How to Prevent being Denied A 2nd Year Visa

It's true that sometimes the options for 2nd year visa work sound a little bit like hard labour - long hours, difficult work, low wages - but at least you're guaranteed a 2nd year visa, right? This is not always the truth, and in the case of backpacker Laura Smith it was hard labour in vain. Having done 4 months of underpaid and strenuous work in rural Victoria, she applied for the 2nd year visa and was denied. Even after appealing the decision, the review confirmed the original outcome - she would need to leave Australia within 28 days with no 2nd year visa.

So how could this happen to someone? After all that hard work, why would the government punish her like that? Well, the answer is very simple - the government was just following the rules, and this situation could have been avoided by better understanding the requirements for a 2nd year visa.

Since 2015, there has been a provision in place to protect backpackers from unfair wages, by discouraging dishonest farm owners from trying to take advantage of backpackers by overworking and underpaying them.  Here's the rule:

All specified work performed on or after 1 December 2015 must be remunerated in accordance with the relevant Australian legislation and awards. Voluntary work performed after 1 December 2015 will not be accepted for the purpose of applying for a second Working Holiday visa.

Now, that's not exactly crystal-clear, is it? Without taking the time to research Award Rates for a specific industry, there is no way to know what is fair and unfair, or what you should be paid as a minimum. It would be very easy to believe a dishonest business owner, and find out 4 months later that you are not eligible for a 2nd year visa!

We are here to set the record straight, and this is the bottom line: the minimum wage in Australia is $17.70 per hour worked, and you will need to demonstrate that you have earned this much per hour worked to qualify for the 2nd year visa.  So if you are being paid less than this wage, be advised - your visa may not be approved!

Before accepting any work towards your 2nd year visa, you should ensure:

  • You are not working for free - you must be paid a verifiable wage that you can prove with bank statements and pay slips.
  • If being paid hourly, the wage is at least $17.70 per hour.
  • If you are being paid by the piece:
    • the piecework rate must enable the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the minimum hourly rate prescribed in this award for the type of employment and the classification level of the employee. That means 15% more than $17.70 per hour - so an average worker should be able to earn $20.35 per hour!
    • you still must earn at least $17.70 per hour on average, even when working by the piece. If this is not possible, then your work may not qualify for the 2nd year visa, and you should seek employment elsewhere.


If you think you might have been underpaid, or just want to check that a job offer is fair, just head over to to use their quick Underpayment Calculator.


Is this all sounding a bit complicated? Would it be nice to have someone to talk to about this, or someone to call if anything goes wrong? What about help with all the other vague and confusing rules for a working holidaymaker?


Our Work and Travel Australia Core program may be the perfect solution for you, unless you want to learn every law in Australia! We provide assistance for your 2nd year visa work, including providing lists of trusted employers, vetting any "shady" sounding jobs or employers reported to us, and offering you clear advice on what you should be paid and how to qualify for your 2nd year visa.

It doesn't stop there - we offer help with all kinds of tricky things like this, including tax issues, banking, and immigration.

It's pretty nice to have some help when you need it, right?

Learn more about everything we can help you with during your working holiday, including jobs, housing, travel, and so much more!

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Sources: The Byte, Fair Work Ombudsman, DIBP 417 Visa