Australia will refund travel visas on working holidays if you visit in 2022

Feb 4, 2022

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Backpackers rejoice! Australia has promised to refund travel visas for working holidays… so long as you’re headed there in the next few months.

Currently, a working holiday visa allows fully vaccinated travellers to travel to Australia, and work for the same employer for more than six months, up to 31 December, without needing special permission.

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Since 1975, the scheme has offered school leavers the chance to swan off into the big brave world with little more than the shirt on their back, a pristine copy of On the Road in their bag and a thirst for adventure and fish-bowl cocktails.

Known in official circles as the “Subclass 417” visa – but to those in the know, just the “backpacker’s visa” – it allows travellers between 18 and 30 to mix short-term jobs in the country with travel and study.

The scheme was shut down when the pandemic led the Australian government to close its borders in one of the strictest COVID-19 border policies the world has seen.

Related: Australia is reopening to international travellers this month

But prime minister Scott Morrison this week announced its reopening with the words all school leavers love to hear: “We’ve opened the borders to backpackers.”

Speaking to a Queensland radio station, he added: “We’re also now providing a rebate, if they come in the next three months.

“They will get their visa application fee refunded when they get here.”

The news comes days after the Australian government revealed it may finally reopen its borders to all foreigners from April after almost two years of isolation.

Related: 8 common misconceptions about visiting Australia

Since March 2020, the Land Down Under has been all but closed off to foreign tourists, in one of the strictest and most sustained COVID-19 border policies the world has seen during the pandemic.

At first, Australia would not even allow its own citizens to leave.

That then changed in October last year as the first Australians were stepped back out into the world after almost two years of international isolation.

And this week, the news finally came that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was considering allowing foreign visitors back into Australia, possibly in time for Easter.

The allowance would effectively mean that those on a working holiday can now travel to any of the Australian states and territories ahead of tourists, business people and family visitors.

It allows young people to work for up to 12 months in any sector, anywhere in Australia, except Western Australia which is still under a strict lockdown.

“If you apply for the visa while you are 30, but turn 31 before we have made a decision, we can still grant you the visa,” say the Australian authorities.

The visa application charge (VAC) is A$495 (£265). But, according to the new rules, you can have that fully refunded if you arrive before 19 April 2022.

For detailed information on how to apply and the criteria applicants must meet, visit Australia’s immigration website, or the country’s tourist board website.

It comes as Qatar Airways announced plans to ramp up its flight schedule to Brisbane to a daily schedule from March 1 to match its roster to Sydney and Melbourne. Economy flights from London Heathrow to Brisbane start from around £450 one-way.

Meanwhile, Etihad also announced this week that it will increase its routes to Sydney and Melbourne, including from U.K. airports.

Featured image by Anthony Devlin/PA Images.

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