The Federal Government has amended the Migration Regulations to create the Australian Agriculture Worker Visa (Ag Visa) to provide for a vital agriculture visa to help secure the future of rural and regional Australia.
The Ag Visa release was spurred on by the recent UK free trade negotiations to not only secure better market access for Australian farmers but also as an opportunity to finally secure an Agricultural Visa.
The Ag Visa will be the biggest structural change to agricultural workforce in our nation’s history, and will also be available to the fisheries, forestry and agricultural processing sectors and will target seasonal workers, skilled and semiskilled workers.
This is expected to bring the next generations of migrants to not just grow agriculture but regional Australia.
Our agriculture industry and primary producers have always kept us and the world fed and clothed, but they have done so under workforce constraints.
The creation of the Ag visa under the Migration Regulations is landmark moment for the sector and delivers on our promise to have it in place this year.
The Ag Visa will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for our critical industries while solving one of regional Australia’s greatest challenges in recent history.
It will be open to applicants from a range of countries and will complement the Pacific programs already in place which have been critical in supporting our primary industries to date.
The Pacific will remain the key pathway for the sector to access workers for this harvest, with the government committing to double the number of Pacific workers in Australia by March 2022.
The regulation provides an additional Agriculture Worker stream which will provide for the entry and temporary stay of workers across primary industries sectors.
This provides the pathway for workers to arrive with first worker arrivals once partner country negotiations are complete.
Any workers will also need to meet necessary Federal and State quarantine requirements.
Further details and a fact sheet are available here.
How the Ag Worker Visa will operate
- The Migration Amendment (Australian Agriculture Workers) Regulations 2021 amends the Migration Regulations 1994 and:
o Creates a new Australian Agriculture Worker Stream in the Subclass (Temporary Work (International Relations)) visa;
o The new visa stream comes into effect on 30 September 2021;
o Provides for the entry and temporary stay of workers across primary industries sectors; and
o Be available to workers from countries that where there is a bilateral agreement in place.
- The Ag visa will be operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, leveraging their experience managing the successful Pacific Labour Scheme.
- The Department of Home Affairs and Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will provide operational support to ensure a high degree of integrity and that the needs of the agriculture and primary industry sectors are being met.
- An independent review of the program will be undertaken after two years.