Australian Visa – your flexible friend

Well, the Italian brother-in-law is completing his final preparations for Oz. He leaves on a one year working holiday visa on February 5th.

When I arrived in Australia Italians didn’t qualified for the one year visa. Nor did 28 year olds (as he is). Then it was only open people under 26 from just 5 countries: Ireland, Britain, Canada, Holland and Japan. Now the age restriction is 30 and citizens for a further 19 countries are eligible.

The chance of extending the visa by a year if you worked in agricultural work for three months also wasn’t in place when I was in Oz. (For a perhaps jaundiced view of this type of work – straight from the horse’s mouth – see the “Magnetic Island” chapter in TWB).

The desire, sometimes desperation, among backpackers to stay on in Australia after 12 months often made for some great creativity – if not sheer brass neck! I still pride myself on finding a loophole to stay on – legally – for a further 18 months after my first visa had expired.

At that time the rules said that we were meant to work no more than three months with any one company, and a maximum of six months during the visa period; the idea being that by working we could supplement the cost of our travels during the remaining six months. But with immigration controls still very slack at the time, backpackers frequently worked their full year in the same job.

Australian Visa

Some temp companies aided this practice by registering multiple company names. This allowed them to change the official employer of their temps every quarter. Indeed filing my tax returns at the end of my first year, I discovered to my surprise that for one quarter I had worked for “Women in Work” despite the fact that by then I had been employed by the same company for almost fourteen months. But as I discovered afterward, in my case – and perhaps others – the temp company made further profits by not paying their obligatory employer’s contributions towards my pension. But rules were being broken on all sides and no one grumbled.

But if you want more info on this dubious nether world you’ll just have to read “The Australian Backpacker” chapter in TWB!

Now to skype the brother-in-law and have a little chat before he flies off ….!

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