A Complete Guide to the Australian Second Year Visa

I’ve just begun the epic struggle for my second working holiday visa in Australia. The days are long, the work is monotonous, and the pay ain’t all that great. But it’s worth it, if I want to stay in this beautiful country another year.

(I do.)

Thousands of backpackers go through the second year visa process every year. But a lot of people are mixed up about exactly what you have to do, where you have to do it, and how to get the whole thing sorted out.

Seeing as there’s not much to do in the evenings in the small, country town I currently call home, I thought I’d while away the hours writing up a detailed post on exactly how to go about getting your second year visa.

Yep, I really know how to have fun.

Anyways.

This guide will cover:

  • Who can get a second year visa

  • What counts as regional work

  • Where you can complete your regional work

  • The system of approval (including how to calculate your 88 days)

  • How to find regional work

Before I start, I should clarify that there are other ways of getting extra time in Australia, which I won’t cover in this post. You can come back on a tourist visa, or enrol in some kind of course and get a student visa, or you can get a de facto visa if you have a partner who is a resident.

I know next to nothing about any of these, so if you’re looking for that info then you’re in the wrong place!

Now without further ado, let’s talk visas!

Who can get a second year visa?

The second working holiday is available for people who are on the Working Holiday (417) and, as of November 2016, the Work and Holiday (462) visa. There are slightly different criteria for the type of work that can qualify towards the second year for these two visas.

As with the first working holiday, you must be between the ages of 18 and 31 in order to qualify (though this may change in the near future). Currently, if you apply before your 31st birthday, you can still get a second year.

In order to qualify for a second year visa, you must complete three calendar months, or 88 days, of ‘specified’ work in ‘regional’ Australia. That’s the wording used on the Australian government website.

Below I will explain what this extremely vague phrase means, in the case of each of these visas.

Check out my earlier post on Working Holidays to clarify which visa you are on, if you don’t already know

What counts as ‘specified’ work?

So first, what exactly does ‘specified’ work mean? Well, this varies slightly depending on which visa you are on.

For subclass 417 visas, you can do any of the following:

  • Plant and animal cultivation
  • Fishing and pearling
  • Tree farming and felling
  • Mining
  • Construction

Whereas if you’re on the 462 visa, you can do any of the following:

  • Plant and animal cultivation
  • Fishing and Pearling
  • Tree farming and felling
  • Tourism and hospitality

These are the only accepted forms of work which will qualify you to get a second year visa.

If you’re on a 417 visa, bar work in a rural pub does not count.

If you’re on the 462 visa, working as an au pair on a property with a farm does not qualify.

(There are plenty more examples like this, but you get the idea. Only work on the list counts.)

However, clearly it is difficult (if not impossible) to prove what work you have or have not been doing. If you payslip comes from a chicken farm, it will look like you have been working in ‘animal cultivation’. If your payslip comes from a fishing company, it will look like you have been working in the fishing industry.

Basically, it would be very difficult for the department of immigration to prove that you have not been doing what you are supposed to, if the area code fits. If your pay slip comes from somewhere with the Australian business number (ABN) of a farm, unless it specifically states that you have been looking after kids rather than, say, cattle, it is unlikely that they will query it. That’s all I’m saying.

This is not to say that I recommend trying to get around it. You always run the risk that the government will request further proof of your work, or somehow find you out. And working for three months in the middle of nowhere, only to find that you aren’t allowed another year, would kinda suck.

Where you can complete your regional work

Okay, so ‘regional’ in this context has a pretty broad definition. What it actually means is, work in an area which has been arbitrarily selected by the Australian government to be considered regional.

In this context, Adelaide is considered regional. Darwin is regional. The entirety of Tasmania is regional. Whatever.

Again, there is a difference between qualifying areas for 417 and 462 visas. Basically, the 462 visa counts anything above the Tropic of Capricorn (the northern half of the country), whereas the 417 visa has a bit more to choose from.

The acceptable postcodes for the 417 visa are:

  • Queensland:

4124 to 4125, 4133, 4211, 4270 to 4272, 4275, 4280, 4285, 4287, 4307 to 4499, 4510, 4512, 4515 to 4519, 4522 to 4899

(This excludes the Brisbane area and the Gold Coast)

  • New South Wales

2311 to 2312, 2328 to 2411, 2420 to 2490, 2536 to 2551, 2575 to 2594, 2618 to 2739, 2787 to 2899

(This excludes Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Central Coast)

  •  Victoria

3139, 3211 to 3334, 3340 to 3424, 3430 to 3649, 3658 to 3749, 3753, 3756, 3758, 3762, 3764, 3778 to 3781, 3783, 3797, 3799, 3810 to 3909, 3921 to 3925,3945 to 3974, 3979, 3981 to 3996

(This excludes the Melbourne area)

  • Tasmania

All of Tasmania is considered regional Australia.

