calls Melbourne home, co-founded Welcome to Travel and is a proud dog dad to his pug, Harvey.


37 thoughts on “Working Holiday Visa Update: No More Farm Work, Free Visas and More”

  1. Hey guys. I was in australia from April 2019 to April 2020. Does anyone know if I’m applicable for the nil VAC WHM? My visa expired after 20 march 2020, and by my understanding it looks like I fit the requirements? If I’m missing something kindly let me know. Thanks

      1. Eimear Murphy


        I traveled to Australia in March 2019 on a WHV. As a nurses I got sponsored for two years (482) and complete my visa in 2022 left in December. Would I be able to apply for a second year WHV?

      2. When willl the new FTA come into play? I done my first whv but didn’t do the farm work and I’m itching so come back to aus :/

  2. Hi guys, do you know if Australia will increase the maximum age for Working Holiday Visa because of COVID-19? Many people (include me) can’t leave anymore because, due to COVID-19 and borders closed, now are more than 30 years old.

    1. Hi Johnny,
      I’m not sure that they will.
      On the immigration COVID-19 Visa page it states:

      “If you no longer meet the age requirement to apply for a nil VAC WHM visa, you can request a VAC refund. To do this, use the COVID-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form.”

      Which makes me think that they’re not going to make adjustments to the age unfortunately.

  3. Hello,
    I am preparing my application for the visa and the home affairs page says that youre allowed to travel into Australia if you have a visa that allows you to. But here youre talking about how they only want to open up in march even though theyve been open since December already? Im curious where ur coming from with that. Im planning to do working holiday from July on so we will see if it works out.

  4. Hiiii, I applied for the WHV 417 in Oct, 2020 but still haven’t been granted.
    When the time I applied the max is 3 months and now is 5 months. I’m super struggling with the process, if it’s possible that I might need to wait for a year? Or is there any other option to faster the processing time? Thanks!

  5. Hi, what are the current age limits for working holiday visa’s from the UK and has the age limit been put upto 35 years old?


  6. Hi Darryl,

    I hope you can help. I’ve been dreaming about moving to Australia for so long but I don’t quite know where to start and what visa I’m eligible for. Its so many options and websites that ways different things. I’m 29, working as a Head of Events in London, I’ll be 30 in June this year. I’m originally from Poland and I don’t know if I’m eligible as a polish passport holder living in UK for 10.5 years. Any contact with you would be more than helpful, I’m just trying to post on websites like this hoping someone can help me. Thanks in advance. Best

  7. Hello,
    I had a WHM visa that was effected by covid. Do you know if I’m eligible to reapply again for the VAC WHM visa if now I’m over the age of 30? Does the requirement: “be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) at time of application” apply to the new application? Cheers ✌🏼

  8. I am currently in USA and reaching my 31 year age mark in September. I really want to do the work and holiday visa but am a bit nervous as these last few years was put on hold due to Covid. With that being said, I have a few questions if you do not mind me answering.

    1. What is the likeability I can enter Australia at this time with the world still not being normal?

    2. If I am able to enter Australia, am I able to fly into any airport? Or do I need to fly to a specific city (Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, etc.) to start my work?

    3. Is farm work still required? Or can I work at other places when I start?

    4. If I am able to come, is it better to look for jobs while I am there? Or look for jobs beforehand?

    5. Is the age requirement still 30? With Australia being shut down these last few years, I feel like they should extend the age requirement for U.S. citizens.

    Thank you and please let me know.


  9. Hi, I was in Australia on a UK working holiday visa during 2017/2018. Unfortunately I didn’t complete my farm work back then, but would love to go back. Does anyone know if I could now apply for my 2nd year visa with the changes they have made.

  10. Hi, mybe you can help me.
    I was in Australia from 01/10/2019 until 20/12/21 but now I want to go back. I was checking my optons and I think that the best one is Onshore Nil VAC WHV but i have some doubts. I have to be in Australia? (because I saw that it is a requirement but here it says the opposite), I have the Italian passaport and I am 31 years old, now with the chages of the age in the WHV 417, this chage applays for this one?

  11. Hey there,

    I’m trying to discover if I’m eligible for a nil vac visa so I’ll just discuss my situation and you can tell me whether I am or not. I’ve already been in Australia on three working holiday visas and I’m currently on a COVID visa. I was on my second working holiday visa when the pandemic arose. I applied before 20th of March 2020 and my second working holiday visa expired on 6th of September 2020 before being granted my third working holiday visa.

    1. Hi A,
      I think that is a question for immigration but from the sounds of things it looks like you still have a third year visa eligible to you.

      ‘Working Holiday visa holders can currently stay three years in Australia. This stay consists of three separate visas granted for 12 months each. This excludes any ‘COVID -19 affected visa’. These arrangements will not change. When the new arrangements commence, UK passport holders will not have to meet any specified work requirements when applying for a second and third visa.’

