Can I work more than 6 months for one employer on my working holiday visa?

Just like the expression widely known in the real estate industry says, the answer is: location, location, location! Depending on where you work, you might be able to remain with the same employer for more than 6 months on a working holiday visa. This is due to recent changes introduced by the Australian Government.

Generally speaking, however, the current extension requirements and the 6-months restriction to working with the same employer are still in place. This means that, for example, if you are working at your neighbourhood bakery and want to extend your contract beyond 6 months, unless your contract falls under the changes newly introduced, you must obtain special permission from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (Form 1445). The Department may grant you permission or deny it.

Now, what are these changes? This is where things get interesting! The Australian Government has brought about significant flexibility to the work holiday program. Depending on which industry your employer is in and where the services and business are delivered, you may be allowed to keep working for more than 6 months without the need to apply for special permission.

Let’s give you an example. If you work for a hotel, a resort or, say, a chain of restaurants, then you will be able to work for more than 6 months, as long you work at a different facility or branch – in a different location. The same applies to independently owned franchises. As long as your workplace has a different address and you are within the total 12-month maximum period limitation of your working holiday visa, you can benefit from this change.

When thinking about location, it is important to bear in mind that all types of work you have done during the first 6 months must be taken into account: full-time, part-time, casual, shift, and even voluntary work. Training offered by your employer at a certain location will affect your eligibility as well. Regardless of the number of hours of work you intend to commit to in your new ‘extension phase’, your workplace will have to be located elsewhere if your idea is to work for the same employer beyond the initial 6 months.

The new ‘location rule’ applies to Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) and Working Holiday visa (subclass 417). More information about these visas can be found on the Department of Home Affairs’s website. Both visas have the same goal: to allow young people to work and visit Australia. Visas 462 and 417 have a few differences. They are available to nationals of different countries, require different levels of education and language, among other distinctions.

Finally, the change newly introduced only applies to those who are thinking about working for the same employer on an existing visa. In a situation where a second working holiday visa is lodged and granted for a further 6 months, then it is possible to return to the same employer just like when the first visa was granted. No location limitation applies. The 6 months limitation resets once the 2nd visa is granted.

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