  • South Australia

All of South Australia is considered regional Australia

  • Western Australia

6041 to 6044, 6055 to 6056, 6069, 6076, 6083 to 6084, 6111, 6121 to 6126, 6200 to 6799

(This excludes Perth and surrounding areas)

  • Northern Territory

All of the Northern Territory is considered regional Australia.

Note: None of Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is eligible for second year visa work.

 

The accepted postcodes for the 462 visa are:

  • Queensland

4699 to 4707, 4709 to 4712, 4717, 4720 to 4721, 4723 to 4728, 4730, 4732 to 4733, 4735, 4737 to 4746, 4750 to 4751, 4753 to 4754, 4756 to 4757, 4798 to 4800, 4801 to 4812​​, 4814 to 4825, 4828 to 4830, 4849 to 4850, 4852, 4854 to 4856, 4858 to 4861, 4865, 4868 to 4888, 4890 to 4892, 4895

  • Northern Territory

All of the Northern Territory is considered regional Australia

  • Western Australia

0872, 6537, 6642, 6646, 6701, 6705, 6707, 6710 to 6714, 6716, 6718, 6720 to 6722, 6725 to 6726, 6728, 6740, 6743, 6751, 6753 to 6754, 6758, 6760, 6762, 6765, 6770

Note: only postcodes/areas above the Tropic of Capricorn, i.e. in the northern half of Australia, are eligible for second year visa work for the 462 visa.

How to find the elusive regional work

The magic of the internet means that there are soooooooooooooooooo many ways to go about finding your regional work. The list I provide here probably isn’t exhaustive, but if you don’t find something using one of these methods and/or websites, then you’re doing something wrong!

It’s worth saying up front that it is BEYOND useful to have a car in this whole process. Not only does it mean you’re more flexible in getting to potentially remote locations, and moving to where the work is, it’s also often a specified criterion of some job adverts. Plus, once you’ve found farm work, a car is SO useful in SO many ways – for entertainment on days off, a way of getting to the shops if you live in the middle of nowhere, and a potential source of income if you are giving people lifts to work.

Facebook groups

Australia is the first place I have found where Facebook has been a hugely useful tool. There are absolutely loads of groups and pages out there, brimming with advice. For regional work, a few good places to start are:

Australia Backpackers

Farmwork Australia

Fruit Picking Jobs

There are more, but a quick search will lead you to them straight away.

Be aware that loads of people will probably be posting about the same thing, so try searching through a few of the old posts to see what people have said.

Gumtree

Gumtree is a fantastic resource for many things, and job seeking is one of them. You can either advertise your own services, or browse through adverts relevant to the area you are looking to work in. Many employers don’t bother putting opportunities up anywhere else, especially if they are only looking for one or two workers.

It goes without saying, of course, that you should always be careful when using this method. Use your instincts, withhold personal information, and if it sounds dodgy it probably is!

Backpacker Job Board

The clue for this website is in the name. This site doesn’t exclusively advertise regional work opportunities, but there are usually quite a lot to be found. Often the advertisers will specify whether the work qualifies for the second year visa.

Job websites (Seek, Indeed, TheJobShop)

As with any other job, you can find regional work on any of the above job websites (and probably any more you’d care to name). Largely the jobs advertised on Seek and Indeed will require some kind of experience, though, so bear that in mind if you don’t have any!

Working Hostels

If you’ve exhausted all the online options, another route to go down is finding work through a working hostel. There are plenty of these out there. Just Google the state you are looking to find work in + working hostel: easy peasy. The advantage here is that the work is done for you (so to speak). Working hostels will usually have a good relationship with local farms and other employers, so if you time it right there will be plenty of opportunity. Plus, they are usually full of other backpackers in a similar position, so they are an easy place to make new pals.

I would strongly advise phoning or emailing ahead before you rock up, though. Obviously there is no point travelling all the way there if there isn’t any work!

Local Tourist Information

Finally, it’s always worth asking in at the trusty Tourist Information office of whatever town you are in. They might have information that isn’t readily available online, and again may have contacts that you can make use of. You can also ask about working hostels here – not all of them advertise online.

Plus, the people that work in Tourist Information offices are usually lovely and eager to help!

A post shared by ellie // 🏔 (@gradgoneglobal) on

The system of approval

Once you’ve found the right kind of job in the right kind of place, you need to make sure that you get the right number of days for your second year to be approved.

