88 Days – FAQ About 2nd Year Visa Work

88 days Australia

Many backpackers in Australia want to do the three months or “88 days” of rural work in order to get their second year Working Holiday Visa. There is some rules concerning the work that is eligible the 88 days that seem to raise a lot of questions among backpackers.

In this post I’m trying to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions about the 2nd year visa work. There is a lot of contradictory information on the Internet about the rules concerning the 2nd year visa work, so for this post I have used the information found from Australian immigration website, which is the official source of any information about your visa.


Where can I find information about 2nd year visa work?

Your primary source of information about anything related to work for the 2nd year visa should always be Australian immigration websites! I know the sites can be sometimes difficult to navigate and read, so as a secondary resource of information you can also use other websites to clarify things that concern you. But, because government is changing the rules all the time, the information you find elsewhere (like from Facebook groups or other backpacker friends) may be outdated.

Because of this it is important to always double check the information you find anywhere else (including this website) from immigration’s website where the latest and correct information is provided. To get there, click border.gov.au, go to -> “Visa applicants” and from there -> “Specified work“. If the information you receive elsewhere  is contradict to what is said on government’s site, always trust the immigration’s  website.


What kind of work can I do and where?

Work that can be counted towards second year visa must be done in an area that is considered to be regional. Post code list of regional areas can be found from: border.gov.au -> “Visa applicants” -> “Regional areas“. Basically, most areas outside metropolitan areas are considered regional.

Work that can be counted toward your second year visa must be in the following fields:

  • plant and animal cultivation
  • fishing and pearling
  • tree farming and felling
  • mining
  • construction

It is not enough that you are employed in some of these fields, but the work you do must be specific type of work to be counted towards your visa. Examples of work that counts towards your visa days include:

  • harvesting and/or packing of fruit and vegetable crops
  • pruning and trimming vines and trees
  • general maintenance crop work
  • cultivating or propagating plants, fungi or their products or parts
  • feeding and herding cattle on a farm
  • horse breeding and stud farming
  • maintaining animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce, including natural increase
  • immediate processing of animal products including shearing, butchery, packing and tanning
  • landscaping the grounds of a construction/house site
  • painting the interior/exterior of new buildings
  • conservation and environmental reforestation work
  • zoo work involving plant or animal cultivation
  • erecting fences on a construction site
  • scaffolding.

Examples of work that is NOT eligible include:

  • working as a nanny on a farm
  • working at a cellar door providing wine tastings
  • general garden maintenance
  • maintaining animals for tourism or recreational purposes
  • cooking/catering on a mine site
  • town planning or architecture
  • cleaning the interior of mine complexes or buildings.
  • supporting work, such as book-keeping

(source: border.gov.au, retrieved 18 Jun 2016.)


How to calculate the days?

This is a quote from border.gov.au:

” ‘Three months‘ means three ‘calendar’ months or 88 days. Work can be either:

  • in one block with one business
  • in separate blocks with one business or a number of businesses.

Blocks of work may be in different kinds of specified work.

One full day of work is defined as having worked the minimum number of hours considered to be a standard day by the particular industry in which the applicant is employed. Generally, the Australian working week is 35 to 40 hours, consisting of seven to eight hours of work each day.  Individual employers can not set a smaller period of time than the industry standard to satisfy the specified work requirement –– Applicants whose work is equivalent to full time employment may count weekends in the 88 day period. However, if the applicant’s work is not equivalent to full time employment, for example, part time or casual, they may only count the full days actually worked. ” (retrieved 18 Jun 2016.)

It doesn’t matter what your employment contract says about your employment status (casual or full time) what does matter, is the amount of hours you work and is this equivalent to the full time employment. However, in my experience the amount of visa days you get from a week is dependent on the farm so always ask your employer how many days they sign you per week.

Also, unfortunately even if you would work more than full time hours per day does not count as ‘extra days’:

“The shortest period that may be counted towards the specified work requirement is one day of full time work (for that industry). Applicants cannot count a long day of work as more than one day of specified work. For example, if the industry’s standard day is six hours long, working a 12 hour day does not count as two days of specified work.” (retrieved 25 Jan 2017.)


What documents will I need about my farm work?

