Australia PR via New Agriculture Visa 2021 – Subclass 403 Visa (Australian Agriculture Worker Stream)
COVID-19 has reduced the supply of overseas workers in Australia’s agriculture sector by limiting the supply of overseas mainly due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions. The departure of temporary migrants has placed further strain on the supply of low and semi-skilled workers, in particular, seasonal workers in the primary industry sectors.
To address critical labour shortages in Australia’s primary industries, the Australian Government has introduced the Australia Agriculture Visa, a new stream under the existing Subclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) visa. This new visa will be implemented through the Australian Agriculture Worker Program (AAWP). AAWP will be administered by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Potential visa applicants will need to be sponsored by an employer who is participating in the Australian Agriculture Worker Program.
Primary Industry Sectors Eligible to Participate in Australian Agriculture Worker Program
The following are the primary industry sectors eligible to participate in the Australian Agriculture Worker Program:
- Fisheries (including aquaculture)
- Meat Processing
AAWP will target skilled, semi-skilled and low-skilled workers across the above sectors. ANZSCO occupations eligible to access the AAWP may be specified.
The Australian Agriculture visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries, negotiated through bilateral agreements. The first workers will arrive once negotiations with sending countries and quarantine arrangements are agreed upon and finalised.
DFAT has started the bilateral negotiations with selected countries to participate in the Australian Agriculture Worker Program. It was reported that the Australian Government is currently prioritising bilateral deals with South-East Asian countries, which include Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
Additional countries will be considered over time. Please check DFAT webpage at https://www.dfat.gov.au/people-people/international-labour-mobility/australian-agriculture-visa for updated information.
The recruitment process for the Australian Agriculture visa is currently in the design phase.
The Australian Government will make further announcements on program details, including the application process for employers and the recruitment process, following formal consultation with the industry.
Pathway to Permanent Residency
The Australian Government is committed to exploring permanent residence pathways for Subclass 403 visa holders in the Australian Agriculture program, including regional settlement.
The Australian Government will make further announcements once the Australian Agriculture visa program becomes operational in late 2021 and early 2022.
When will this visa start?
The legislative framework for the Australian Agriculture visa, through the Migration Amendment (Australian Agriculture Workers) Regulations 2021, has commenced on 30 Sept 2021. However, as noted above, the specific details on the program, including sponsoring and application processes, are yet to be announced as of the time of writing.
The agriculture visa program will be implemented in 2 phases:
- Phase 1 – Between December 2021 and March 2022
- Recruitment under Phase 1 will only available to a small number of existing Approved Employers who are already accredited and experienced with the existing Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme (PALM Scheme);
- Involve small cohort of primary industry sectors workers, limited by:
- Border Restriction Policy;
- Country Readiness;
- Quarantine Availability.
- Phase 2 – From April 2022
- Expansion of Phase 1 in terms of the number of employers participating in the agriculture visa, the number of workers recruited and the number of countries participating;
- If you are an employer who does not currently participate in the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme, you can recruit workers from Phase 2 (April 2022);
- Details on how you can recruit workers from Phase 2 (April 2022) onwards will be published and updated on DFAT webpage at https://www.dfat.gov.au/people-people/international-labour-mobility/australian-agriculture-visa as soon as they become available.
Are workers allowed to change employers (sponsors)?
Yes. Emphasis on worker welfare, safety, and protection will be the main feature of the Australia Agriculture Visa Program. This is to protect workers from exploitation by employers.
Employers must pay wages and entitlements as set by law and provide a safe workplace.
Contact Ausdirect Migration today to tailor the best suitable option(s) for your migration, and we will assist you in navigating every step of the process during the journey.