The Federal Government has announced that it is providing more flexibility to encourage temporary visa holders to support Australian farmers struggling to find workers during Covid-19.
This means that if they are working in the agriculture sector, student visa holders will be permitted to work more than the usual 40 hours per fortnight limit during semesters.
Bumper crops expected but insufficient workers
“This builds on changes earlier this year for international students working in the health and aged care sector, and demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting Australian farmers and visa holders wishing to take on more work while they live and study here,” explained agriculture minister David Littleproud.
“Many regions are expecting bumper crops this year, but with Covid-19 travel restrictions on international movement, there still aren’t enough workers available.
“This complements a range of other workforce measures we are delivering to support farmers this harvest season,” the minister said.
Government says it is ‘listening to Aussie farmers’
Meanwhile, immigration minister Alex Hawke said the changes would not just give temporary visa holders the ability to earn more income, they would also help farmers this harvest season and avoid food going to waste.
“Australians will always get priority for jobs under this government, but we’re listening to farmers who have been clear that they need many more workers and they need them now,” Hawke stated.
“These temporary visa holders are already in Australia [and] many do not want to, or cannot, go home and they will be greatly valued in the agriculture sector.”
Other temporary visa holders can get more work
According to the minister, it will also be easier for temporary visa holders to access the Covid-19 Pandemic Event Visa if they choose to work in the agriculture sector.
They can now apply for the Covid-19 visa up to 90 days before their existing visa runs out and they do not need to demonstrate their attempts to depart Australia. More than 5,600 Pandemic Event Visas have already been granted to support the agriculture sector since they were made available in April 2020.
Harvest Trail Services – administered by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment – will assist temporary visa holders to find harvest work, while continuing its focus on linking Australian jobseekers with jobs in regional horticulture areas.