This is the tricky bit.

There are two ways that you can get the required number of days for your second visa. Either:

  1. Work full-time, continuously for a period of three calendar months
  2. Work non-continuously, for a cumulative total of 88 individual days

(Fun fact: the reason it’s 88 days is because that is the combined length of the shortest three-month period.)

Option a) is obviously a bit simpler. It’s easier to keep track if you are working for one employer, of course. And there is another perk: if you work full time, you are able to include days off in your total days.

Full time is roughly 35-40 hours a week, depending on what industry you are in. If, for example, you work five days a week for eight hours a day, that fills the full time criteria, and you can then include your weekends when counting up your days. So, your ‘88 days’ could theoretically be completed in just over 12 and a half weeks, with you only actually working roughly 64 days.

This rule follows whatever the usual pattern of work is for the industry you are in. For example, if you work in the fishing or pearling industry, and spend multiple days at a time at sea, followed by multiple days at a time at home, these days off would also count. This rule works as long as the employer is satisfied that for that period of work, you have worked the equivalent of full time hours for that industry.

This is the relevant section of the immigration website:

specified work screenshot

Option b) is where most backpackers end up, for one reason or another, and this is where things get a bit complicated. I will do my best to state the rules in simple terms.

Farm work, by its nature, is very season-dependent, and often somewhat unreliable. If the weather is bad, you might get some unexpected days off. Sometimes the season starts unusually late or finishes unusually early. Depending on your timing, you might start work at the end of the season, and have to move to another farm or another job, or the work might dry up for another reason.

Unfortunately, the Australian government aren’t very accommodating to this. So, if you are off work due to sickness or bad weather, you cannot count these days towards your total.

This, people, is why they say you should start your regional work sooner rather than later. 88 days may not be all that much, but it is actually a hell of a long time when you are only able to work in certain conditions.

However, the good news is that if you are working full time, even if it is for less than three months, you are still able to count weekends towards your days, as outlined in the screenshot above. For any given block of work, that rule should still apply. Say you work eight weeks full time for one employer, and five further weeks full time for another, it seems that you should still be able to count your weekends.

Moving on, another criterion for working days to be counted is pay rate. You must be paid award wage or more in order for the days to count. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story about the girl who worked for four months and didn’t get her second year approved because she was getting paid too little.

Award wage differs for different industries, but you can check up on the appropriate wage using this link to the Fair Work Ombudsman. For most farm work, the basic award rate is now $18.29 per hour, which works out as a minimum wage of $695.02 per week (assuming that 38 hours are worked).

But to add to the confusion, the rules are slightly different if you are working a piece rate job. Piece rate means that you are paid depending on how much you pick, or equivalent (e.g. how many trees you plant, how many metres of vine you prune etc.)

Most backpackers will end up on a piece rate job at one time or another, so listen up.

First of all, if you are going to be working based on a piece rate, you are supposed to get this agreement in writing, before you start the job. This is so it can be used as evidence, should it be required, of you completing the appropriate work for the visa.

Secondly, the rate of pay, according to the government rules, should be such that an ‘average competent worker’ would be able to earn 15% above the minimum award hourly rate. For most farm work (as of July 2017, according to the Horticulture Award) this would be $18.29 + 15% = $20.55 per hour.

Note: this wage is if you are working full or part time, rather than casual. Australian law dictates that casual workers get an additional loading of 25% because of the unpredictable nature of casual work. In this case, the hourly rate would be $22.13. However, employers may deliberately choose to classify you as full or part time for this very reason!

Now you’re probably all sat there in horror, thinking that every day of piece rate work you have done now somehow doesn’t count. For those of you who have never done a piece rate job: just so you know, the money is almost always shitty.

However, DON’T PANIC. The reality is that there isn’t a way to prove whether you are an ‘average competent worker’ or not. So, if you aren’t getting paid as much as this, you can just argue that you were a rubbish worker, and therefore your days do count. You could point out the fact that other people you worked with would have earned the correct minimum.

The Fair Work website has this to say about piece rate work, which is very reassuring:

Points to draw out:

“there are many factors that affect what an average competent employee is”

“A pieceworker isn’t guaranteed a minimum hourly or weekly rate that applies to the type of work they do, or the national minimum wage.”

Therefore, there is no specific minimum that you have to be paid in order for your days to count. However, you should still make every effort to earn as close to the national minimum wage as possible, so it is clear that your job is fair and legal.

Obviously it will still be more ideal if you can earn more, then you won’t have to try to justify it (and plus you will have more money), but this is a good fall-back!