      1. Hi Darryl
        I have dual nationality so have Irish and British passports. I originally did 2 years WHV on my Irish passport a few years ago, do you have any idea if I could apply for the third year on my British passport once the new rules come into play? I can’t find the answer anywhere!

  12. Hey Guys
    I came to Australia just under 10 years ago and I didn’t realise I had to complete 3 months of specified work to be able to get a 2nd year visa! I’m now wanting to re visit Australia I guess on a 2nd year visa, but I’m reading they’ve got rid of the specified work potentially! Do you think it’s something I can potentially apply for? Thank you!

  13. Hi there
    I’m currently in Australia from England on my first working holiday visa. I arrived here early March. Is the above saying that when my visa runs out next March I can leave, apply for my second year and return?
    Thanks in advance!

  14. Hi there,
    This feed is so helpful as I had absolutely no idea about this new agreement between UK and Aus so thanks for that info.
    Question: I am just about to apply for a Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) but my occupation is currently on the ‘Skilled Occupation list’ and I think I have deduced that (should my occupation stay on that list as I know they are of course subject to change) I am eligible for the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) – Short Term Stream should I become employed by an Australian company. My question therefore being, if I go to Australia on the 417 visa and then find work which allows for the company to nominate me for a 482 visa, can you ‘pivot’ from one visa to the other before the year is up? Or would I have to fulfil the 417 visa?
    Thank you!

  15. Hi,

    I traveled to Australia in March 2019 on a WHV. As a nurses I got sponsored for two years (482) and complete my visa in 2022 left in December. Would I be able to apply for a second year WHV?

  16. I was on my first working holiday visa (subclass 417) from November of 2019 to November of 2020. I have since been on the covid pandemic visa for three months, and then have been waiting for 15 months on an application for another covid visa.

    I did NOT complete my 88 days of specified work on my first working holiday visa, because I would have been able to given that the pandemic kicked off only 4 months after I arrived in Australia and borders started closing.

    I am trying to figure out if I am eligible for an onshore nil vac whm visa and if so, how do I apply for it? Do I re-apply for a first working holiday visa because that is the one I had that was “covid-affected” based on the department’s criteria, or is there something else I am meant to apply for?


  17. Hi. I was on my first WHV from Feb 2019 – January 2020. I then went on a student visa. I couldn’t complete my regional work for my second year as I injured my spine so this was best option at the time. I’m still on the student visa but I’m wondering if I’d be eligible for the Nil Vac visa? Or would I have had to be on my first WHV after March 2020?

    If not eligible for nil vac, would I be eligible for a covid visa (408) once I only have 90days left of my student visa?

    Any advice would be much appreciated!
    Thank you!

  18. Hey! I had my WHV granted in July, I enter in Feb. Will the changes apply to visas granted before the changes? Or only visas granted once it has been applied? Thanks

  19. Hi .
    I was wondering if you could help me .
    Over a year ago I applied for me WHV with my boyfriend and that got accepted instantly. However I have been travelling south east Asia for a couple of months before I go aus next month but didn’t mention this on my visa as it wasn’t my plans then . Will this be okay? Or do I need to get a health check / let them know ?

    Thanks you in advance.

  20. Hello, I wanted to ask a question that I have about my visa, in March 2020 I was in my first year of WHV (417). I applied for my second year after the end of the first. In December 2022 I applied to the nil vac which I have approved. My question is, with this nil vac would I have my first year or my second year again?

  21. Hi,
    i have entered in Australia in January 2020 for a work and holiday visa (Subclass 417). I left Australia in march 2020 because of the corona virus.
    I would try to get a nil vac WHM visa, but i had to apply by 31 December 2022.

    Is there a option to continue my old visa or get a new work and holiday visa? I really would like to get a second chance for a working holiday visa. Hopefully i am not to late. When i have been outside australia because of the corona virus, my visa was running out…

    Thank you in advance.

  22. Hi,
    i have entered in Australia in January 2020 for a work and holiday visa (Subclass 417). I left Australia in march 2020 because of the corona virus.
    I would try to get a nil vac WHM visa, but i had to apply by 31 December 2022.

    Is there a option to continue my old visa or get a new work and holiday visa? I really would like to get a second chance for a working holiday visa. Hopefully i am not to late. When i have been outside australia because of the corona virus, my visa was running out…

    Thank you in advance.

  23. Hey I did my first two years from 2014 to 2016. On a passport that has since long expired. Would I still be able to get the third year on a new passport? I’m currently in the country on the 408visa

  24. Firstly thank-you so much for writing this amazing blog and sharing information in such a clean, easy, simple to digest way!
    I have already completed my 1st working holiday visa, and my second was rejected as I did 72 days not 88 days of farm work. I’m now 31 but with the new ‘uk free trade agreement’ I should be able to apply for my 2nd year working holiday, then my third! I’m so excited about this :).
    It’s my dream to eventually gain PR and live in Australia full time. What visa pathways/ streams would you recommend from the working holiday visa? Looking forward to seeing your reply! Thanks, Steph 🙂

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