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New country to be added to Australian working holday visa program

The working holiday visa has been a popular stepping stone to the 457 visa and subsequently a permanent residence visa. Many skilled working holiday visa holders with carefully prepared and planned migration pathways have successfully made the transition. Australia has been promising to expand the program and has already added Greece and Poland to the list. Now, another European country is set to join their ranks.

The Spanish Ambassador has revealed that Australia and Spain are set to sign an agreement under the working holiday visa program to allow youth aged 18 to 31 to live, work and study for 12 months in each other’s countries.

Under the Australian-Spanish deal, the visa holders are expected to be able to work full time as long as they don't clock up more than six months with a single employer. They can also study for up to four months in the same course.

The news reported by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo states that Australian youth will also have the same the privileges under “the agreement expected to be finalized shortly”.

“The visa scheme will be up and running within 12 to 18 months although provisional arrangements could be in place by as early as the end of the year,” Spain's ambassador to Australia Enrique Viguera told El Mundo.

Youth unemployment in Spain is reportedly currently running at over 50 percent compared to the 13 percent in Australia.

Given this it is expected that only limited number of visas will be issued with conditions that would include the following:

•             the visa is not renewable; and applicants must,

•             arrive with A$5,000 (around €3,500).

•             demonstrate "functional" English; and

•             have completed at least two years of a tertiary qualification.

With the limited Visa numbers the first batch is expected to be snapped up by Spanish students currently in Australia.

Australia's Working Holiday Maker visa program grew by close to 16% last year with the grant of over 258,000 visas. Minister Scott Morrison is looking to expand the program further saying that the program significantly benefits the economy in general and is of particular importance to the hospitality and tourism sectors. DIBP is currently in the process of negotiating new and more liberalised Working Holiday Maker visa arrangements with thirteen new partner countries including Portugal, Mexico, Hungary, Vietnam, San Marino, the Czech Republic, Israel, Latvia, the Slovak Republic and Andorra.

On average, each Working Holiday Maker spends A$13,218 during their stay in Australia. Approximately 71 per cent of this expenditure occurs in the three interrelated areas of tourism, accommodation and transportation.

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