Let’s start with some background on why and how visa extension came about:

Visa extension came about in 2005 in response to a lack of staff in regional areas, primarily in agriculture. Farmers needed staff and backpackers needed jobs, but backpackers weren’t staying long enough to complete a full harvest season on a farm. The government decided to offer an incentive for backpackers on a 417 Working Holiday visa. The incentive was for 417 visa holders who completed 88 days of regional agricultural work to be rewarded with the option of a 2nd year Working Holiday visa. Farmers get staff and backpackers get to stay longer in Australia; it’s a win-win!

In November 2016, the government introduced the option of a 2nd year Working Holiday visa for 462 visa holders who completed 88 days of regional work in the Northern Territory and certain parts of northern Western Australia and Queensland. The specified industries include agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and hospitality.

On July 1st 2019, a 3rd year Working Holiday visa was introduced to 417 & 462 visa holders who carry out 6 months of specified work in regional areas while on their 2nd year Working Holiday visa.

Two subclass Working Holiday visas – 417 & 462

A 417 Working Holiday visa is available to passport holders from:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan (other than an official or diplomatic passport)
  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Note: You must be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) – except for Canadian, French and Irish citizens who can be 18 to 35 years old (inclusive)

A 462 Working Holiday visa is available to passport holders from:

  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Chile
  • China, People’s Republic of
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Dlovenia
  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Uruguay
  • United States of America
  • Vietnam

Note: You must be aged 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) when you apply.

Visa extension work is different for 417 and 462 visas

Work that qualifies as visa extension must be two things:

Specified work – this means a job undertaken in a specified industry

In a regional area – this means a job undertaken in a specified postcode

*Specified industries and postcodes are different for 417 & 462 visa holders

417 visa specified work & postcodes: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/what-we-do/whm-program/specified-work-conditions/specified-work-417

462 visa specified work & postcodes: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/what-we-do/whm-program/specified-work-conditions/specified-work-462

So why can people on a 462 visa do tourism and hospitality work as visa extension and not people on a 417 visa?

It’s hard for tourism and hospitality employers in Northern Australia to attract staff for their businesses. It’s remote and can be hot and humid for most of the year. To get more staff, businesses wanted to add tourism and hospitality to the list of specified industries. Many people in the agriculture industry opposed this. They feared backpackers would choose hospitality work over farm work if given the option to do either for their visa extension. The Australian Government came up with a compromise. They offered tourism and hospitality as specified work for 462 visa holders but only within Northern Australia. Northern tourism businesses get more staff, and there are still plenty of 417 visa holders who continue to do seasonal agricultural work.

To be clear, working in tourism and hospitality does not count as visa extension for 417 Working Holiday visa holders.

Contact the Department of Home Affairs (formerly named the Department of Immigration) by ringing 131 881 with any questions. Just be ready to wait on hold for a while! Alternatively, visit their website for a full overview: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/what-we-do/whm-program/overview