August 31, 2023

Working Holiday Visa (Backpacker visa) and the End of Covid Visas in Australia

As Australia’s migration landscape undergoes a transformative phase, the closure of the Pandemic Event visa by the Albanese Labor Government stands as a pivotal development. The government’s decision, effective from February 2024, reflects a strategic response to evolving circumstances. This article delves into the intricacies of this closure, its implications for various visa holders, with a specific focus on the Working Holiday visa holders, and the broader context of Australia’s migration reforms.


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The Transition Period

In a joint media release with the Hon Clare O’Neil MP, the Albanese Labor Government announced the imminent closure of the Pandemic Event visa. With its operation driven by the unique challenges posed by the pandemic, the visa will no longer be open to new applicants from February 2024. This decisive move aligns Australia’s visa system with the evolving circumstances, ensuring its effectiveness and integrity.

Impact on Existing Pandemic Event Visa Holders

From September 2, 2023, the Pandemic Event visa will solely accept applications from individuals already holding the visa. This approach ensures a smooth transition for those already in Australia and relying on this visa category. While this measure might initially affect prospective applicants, it aims to provide continuity and uphold the visa’s purpose.

Working Holiday Visa Holders

Navigating Change: Among those impacted by these changes are Working Holiday visa holders, who have been integral to Australia’s workforce during the pandemic. With the closure of the Pandemic Event visa, Working Holiday visa holders will need to explore alternative options to continue their stay in Australia. This shift underscores the importance of strategic planning for this group, ensuring a seamless transition to other visa categories.

Closure and Migration Reform

The closure of the Pandemic Event visa is part of a larger migration reform agenda undertaken by the Albanese Labor Government. Having inherited a migration system riddled with backlogs and inefficiencies, the government has been proactive in addressing these challenges. This holistic approach seeks to streamline the migration process and support the nation’s growth.

The Impact on Net Overseas Migration

Aligned with the Albanese Government’s efforts to restore stability post-pandemic, the closure of pandemic-related measures, including those for Working Holiday visa holders, contributes to managing Net Overseas Migration. By placing downward pressure on migration numbers, the government aims to restore pre-pandemic levels of population growth while maintaining the balance between economic contributions and population stability.

Looking Ahead

New Application Parameters: Starting September 2, 2023, new applications for the Pandemic Event visa will be granted for a period of six months. Additionally, a Visa Application Charge of $405 AUD will be introduced, signaling a commitment to ensure the visa serves individuals with a genuine need to contribute to Australia’s progress.

The transition phase underway in Australia’s migration landscape underscores the government’s commitment to adapt to changing circumstances while ensuring visa integrity. As Working Holiday visa holders and others affected by these changes chart their course forward, strategic planning and exploring alternative visa avenues become paramount. The Albanese Labor Government’s comprehensive reforms are poised to create a migration system that aligns with Australia’s needs and values, even as it bids farewell to the Pandemic Event visa.