The country put a new visa rule in place to extend their stays.

By Cailey Rizzo
Updated February 24, 2020

Australia has extended its working holiday visa rule from six months to 12 months for visitors who want to help with bushfire relief efforts.

The change in the Working Holiday Maker program will allow backpackers to assist in the work necessary for recovery including demolition, land clearing, and repairing dams, roads and railways. Working holiday visas can also be extended for a second year using the working days accumulated from recovery efforts.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge described the initiative as locally driven, but assured it will be a massive effort that is effective immediately.

“These hard-working Australians have been hit by the recent bushfires, but from today they can employ backpackers for six months longer, helping them at a critical time in the recovery effort,” he said. "We want businesses and charitable organizations to have as many boots on the ground as they need.”

Brook Mitchell / Stringer via Getty

Those who participate in the program are also required to have a high school degree, have health insurance for while they’re in Australia and be able to prove they can financially support themselves for the first part of their stay down under.

Anyone from the United States looking to participate must be between 18 to 30 and have a valid passport, according to the Australian Visa Bureau.

This year’s bushfire season in Australia was the worst on record. The fires are estimated to have killed at least 33 people and perhaps a billion animals. More than 3,000 homes were destroyed and an area the size of England was charred.

If you aren’t able to travel to Australia for a year to help rebuild, check out other ways of assisting recovery efforts. 

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