You have to provide some evidence to immigration proving that you have done your visa days. The documents that you will need from your employer include:

  • payslips (from all work done after 31 August 2015)
  • completed Form 1263 that your employer has signed

In addition to these, if you do get checked when applying your second year visa the immigration may also ask you to provide:

  • payment summaries
  • tax returns
  • employer references
  • original Australian bank statement covering the period of declared specified work.

Where do I attach these documents?

When you apply for the second year visa you do not attach these documents to your application. You apply for the visa online and you only fill in to the online application following information: your employer’s ABN, day you started working, day you stopped working and the post code of your work place.

Only if you do get investigated you need to send out these documents. Nevertheless, you should have at least your payslips and the Form 1263 ready since these can be difficult to acquire afterwards if you do get investigated.


How much should I get paid?

After 31 August 2015 all the work towards second year visa should be paid at least the minimum wage according to Fair Work Australia.This means that wwoofing and other volunteer work doesn’t count towards your visa anymore.

Most of the work that backpackers do is on casual contract, which means that you don’t get paid annual leave, paid sick leave or other benefits that full time employees get. This is why the minimum wages for casual employees are slightly higher than for employees with full time contract (more information click HERE). For farm work the minimum wages are following:

“For picking fruit or vegetables, or pruning, you should be paid at least $22.13 an hour if you’re working on a casual hourly basis.

If you’re on a piece work agreement your pay rate has to allow the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the award, which works out to be $24.79 for a casual employee. ” (source: fairwork.gov.au, updated and re-retrieved 2 Sep 2016.)

I know there is some farms that have found a loop hole going around this rule by overcharging in accommodation costs, so even if in the paper it looks like they are paying the minimum wage the money that remains to the employee after the deductions is much less. Personally I consider this to be as much exploitation as not paying the minimum wage so I would recommend not to work for these kind of farms.


My situation is unclear, what should I do?

If you cannot find answer to your question from this or Australian immigration websites, or if your situation is unclear, my advice is to contact Australian immigration directly. You can contact them by:

  • calling to 131 881 (open Monday to Friday 8.30am – 4.30pm)
  • using their webform
  • visiting their office

Here are some useful websites where you can find more information:


Read More:

How to Find Farm Work in Australia

7 Things I Learned When Working on Farms in Australia


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2nd Year Visa Work

 

32 Responses

  1. Tom says:

    Hey,
    Very good post by the way. This has helped me a lot. Anyway my question is, I have 13 weeks pay most of which are full time (over 35 hours a week) how ever due to all the bank holidays in April and end of may three of those weeks have been shortened to 32 hours or 28 hours due to Easter bank holiday. Do you know whether this will be an issue? As no one would have worked on those bank holidays on the farm. So was wondering if the working week is reduced.
    Also, because I’m just doing 13 weeks pay slips which I’ll use too apply for 2nd year, I’ll have no where near 88 days – will they still need my days signed off with that form even if it says like 60 days
    Hope that makes sense, thanks

    • Hi Tom!

      Unfortunately I cannot give you definite answer to your question but I find it very unlikely that your visa would got refused because you are missing some hours from few weeks. I have some friends who had a bit similar problem since due the weather they were not able to work full hours every week. They got investigated and still got their visas. But I guess this is really dependent on the person who is handling your visa application and how strictly that person is interpreting the rules.

      Even if you have the payslips they still want you to provide the form as well if you get investigated. Most of the farms where I worked signed to the “actual days worked” part 7 days a week even if I worked 5 days a week and 8 hours a day, so in the end also in the form there would be 91 days from 13 weeks. Every farm has a bit different policies about how they signed the visa days but I have heard it should be fine even if in the form it would say 65 days (5days/week x 13 weeks). You anyway have the payslips to prove that you worked the required amount of hours regardless how many days the farm signs you.

      Hope this makes any sense. 😀

  2. Scott says:

    Great information on your site for travellers. Just a quick one it might pay for you to add some more info about pay rates. The minimum rate is based on a 20yr old worker (as per award) anyone younger has a discounted hourly rate (as per award).

  3. Hi, we have just started working on a Cotton Farm in the Warehouse in regional australia, moving bales & sending them off, I’m not sure where it fits in government regulations – do you know if it counts? thanks

    • Hi RhiRhi!

      I’m not completely sure does working on a warehouse of a farm count as regional work, at least packing fruit/veggies on a packing shed does count. As far as I know the work has to be somehow directly involved with the harvested crop. You can contact Australian immigration directly, maybe they can give you more clear answer to your question. 🙂

  4. Robin says:

    Hi! I have been working part time on a farm for 3 hours a day 7 days a week, do all these days count or do I have to work a minimum amount of hours per day?

