Recently, I received a phone call from an anxious young Salesman (let’s call him Ben), asking for migration advice. Ben had just realised that he has been working for the same company for nearly 6 months. Usually this wouldn’t ring any alarm bells.
However, Ben has been in Australia on a Working Holiday visa. As such, he was not allowed to work for the same employer for longer than 6 months. Ben enjoyed his job but didn’t want to breach his visa conditions. Fortunately for him, I was able to help him solve his predicament. How? I was just about to tell you.
A bit of background
There are over 130,000 Working Holiday makers in Australia on subclass 417 and 462 visas at any point in time. Many of them stay for 2 or 3 years after doing their farm/regional work. Many Working holiday makers end up migrating to Australia and become Australians themselves. Working Holiday visas are essential for Australia’s tourism and agriculture sectors. One important feature of all WHV (and some Bridging visas) is Condition 8547, better known as a ‘the 6 months rule’. It dictates that:
“The holder must not be employed by any 1 employer for more than 6 months, without the prior permission in writing of the Secretary.”
The idea behind this rule is to keep WHV holders from taking permanent jobs away from Australians. However, having to change jobs every 6 months can cause major issues to visa holders and employers alike. Luckily, there are exceptions to this rule so you may be able to keep your job.
The 6 months rule resets once a new visa comes into effect. For example, if you were granted a second WHV, you will get fresh 6 months to work as you please. This is also the case with Bridging visas which are subject to Condition 8547. Remember, the new visa must be in effect to reset the 6 months clock!
Location, location, location
You can continue working for the same employer for up to 12 months if you work at different locations. For example, you can work for the same restaurant chain at different locations. Just make sure you do not exceed 6 months at each location.
Same but different
If your employer has more than one ABN (Australian Business Number), then employing you via another ABN would generally be considered as working for different employers.
You’re the boss
If you are self-employed, you can provide services to the same business for more than six months as long as you provide services to other businesses at the same time.
You can work for up to a year for the same employer anywhere in Australia if you perform plant or animal farming. Note: Maintaining animals for tourism or recreational purposes is not eligible.
Top End (and beyond)
The 6 months rule does not apply to work in certain industries in the Northern Territory and parts of northern Queensland and Western Australia. Those industries are:
Aged Care and Disability Services
Fishing and pearling
Tree farming and felling
Tourism and Hospitality
Additional requirements apply to each industry and postcodes are specified for eligible work locations on the Department of Home Affairs website.
Ben’s employer was able to transfer him to a different office which solved his predicament. Still searching for a solution to your situation? There is one more way you could keep your job for longer than 6 months. In part 2 of this post, I will discuss the waiver application and who might be eligible for it. Subscribe below to receive it in your inbox.
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