Farmers hope to start the new year with agriculture visa workers, but there are stumbling blocks
Agriculture visa was first announced in June 2021
To many, the Agricultural visa seemed to be a perfect visa to attract Southeast Asian farm hands to fix labour shortages within the Australian agriculture industry.
The Australian Agriculture visa is designed for primary industry sectors, including horticulture, meat processing, dairy, wool, grains, fisheries (including aquaculture) and forestry.
According to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, the agriculture visa "came into effect" on October 1
However, it has been there for four months now, and no overseas workers have arrived under the new scheme because no countries have signed up for it.
So what is causing the delays in the implementation of the Agricultural Visa?
We are waiting on the bilateral agreements with a few Southeast Asian countries that the foreign affairs minister is negotiating.
What is the problem here? Is there an Agriculture visa roadblock that makes it way longer to reach an agreement?
The agriculture visa has hit a roadblock which the government has blamed on the lobbying against the visa done by the Australian Workers Union.
The AWU has met with ambassadors and visitors and contacted many embassies from Southeast Asia, encouraging them not to sign up for the agricultural visa.
Because they fear stories of worker’s abuse within the industry and believe that if the Agricultural Visa goes ahead, it could lead to the exploitation of foreign workers.
There is a big argument between the minister of Agriculture and the Australian Workers Union.
"You don't go and do that, and actively sabotage a program and actually remove any goodwill around our reputation as a good citizen globally." Mr Littleproud said to the AWU
The other side argues that they, as the Australian Workers Union, are doing their job in lobbying to protect workers it represents and warning other countries about the history of abuse.
They are looking after the ethical side of the situation.
Will the election affect Agriculture Visa program?
Moreover, this is close to the Federal Election time, which will have specific impacts on whether the Agriculture visa will be given birth.
We have already mentioned this in the global talent visa’s blog, and we are worried that the Agricultural visa could meet the same issue.
If the Coalition wins, then the Agricultural Visa will go on.
If Labour wins, they will most likely abolish or shelf the visa, meaning it never happens.
However, as we can see it is the labour shortages happening in Australian agriculture, hectares of farmlands have been abandoned, and, in some cases, fruit is rotting on the trees.
Farmers are crying out for workers and lodging requests to the government
The government has been actively recruiting backpackers and working holidaymakers for the recovery by easing and changing policies
It is reasonable to say that, like any industry, there is always a small cohort that does the wrong thing and worsens the situation.
Anyway, the Australian side is done for the program. We have to wait for the bilateral agreement from Southeast Asian governments.
Hopefully, we may have more positive news to come shortly.
Other Visa options for workers in Agriculture?
While we are waiting for the announcement of Agriculture which might take longer than expected with the fear of worker abuse
Let’s have a look at some substitutions to be working in Australia.
- 408 Pandemic Event visa - lists Agriculture as a critical sector.
This visa is suitable for onshore applicants who do not have other options to stay in Australia and unable to depart Australia.
You will be given a 12-month stay if you are working in Agriculture and have the right to apply for the second one.
This visa has helped many international workers stay in Australia legally and work full-time for as many employers as possible throughout the pandemic time.
- Working holiday makers visa 462 / Visa 417
Working holiday makers visas are the main streams for backpackers worldwide to come and work in the agriculture sector.
Government announces the easing of the program by allowing workers to work for longer than six months for any one employer.
WHM can stay in Australia for at least 3 years without a pathway to permanent residency.
However, there is a limitation in the number of laborers arriving in Australia each year from Southeast Asian countries.
- Student Visa subclass 500
International students can work for more than 40 hours per fortnight during their study period working in agriculture.
By studying courses in Australia combined with the work in agriculture sectors, you might have an opportunity to get a skilled visa or employer sponsor visa, which leads to Permanent Residency.
Should we wait for Agriculture visa or aim for another options?
YES ! You should wait for it. Even though there is a stumbling block in the middle, but the Australia Government has been actively pushing the possibility of Agriculture visa and set to be open in April 2022.
However, the options we recommend above is actually a good option and it can be suitable for some applicants who really wants to come to Australia soon.
Speak with us about the options.