    Cheers

    • Hi Robin!

      Unfortunately I cannot find clear information from immigration websites about the minimum hours. I have heard rumors that you should work at least 4 hours per day that the day would count but this is just what I have heard and not a fact. Please contact Australian immigration directly to get answer to your question, the contact details can be found at the end of this post 🙂

  5. Aaron says:

    I’m working on a building site as tfn and am halfway through my regional work does anyone no if I change to abn will my work days still count

    • Hi Aaron!

      I would guess that your days will still count, but I do not have definite information about this. I would advise you to contact Australian Immigration to get clear answer to your question, the contact details can be found at the end of this post. 🙂

  6. Renata says:

    Really helpful article!
    I got a job at a horse farm. They said that there’s a 4 weeks probation, but it’s paid with tax, super, and etc. So these 4 weeks count for the 2nd year visa, right?
    Thanks!

  7. Emma says:

    Hi!
    I am starting my farm work next week but I finish exactly 1 week before my visa expires… is that enough time to still apply? How do I even apply? Do I do the ImmiAccount online visa application like I did for the first visa? It looks to be the same.
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Emma!

      You have time to do your visa days till the day your visa expires, so as long as you work full time every week you should be fine.

      You apply the second year visa visa exactly like the first year visa so through your immi account. The application is the same only difference is that you need to fill out details about your farm work.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  8. Pat landy says:

    I started today in a banana warehouse…I work mon-thurs 6:30-4:30 and 1/2 day on Friday…I am going to take 10 days off after I work 10 weeks and wanted to come back and finish my 88 days. I thought in my 10 week block, working full time, I could count weekends…I am told by my employer that if I don’t work 13 straight weeks (92 days) then my first 10 weeks I can only count 5 days a week instead of including the weekends…is this true? I don’t want to take the break but I have a friend visiting from US and they can’t change their flights…but if this is true I am working 50 hours a week and can’t even get the weekends to count…so does your block of full time employment need to be in concecutive weeks? Or can you take a week or so off and pick up another 3 week block to get 21 more days? Thank you

    • Hi Pat!

      Well, it does say on the immigration websites that “the work can be either in one block with one business or in separate blocks with one business or a number of businesses.” Based on this sentence it shouldn’t matter if you take some time off, or even change the employer as long as your hours are equivalent to full time work.

      However, it is up to your employer how many days he/she is willing to sign you so it is unfortunate that your employer don’t want to sign you full days even if you have been working full time hours before your holiday. On the other hand, you also need to provide your payslips if you get investigated so from there it can be seen that you actually worked full time even if your employer wouldn’t agree with that.

      I would still recommend to contact immigration and get clarification to your situation, the contact details can be found at the end of this post.

      Best of luck with your days!

  9. Nick says:

    Hey, just a quick bit of advice please, as all the companies are just money hungry – non-advice giving haha and this post has some of the best advice I’ve seen.

    Situation; I did 13 weeks at 1 farm and have 13 paychecks, a payment summary and bank statements (if required). Only potential problem I see is that I didn’t work a full week on the last week but that was due to the harvest had finished and I wasn’t required any longer. Will this prove a problem if I’m investigated?

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Nick.

    • Cheers Nick!

      Thanks for your comment 🙂
      I find it very unlikely that the government would refuse your visa only because you missed some hours from one week. I have some friends who worked on the same farm for a bit over 3 months but because of the weather they weren’t able to work full hours every week, they got investigated and still got their visas. I suppose it is pretty much up to the person who handles your application that how much there is flexibility, but I believe you’ll be fine!

  10. Franziska says:

    Hello Everyone, I will start my 3 months of Fulltime work beginning of next month at a farm. I have free accommodation and food. Does it matter how much the farmer pays me per week? Does it have to be the min. wage? I would work 38 hours per week and get 200 dollars – which is totally fine for me but I am concerned that its not appropriate for the Visa. Cant find information about it and really need help! Thanks heaps already!!!!!

    Franzi

    • Hi Franzi!

      After 31 August 2015 the rules were changed and any work done after that date towards your second year visa should be paid at least minimum wage, which is 22,13$/hour for casual worker in horticulture. You need to provide payslips to prove this in case you get investigated.