I’m largely just speculating here, but I can’t see how any other conclusion can be drawn. Trust me, I have read and re-read the government website.

The application process

Now, once you’ve sorted out how you’re getting your days done, you need to look ahead to the process of application.

All second years are processed online (yippee!), which makes things a hell of a lot easier. You just need to log in to the Department of Immigration website using your Immi account, and go from there.

Click here to apply for your second working holiday visa

It’s pretty straightforward. Fill in all of your personal information, answer the given questions, and put in the relevant dates and ABN numbers of the places you worked. Then hit apply and keep your fingers crossed!

Sometimes, the visa will be granted straight up. Like, within seconds of applying (they are very efficient when they want to be, the Australian government!).

However, often you will need to provide evidence that you have met the requirements. The government website lists the following as documents that may need to be provided:

  • pay slips or evidence of payment
  • copy of piece rate agreement
  • group certificates
  • payment summaries
  • tax returns
  • employer references
  • a completed employment verification form – this is form 1263 for visa 417, and 1464 for visa 462
  • copy of your Australian bank statement for the declared period of work

They do not always require all of these documents (thank goodness), but you might be unlucky. With this in mind, you might as well try to collate this evidence in advance of applying, especially if you’re going to apply a lot later on. It’s a lot easier to get employers to sign forms and provide references while you are still in the area, rather than off on holiday in Bali, for example.

When applying for your second year, you can either apply while you are still in Australia, or from elsewhere in the world. There are a couple of things to be aware of when making this decision.

First, whichever option you choose is where you have to be when the visa is granted. So if you apply in Australia, you have to be in Australia when it’s granted. If you apply outside of Australia, you have to stay out until it is granted. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if you apply while you’re here, you can’t leave – it just means that it won’t be granted while you are out of the country.

Secondly, if you apply whilst you are still in Australia, your second year will automatically follow directly on from your first. On the other hand, if you apply from elsewhere, the visa will begin whenever you re-enter the country (which has to be within a year from when it is granted). This is worth noting!

And as a note of reassurance, if you want to apply from within Australia, don’t panic – you won’t get kicked out even if you’re at the end of your first year! You will automatically get put onto a bridging visa, while they process and make a decision on your application.

 

OKAY AND WE ARE DONE THANK THE LORD.

If you read all the way through this then thank you and congratulations. If not, well, I totally get it.

But that’s it! Everything you need to know about getting your second working holiday visa. Hopefully this has ironed out any issues and clarified any confusion. I have done my very best, at least.

Got questions? Hit me up in the comments below! (I have read over the terms and conditions so many times now, I probably have the answer even if it’s not explained clearly here).

 

Want to know more about backpacking Australia?

Check out my 50 Budget Tips here

Have a read of my account of my first farming experience

Take a look at my healthy hostel meal inspiration

4 Comments

  1. Lucy June 28, 2017 at 1:18 PM

    Hi, I am working in a crab factory and there has been no work for 3 weeks now. The manager says we will still get signed off after 3 months though and these weeks off won’t affect it, do you know if this is correct?
    Thanks

    • Ellie June 28, 2017 at 11:23 PM

      Hi Lucy,

      I can’t say for sure but I would guess that if you are working full time and having this amount of time off is standard for the job you are in, it should be fine – especially if your manager said he will sign you off.

      However if this is not particularly normal, and you haven’t been working full time for the rest of it, it might be worth working an extra few weeks at the end just to be sure you’ve got the right number of days.

      The rules about this part are a bit unclear so it kind of has to be down to you to decide!

      Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  2. Lydia June 28, 2017 at 7:44 PM

    Hey, thank you so much for writing this article – it was really useful!

    I was hoping you would be able to answer a couple of questions for me-
    In terms of bar work not being an eligible form of work for the 417 visa, does that differ between nationalities? E.g. Are Americans able to do it but not Brits? I’m English and would far prefer bar work over tomatoes. Does it come down to whether the govt. check all the documents/evidence you send over at the end?
    How much is the second year visa?

    Thanks so much!
    Lydia

    • Ellie June 28, 2017 at 12:02 PM

      No problem, I’m so glad its helped!

      It differs between visas rather than nationalities – unfortunately Brits are under the 417 visa and Americans 462, and the 462 visa is the one where bar work counts! The 417 visa doesn’t include hospitality as one of the specified job types.

      As for the checking documents etc, they only check all your docs if your application is investigated. i.e. at first go, all you have to do is put in dates, location and farm ABN. Its only if they request it that you need to show pay slips, form 1263 etc.

      And the second year visa currently costs $390 I believe!

      Hope that helps 🙂

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