The Australian Agriculture Visa program is being introduced to address workforce shortages in the agriculture sector by building on existing government programs. It is a long-term contribution to Australia’s labor supply, intended to support Australia’s agricultural and primary industry sectors as they strive to reach $100 billion in value by 2030. It is a stream of the Temporary Work (International Relations) subclass 403 visa.
- The program delivers on the Australian Government’s commitment to put in place a broad-ranging visa to support the growth of Australia’s agricultural industries.
- It will be available to employees across a range of agricultural sectors and skill levels.
- Australia has commenced discussions with a small number of countries in Southeast Asia with recruitment to start after negotiations are complete. Discussions with Indonesia are
advanced. Details are expected to be finalized shortly.
- The Agriculture Visa is a sponsored visa program, operating with approved employers and
robust worker protections.
- The program will provide flexibility for workers to move between approved employers
without compromising workforce standards and undermining worker protections.
- The Agriculture Visa program will supplement the existing Pacific Australia Labour Mobility
scheme (PALM scheme). The PALM scheme will remain the primary scheme for meeting agricultural workforce shortages.
How is the Agriculture Visa program being implemented?
- The Agriculture Visa program is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) leveraging its experience with the successful PALM scheme.
- The Department of Home Affairs is responsible for processing all visa and sponsorship applications, as well as providing operational support with the Australian Border Force to ensure ongoing visa integrity.
- The Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment is responsible for ensuring that the needs of relevant primary industry sectors are being met.
- The Fair Work Ombudsman is responsible for ensuring employee protection and upholding workers’ rights.
What sectors and skills are covered by the Agriculture Visa program?
- The Agriculture Visa program will support the recruitment of employees across a range of agriculture sectors, including horticulture, dairy, wool, grains, fisheries (including aquaculture), and forestry, including support services and primary processing.
- The Agriculture Visa program will target skilled, semi-skilled, and low-skilled employees within specified occupations across these sectors.
- In the initial phase, recruitment will focus on lower-skilled occupations, and this will be expanded as the program evolves.
- Employees must have the experience and/or qualifications to commence work at the skill level and occupation for which they are recruited (where relevant).
How do I become an approved employer under the Agriculture Visa program? What is the process for recruiting employees?
- The Agriculture Visa is a managed (sponsored) visa. Employers directly recruiting employees from overseas will need to be approved to participate in the program as a Temporary Activity Sponsor (TAS) under the Migration Regulations 1994.
- – FormoreinformationonTASsee:BecomeasponsorTemporaryactivities sponsor (homeaffairs.gov.au).
- Employers who wish to employ agriculture visa holders who are already in Australia need to be approved to participate in the program but are not required to be a TAS.
What are the requirements for being employed under the Agriculture Visa program?
- Initial applications from workers to participate in the Agriculture Visa program will need to be completed offshore.
- Applicants must meet the following criteria to be able to participate in the Agriculture Visa program:
- Have the necessary skills to perform in the occupation in which they are being employed (where relevant);
- Have minimum English language skills (International English Language Testing System (IELTS) average band score of 4.0 (or equivalent), or higher when the specific occupation requires it;
- Be unaccompanied (participants will not be able to bring family members);
- Meet the minimum age requirement of 21 years of age with no maximum age requirement;
- Meet the criteria for the grant of an Australian Agriculture Worker stream visa, including:
- Being sponsored to Australia by a Temporary Activities Sponsor (TAS) who is an employer approved by DFAT to participate in the program;
- Being supported by DFAT to participate in the program;
- Meeting all character and health requirements;
- Having adequate health insurance for the period of stay in Australia.