In June 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the planned introduction of a new agriculture-specific visa that would enable citizens of the United Kingdom to work in Australian primary industries.
Mr Morrison was attending a G20 Summit in London and finalising negotiations of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. As part of the FTA package, the agriculture visa was planned to be introduced to attract 10,000 UK nationals to supplement the domestic workforce in Australia’s farming, fishery and forestry sectors.
The agriculture visa has expanded with a plan to attract foreign nationals from the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asian countries.
On 23 August 2021, a joint statement was released by Senator the Hon. Marise Payne (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women), the Hon. Alex Hawke MP (Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs), the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development) and the Hon. David Littleproud MP (Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia) announcing the establishment of the Australian agriculture visa.
The agriculture visa program will be operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In another joint statement, the agriculture visa was confirmed to be available to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The specific visa application criteria are still being finalised.
The agriculture visa will not have any limit on the number of applications and will provide a pathway to a permanent residence visa and regional settlement in Australia.
While the federal government intends to formally commence the operation of the agriculture visa by the end of September 2021, bilateral talks with potential participating countries are still ongoing.
The government also needs to reconcile coronavirus pandemic issues in Australia with the expected influx of foreign nationals entering the country on agricultural visas. The decreasing frequency of inbound international flights combined with the high cost of mandatory quarantine upon arrival into Australia may become disincentives for applicants who are not able afford these additional financial costs.
The new agriculture visa may very well provide part of the solution to the decreasing number of employees working in Australia’s primary industries once the government opens the country’s international borders to the world.
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The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.