You are here

Interested in studying in Australia?

Check out our comprehensive guide!

How to Extend Your Australian Visa With Farm Work

How to Extend Your Australian Visa With Farm Work main image

Every backpacker on the 417 Working Holiday Visa has a decision to make. Around six months in, they must ask themselves - how badly do I want to stay another year? If it’s a ‘meh, I can leave after this year and not regret it’ - grand. Go on your merry way, live your best life, and always do it for the ‘gram. If the answer is ‘I absolutely cannot fathom leaving Australia this soon, how can I extend my visa’ - then the answer is simple. Do your farm work.

The Australian government stipulates that those on the 417 visa have to complete either three calendar months, or 88 days of regional specified work in an eligible industry such as farming, fishing, mining or construction. There are a number of rules and restrictions to bear in mind when sourcing your farm work, such as:

  • Is it in the correct postcode?
  • Is it the right type of work?
  • Is it above award pay?

These are, I think, the three most important questions when considering where and when to do your farm work. Read on for more info.

Is it in the correct postcode?

Certain areas of Australia are considered ‘regional’ by the government, such as all of Tasmania and Northern Territory. Other areas, such as the Australian Capital Territory, do not have any postcodes that are considered regional. In New South Wales, if you go above Sydney, you must travel further north than Newcastle - and still check postcodes, because some areas are just outside of what is allowed and what isn’t. You can view the full list of eligible postcodes here.

Is it the right type of work?

When people consider farm work, there automatic reaction is to think of fruit picking. A wise person once told me that if you have to do fruit picking for your 88 days, don’t pick a fruit you love.

However, there are plenty of different options for farm work, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be bananas in Innisfail.

If you’re lucky enough to have grown up on a farm, use this to your advantage - seek out somewhere you’d have experience in and call farms to see if they’d hire a visa sign off. If it’s a busy time of year, they’d probably be more than happy for an extra set of hands to help out.

Similarly, if you’re willing to do hard labor, why not consider livestock? It’s better pay and you’re guaranteed straight, steady work - meaning you can finish in your three months, and not have to count the individual 88 days. Google is your best friend here and there are loads of articles and help sites to help you get an idea of what is visa sign off work and what isn’t.

Is it above award pay?

Basically, if you’re a casual hourly worker - are they paying you above AU$23.66 an hour? It is a rule set by the Australian government that to qualify for a second-year visa, if you’re a casual worker, you must be paid either equal to, or above the award rate. Simple as.

Some farmers include ‘bed and board’ rates - they’ll slash your weekly pay for this & include stuff like Wi-Fi and car usage. If it’s still an acceptable level of pay and you’re happy with the work, then all is grand. However, some farmers do it to such an extent that workers are earning about $100 a week. That’s not okay, and you’re being exploited. Hand in your notice and find somewhere better.

It’s also important you’re working full time hours - you can only count your days if this is the case. Two to three hours a day won’t cut it. So make sure you’re in an area where harvest is either just starting, or in full swing.

Final tip: give yourself enough time

Another thing to consider is that farm work is very season-dependent, and can be unpredictable. There’s nothing worse than a harvest ending too soon, and you having to move farms last minute. Any days you can’t work due to poor weather or illness can’t count towards the 88 days. If you run out of time, you might not get the chance for that second year. Most people give themselves five to six months, just in case.

Good luck!

Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Related categories:

Karyza L, Reagan S & 4 others saved this
Written by Meg D.

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles

1 Comment

It is really a good chance to extend visa and earn some money at the same time. There are some good tips in this article for me as I didn't know how farm work really goes. Thank you!