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Australia, UK free trade deal: Changes to working visas

by geiw5

The “rite of passage” working holiday visa allowing Australians to work and travel in the United Kingdom when international borders reopen will be retained and extended to people aged 35 under a new free trade deal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the FTA agreement in principle today with the fine print to be thrashed out in coming days.

Currently, Australian citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 are eligible for the Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417), which allows you to work and travel in Britain for up to two years.

To be eligible you need to be under the age of 30 and have £2530 ($4628) in savings in your bank account for 30 consecutive days.

But under the changes agreed to by Britain, Australians aged up to 35 will now be able to apply for the working visas.

You will also be able to stay longer with the new visa to grant working rights for up to three years.

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“I said we would wait for the right deal, and I think we’ve got the right deal between the UK and Australia,’’ Mr Morrison said in London.

“This is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded. The only one which comes into close connection with that is the arrangement we have with New Zealand.”

A new agriculture visa will also be established for UK visa holders allowing, for example, shearers to move between the two countries more freely.

Last year Trade Minister Simon Birmingham predicted the free trade agreement held the prospect of making it easier to travel to work in Britain.

“We of course have a rich history of young people from each country undertaking an almost rite of passage of living, working, travelling around each other’s countries,’’ he said.

“Perhaps we can streamline and extend that,” he said, so the “terms of that are as flexible as they can be.”

Britain officially left the EU on 31 January 2020 allowing it the ability to pursue independent trade deals, however it is still negotiating its future relationship with the bloc that will come into effect on 1 January 2021 after a year’s transition period.

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The Prime Minister struck the free trade agreement after a three-hour “working dinner” at Boris Johnson’s residence on Monday night.

It’s an important agreement for the UK because it’s also Britain’s first major FTA since Brexit.

Under the FTA Britain has agreed to liberalise Australian imports of beef, sheep meat and sugar, increasing their tariff-free threshold and tapering tariffs over time.

Australia and the UK have also committed to provisions on temporary entry that will support economic recovery, enhance opportunities for business travel, and encourage people to travel and work in each other’s territory, on the basis of reciprocity.

But the Prime Minister has come under fire at home over his “tone deaf” photo at an English pub while the international borders remain closed.

A photo of a smiling Scott Morrison visiting an English pub has elicited a furious response from many Aussies who have been told they are unlikely to travel overseas until at least mid-2022.

During Mr Morrison’s visit, he and his “20-plus personal team” stopped off at the Jamaica Inn hotel for lunch, with the pub posting a picture of the PM to its Facebook page.

“Pleasure to have the Australian Prime Minister & his 20+ personal team for lunch this weekend. You never know what you might find at Jamaica Inn,” the pub wrote.

Since posting the image the pub’s social media page has been flooded with comments from angry Australians blasting the “double standards” in the country’s international travel ban.

“Looks like a great restaurant! Sadly it highlights the double standards. ScoMo is trying to tell Australians that UK is Covid riddled and if it wasn’t for him keeping borders completely shut we would all risk a sure death,” one commenter said.

“Parents according to Scott Morrison (ScoMo) are not considered immediate family in Australia. Many are separated from children, partners, parents and grandparents with no road map from the government when we can see them again. We are not allowed to leave and they are not allowed to come. Yet politicians and celebrities travel freely.”

The Prime Minister will return to Australia on Thursday to complete a fortnight of quarantine at home. He will not be required to quarantine in a hotel under special arrangements organised for his return and will participate in question time next week remotely.

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