Your Australia Working Holiday Visa (WHV) comes with a few strings attached, including a 6-month work limitation. Basically, the conditions of your visa limit you to a maximum period of six months’ work with any one employer. However, there are several (legal!) ways around it.
Over the past few years, new rules have been implemented and some may allow you to work longer than six months with one employer.
Understand the visa condition
The 6-month work limitation applies to all types of contracts—full time, part time, occasional and even volunteer work.
“Same employer” or “one employer” means the business or organization for which you are working directly. For instance, if you use a staffing agency to find contract, the staffing agency isn’t your directly employer so you can use them for more than six months. However, if one staffing agency offers you a six-month contract for one employer and another staffing agency offers you an additional four-month contract for that same employer, you can’t accept the second contract, otherwise, you will be in breach of your visa conditions.
The information in this article applies to Working Holiday Visa — Subclass 417 holders and Work and Holiday — Subclass 462 holders.
Visa condition exception #1 — Work in certain industries in northern Australia only
Northern Australia is actively looking for workers in certain industries, so WHV holders are welcome to work more than six months for the same employer in the following industries:
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- Tourism and hospitality
- Aged Care and Disability Services
Northern Australia includes the Northern Territory, as well as Western Australia’s and Queensland’s areas north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Eligible areas have the following postal codes:
Queensland — 4472, 4478, 4481 to 4482, 4680, 4694 to 4695, 4697, 4699 to 4707, 4709 to 4714, 4717, 4720 to 4728, 4730 to 4733, 4735 to 4746, 4750 to 4751, 4753 to 4754, 4756 to 4757, 4798 to 4800, 4801 to 4812, 4814 to 4825, 4828 to 4830, 4849 to 4850, 4852, 4854 to 4856, 4858 to 4861, 4865, 4868 to 4888, 4890 to 4892 and 4895
Western Australia — 0872, 6537, 6642, 6646, 6701, 6705, 6707, 6710 to 6714, 6716, 6718, 6720 to 6722, 6725, 6726, 6728, 6740, 6743, 6751, 6753, 6754, 6758, 6760, 6762, 6765 and 6770.
Eligible areas are in green on the map below.
Visa condition exception #2 — Au pair with a family
As of July 21, 2015, au pairs (who must secure a WHV for the job) may be allowed to work for the same family for up to a year. However, you must request permission to extend the employment period.
Visa condition exception #3 – Exceptional circumstances, critical work and pending visa application
You may request an employment period extension—usually a few days or weeks—under “exceptional circumstances,” defined as:
- A project taking longer than usual where your contribution is critical, e.g. a lawyer on an extended trial.
- Being a full-time employee and waiting for a decision to be made on another Australia visa application, e.g. a Temporary Skill Shortage — Subclass 482 visa or a Partner Visa.
Note that in all cases, you must request permission to work longer than six months for the same employer, and it’s not always granted.
Visa condition exception #4 — Same employer, different locations and addresses
WHV holders in Australia can work for the same employer for more than six months if they change location after the first six months.
- You’re working for Down Under Inc. at the head office, in Sydney. After six months, you can keep on working for Down Under Inc. if you’re transferred to their other location in Melbourne.
- You’re working for Hungry Mary, a booming fast food franchise with locations all over the country. Feel free to flip burgers in Perth, Darwin, Adelaide and Surfers Paradise for up to a year!
Visa condition exception #5 – Plant and animal cultivation work anywhere in Australia
As of November 2018, WHV holders can work for the same employer for the 12 months of their visa without seeking permission to extend the employment period as long as they work in the plant and animal cultivation industry.
Eligible jobs include:
- harvesting and/or packing fruit and vegetable crops
- pruning and trimming vines and trees
Note: This must be your primary employment task and directly associated with the cultivation and commercial sale of plant produce, such as fruit and nut crops (commercial horticultural activities). General garden maintenance is not eligible.
- general maintenance crop work
- cultivating or propagating plants, fungi or their products or parts
- immediate processing of plant products
- maintaining animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce, including natural increase Note: Maintaining animals for tourism or recreational purposes is not eligible.
- immediate processing of animal products including shearing, butchery, packing and tanning. Note: Secondary processing of animal products, such as small goods processing and retail butchery, is not eligible.
- manufacturing dairy produce from raw material
What do I have to do to extend the employment period?
For exceptions 1, 4 and 5, you don’t need to ask the Department of Home Affairs permission to work with the same employer for up to 12 months.
For exceptions 2 and 3, you must apply for permission to work longer than six months with one employer:
- Fill in Form 1445
- Attach a letter of support from your employer
- Email or mail your request (requests sent by email will be processed faster)
Direct your request to: [email protected] (Subject: Employment Extension)
Attention: Employment Extension Delegate
Working Holiday Visa Processing Centre
Brisbane State Office
Department of Home Affairs
GPO Box 9984
BRISBANE QLD 4001
Note: Requests should be submitted at least 2 weeks before the expiry of the 6 months.
There is no fee to request permission.
For general enquiries, call 131 881.
Main articles about the WHV to Australia
16 Good Reasons to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday Visa Adventure as a Solo Traveller
Applying for a Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) To Australia: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide with Screenshots
Globe WHV insurance policy highlights
Your first steps in Australia with a Working Holiday Visa
15 Tips for a Successful WHV Experience
Working in Australia: Opportunities, tips for backpackers and job search advice
Fruit Picking Jobs in Australia: What, Where, How (and Why!)