The Migration Regulations 1994 has been amended to enable the new agriculture visa. The federal government announced the changes on Thursday 30/9
The full conditions of the visa are still being finalised in consultation with the sector, but are expected to include potential pathways to permanent residency, including regional resettlement.
A phased approach to establishing the agriculture visa has been agreed with industry.
Phase 1 comprises a first small cohort of agriculture worker arrivals between December 2021 and March 2022, contingent on border settings, country readiness and quarantine availability. Recruitment under Phase 1 will be open only to a small number of existing Approved Employers who are already accredited and experienced with the existing PALM Scheme.
Phase 2, from April 2022, will see a steady increase in the number of employers participating in the agriculture visa, an increase in the number of workers recruited, and an expansion in the number of countries participating
“The Ag Visa will be the biggest structural change to the agricultural workforce in our nation’s history,” Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said.
The Australian government has committed to prioritising bilateral deals with countries through the Association of South-East Asian Nations, which include Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
The visa is designed to address labour shortages that have been aggravated by international border closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government has estimated the horticulture sector alone is facing a shortage of up to 30,000 workers by February.
The visa would be available to workers across agricultural industries, including the meat processing, fisheries and forestry sectors, and allow individuals to move between employers.