Opinion: Changes to working holiday visa work conditions

by Contributor26 Apr 2017

Sarah Thapa outlines what employers need to know about working holiday visas

Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) will now be able to work for the same employer for up to 12 months, as a result of changes to the 6 month work rule introduced on 27 March 2017.

The change comes following an announcement by the Treasurer on 27 September 2016, to allow WHMs to work for the same employer for up to 12 months, provided the work is undertaken in different locations and work in any one location does not exceed 6 months.

What Is changing?

The Working Holiday (subclass 417) and Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visas allow visa holders to have an extended holiday in Australia and to supplement their funds with short term employment. These visas are granted with condition 8547, which limits work with each employer to 6 months.

Until now, WHMs were limited to work for a maximum of 6 months with any one employer for the duration of their visa. Generally, this required that WHMs work for different employers or businesses (for example, with different ABNs) to comply with the 6 month work restriction.

From 27 March 2017, WHMs can work for the same employer for up to 12 months provided the work is undertaken in different locations and work in any one location does not exceed 6 months.

For example, a front of house manager employed by a hospitality group while holding a Working Holiday Visa can work for 6 months in Establishment A and 6 months in Establishment B where both establishments are operated by the same employer, without being in breach of the 6 month work restriction.

Or a web developer working for digital agency in Sydney can now undertake a further 6 months at the Melbourne office of the same organisation.

However, working in a different position at the same workplace (for example, changing to a kitchen role after 6 months waiting tables in a restaurant) would be considered a continuation of employment with the same employer in the same location, and is not permitted under the new rules.

If the working holiday visa is extended for a second 12 month period, then the 6 month work restriction starts again.

In some circumstances, it is possible to request permission from the Department of Immigration for an employee to work beyond 6 months where an application for a subsequent visa with work rights has been lodged (for example, a 457 visa). However, these applications can take 2 weeks or more to process, and sometimes are not granted until the 457 visa grant. The changes to condition 8547 may provide a work-around for some employers.

What you can do

This will be welcome news for employers that hire WHMs to meet demand for short term, casual workers in their business for up to 12 months.

Employers can now employ WHMs for periods of up to 12 months (or longer, subject to extension of the employee’s working holiday visa). Employers and HR teams can now plan to retain these employees where it is possible to deploy them across different properties or branches in different locations.

Working holiday visa holders can also discuss with their employer opportunities for further employment with the same employer in different locations for a further 6 month period.

About the Migration Agency

The Migration Agency provides immigration advice and services to employers regarding sponsorship and visa requirements. For further information about work entitlements of working holiday visa holders contact Sarah Thapa, Managing Director of The Migration Agency via email sarah@themigrationagency.com.au or phone (02) 8896 6056.


  • by John 26/04/2017 8:31:35 PM

    Is there any update on the potential age increase to 35?

  • by Karim 1/05/2017 7:57:16 PM


    I would like to know, if there is any update for people, who are 34 years old? Is there any change in age? Thank you!