      However, there is a loophole around this rule. It is not determined how much your employer can deduct accommodation costs from your pay, so technically if your payslips show that you got paid minimum wage (840,94$/week in your case) but after deductions (640,94$/week) the remaining wage is only 200$.

      I’m not 100% sure how immigration will handle these kind of cases since the aim for changing the rules was to make exploiting farms to pay minimum wages for their employees. As you can see from the calculation your employer clearly don’t want to pay you minimum wage.

      If you are okay with this my advice is to contact immigration office (contact details at the end of this post) and ask is it possible to get your second year visa from this farm if in the payslips the gross wage before deductions equals minimum wage.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  11. Nicola says:

    Hello Helena,
    I work on a farm and ,y days per week are very different depending on the amount of fruit. Some weeks I could only work 2 or 3 days. It is casual work but one of the most legit farms in australia. Other weeks I work 5 to 7 days, but my payslip always shows the full time work hours of 38 hours a week. I have a bit of struggle now cause the days I actually work until I fly out will be around 70. But I will have worked more than 13 weeks and have the full time hours each week. Does this mean I can count 7 days a week because of the 38 hour work week ?
    Thx a lot, really hope to get good news cheerio 🙂

    • Hi Nicola!

      I’m not an expert in this field but as far as I know if your payslips says you worked 38 hours a week and if the farm signs you 88 days as well it should be fine.

      If you want to be completely sure that your situation with the visa days is alright, you can contact Australian immigration directly by calling them (the number is 131 881), they are the ones who can give you official answer to this question.

      Hope this helps 🙂

  12. Van says:

    Hi Helena,

    Thanks a lot for all the information you let on your website.
    When you say “your employee should get signed 7 days each week” do you mean count and write 7 days instead of 5 directly on the 1263 document?
    Or does Australian immigration calculate it?

    Thanks a lot for your answer:)

    Van

    • Hi Van!

      If your employee is working full time hours you can count and sign to1263 form 7 days each week to the “days actually worked” (91 days in 13 weeks.)

      If your employee gets investigated and asked to provide more information he/she has to also send the payslips along with the 1263 form from which immigration also sees that your employee worked full hours which can be counted 7 visa days per week.

      Hope this helped 🙂

  13. Sue says:

    Have just started farm work. My working week is 9 hours a day for 6 days a week. As this is a longer day, a 54 hour working week, does it still only count as 6 days each week or can I count hours instead of days

    • Hi Sue!

      As your working week exceeds the full time working hours according to the rules by immigration you should be able to calculate (and getting signed) 7 days each week.

      Unfortunately, even though you work more than full time hours you can only calculate maximum 7 days per week for your visa days.

      Hopefully this answered your question 🙂

  14. Liz says:

    Hi
    My friend has been working on 2 farms since September and due to either bad weather or it being too hot she has still not got 88 days, however she has worked some days for up to 14 hours. At the moment she still believes she has 19 days but her visa runs out in march.
    Is there a limit on the time it should take as she is really getting upset and stressed
    Thanks

    • Liz says:

      On some occasions she has been working up to 52 hours a week

      • Hi Liz!

        Really unfortunate that your friend has had bad luck with farm work!

        As of my understanding your friend can calculate 7 days from the weeks she worked full time hours or more and only the days worked from the weeks she worked less than full time hours.

        7 days per week is unfortunately the maximum you can count even if you would work 14 hours that can be counted as one day worked.

        Luckily there is no time frame in which the farm work should be done so your friend can still keep working till the day her visa runs out. Hopefully she still gets her days gathered!

  15. Tammy says:

    We have an employee that has a 3 month contract with us – full time.
    Company hours = 38hrs / week
    He does work overtime, can we convert his total hours worked over the full period and convert it into days by dividing the total by 7 hours per day to get his total days worked?
    Hope that makes sense…..

    • Hi Tammy!

      With full working hours (38/week) your employee should get signed 7 days each week.

      As far as I know 7 days per week is the maximum amount of visa days you can get signed per week regardless if you work extra hours. So with 3 months full time contract your employees second year visa days should be fine anyways.

      For official information check the immigration website https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/417- and the section “specified work”

      Hope this helps! 🙂

  1. July 20, 2016

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    […] 88 Days – FAQ About 2nd Year Visa Work […]

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