Australia and Iberian Nations Strike Visa Deal

The governments of both Australia and Portugal signed up to a reciprocal Work and Holiday visa deal. Under the so-called subclass 462 of the current regulations an arrangement has been made which means that young adults from either nation will soon be able mix a working visit with a holiday one. According to the Australian government, the deal – which was signed in late September – will allow individuals to, “experience the once in a lifetime possibility of working and holidaying in each other’s country.” The arrangement will mean that holiday visas for anyone aged between the years of 18 and 30 could also permit work and would be able to last for up to 12 months.  Making Australian young men very happy indeed!

Portugal heads down under

Under the programme, no less than 200 places will be put on offer for each country’s young adults every calendar year. The Work and Holiday visa does require some eligibility criteria, however, and will not be open to everybody who happens to fall into the qualifying age group category. A start date for the programme has yet to be determined but a further announcement has been promised by each government through their respective websites and via social media channels. However, the Australian government did say that, “in the coming months, we will work closely with Portugal to implement the necessary legal and administrative structures to bring this visa into being.”

The deal with the Portuguese authorities seems to be something of a trend for the Australian government, which has been mired in several negative media stories about its attitude to migration in recent years. Earlier in September, Spain and Australia announced that they would be starting another reciprocal scheme of their own. Just weeks before the announcement was made jointly with the Portuguese government, Australian officials said that they would issue up to a maximum of 500 temporary visas to young Spanish visitors. Under this separate deal made with the Spanish government, year-long visas will also be issued but these will allow multiple entries and departures to and from Australian soil.

Under the scheme, which is referred to as the Accord for a Youth Mobility Programme, young Australians will also be allowed to enter Spain on like terms. According to the authorities, the idea of the programme is to facilitate travel for both tourism and professional reasons. The scheme is open to young people who want to, “develop their life experiences, hone foreign language skills and gain experience in the workplace.”

Unlike the programme arranged with Portugal, the Spanish agreement was signed in Canberra by Spain’s Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo. The minister, who was on an official visit to the southern hemisphere country in early September, put his name to the deal along with Scott Morrison, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Border protection. The programme was later published on the Spanish Official State Bulletin on 19th September.

According to Spain’s official announcement, the objective of the agreement on temporary migration between the two countries is to better “mutual understanding” and to further “knowledge”. The reason for travelling such a long way, for those taking part in the programme, “can be either tourism or the acquisition of professional experience,” the bulletin continues. However, the programme agreed by Spain and Australia can be suspended temporarily at any point in the future. This may be done either fully or in part for things like security or health problems. Potential suspensions will be arranged through the usual diplomatic means.

The agreement states that these work and play visas will only be granted following a direct request from people in the reciprocating country. The beneficiaries of such visas will need to be full citizens and to hold a valid passport. In addition, they will be required to be in possession of a return ticket – or be able to prove that they have sufficient funds to be able to buy one. In a further restriction on who may be eligible, prospective visitors will be required to demonstrate that they have enough money to live for the duration of their intended stay. Furthermore, individuals who successfully obtain a visa under the scheme will need to purchase medical insurance which will cover any hospital treatment they might need whilst overseas. Finally, prospective visa applicants will need to show that they have completed at least two years of higher education.

Whilst working in the host country during their stay, jobs will be restricted to a maximum of six months for any single employer. However, visitors will be allowed to attend educational or training courses so long as they do not exceed four months study in total.

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