On the 16th of December, the UK and Australia signed a free trade agreement. While the agreement will not exactly bring free movement between the countries, it will have a big impact on certain visa holders, once it commences.

It is important to understand that the signed agreement will only come into force once certain domestic procedures in both countries have been completed. The signed agreement must be passed in the respective parliaments, visa legislation will have to be drafted, approved, and come into effect. In addition, the various components of the agreement will take some time to come into force. Some will take two to five years.

The proposed changes are:

  • Working holiday visas: the age limit will be lifted to 35 years. Also stays up to three years will be permitted. These changes will come into effect within two years of commencement of the agreement
  • Managers and specialists will have easier access to intra-company transfers. To date, no visa pathways have been announced, which means there will be some delay to these changes effectively coming into effect.
  • The existing Global Talent Program is expected to utilise a new stream targeting innovators and early career development in both countries. A 2-year pilot will be capped at 1000 places in the first and 2000 places in the second year. A subsequent program review will then assess the program outcome and determine whether this stream will be implemented in the future.
  • Agricultural workers: Australia is currently developing a new Agricultural Visa and the UK has been invited to participate. Details will be available when the visa pathway is finalised
  • UK professionals (such as architects, scientists, researchers, lawyers and accountants) will be able to access Australian work visas without being subject to the occupation skilled lists. No further details on what other requirements will have to be met have been announced yet.
  • Recognition of professional qualifications between Australia and the UK will be streamlined. This is particularly interesting for UK and Australian lawyers who will be able to practice in either country.

Further information on the inclusions and components of the A-UKFTA are available on the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website and the UK Government website

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