WWOOF Visa Info

WWOOFing in Australia is NOT Paid Employment

WWOOFing is VOLUNTARY work in exchange for learning something about Organic Growing, the people and the country you are visiting.

To learn about their Host's growing techniques or lifestyle, WWOOF volunteers or WWOOFers do 4 to 6 hours voluntary work each day to cover their bed and board. Often this will be simple farm work, but it can also include environmental work such as tree planting for desalination, erosion control, conservation work or wildlife habitat creation.

You must arrange your entry visa to Australia before you join WWOOF. WWOOF Memberships will not be refunded if you cannot obtain an entry visa. WWOOF Pty Ltd and WWOOF Hosts cannot assist with travel costs or visa applications, so please do not ask.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP, formerly DIAC) has information about visas, these are some visas that allow WWOOFing:

If you live in Mainland China or Macau please contact our Sales Outlet for Mainland China or Macau (click here for details) to join, you cannot order direct from WWOOF Australia. You will need to be at least 18 years old a have a Visa before you join.
Here are some articles courtesy of The New Land Magazine, written in Chinese about:

WWOOFing IS allowed on ALL Working Holiday Visas!

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection say:

“In recognition of the many legitimate and worthwhile agencies that employ volunteer workers to deliver valuable community services, Working Holiday visa holders will still be able to perform volunteer work should they wish to do so. The work will simply not count towards eligibility for a second visa.”

Working Holiday Visas

A Working Holiday Visa (417) enables visitors to earn wages with some restrictions, and MUST be issued BEFORE arriving in Australia. This visa gives you 12 months to travel to Australia from the date the visa is granted, and allows you to stay in Australia for 12 months from the date you first enter Australia.

  • You can leave and re-enter Australia within 12 months of the date of initial entry to Australia. If you depart Australia during your 12 month stay, you are not able to recover the period of time spent outside Australia. To apply for a Working Holiday Visa (417) download Application Form # 1150
  • With a first or second Working Holiday Visa, you may work or volunteer for the same employer for up to 6 months. All costs in obtaining a visa, as well as in travelling to and from Australia, have to be met by you.
  • People can apply for a Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) if they are between the ages of 18 and 30 and hold a passport of a country with reciprocal arrangements with Australia including:
    Belgium, Canada, the Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
  • If you are from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Indonesia, Malasia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay or USA, you may be eligible to apply for a Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462), which provides similar opportunities for tertiary educated people aged 18 to 30. Exemption: Applicants from the USA are exempt from the tertiary education requirement. (Greece, Israel, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Vietnam have Working Woliday Arrangements signed with Australia, but they are not yet in effect as at 30 June 2015, see border.gov.au for details.)
  • Australia is negotiating new Work and Holiday (subclass 462) arrangements with the following countries:
    Andora, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Peru, Phillipines, San Marino, Singapore, Solomom Islands and Switzerland. (as at June 2015)
  • WWOOFing in Australia is NOT Paid Employment

    WWOOFing is VOLUNTARY work in exchange for learning something about Organic Growing, the people and the country you are visiting.

    To learn about their Host's growing techniques or lifestyle, WWOOF volunteers or WWOOFers do 4 to 6 hours voluntary work each day to cover their bed and board. Often this will be simple farm work, but it can also include environmental work such as tree planting for desalination, erosion control, conservation work or wildlife habitat creation.

    You must arrange your entry visa to Australia before you join WWOOF. WWOOF Memberships will not be refunded if you cannot obtain an entry visa. WWOOF Pty Ltd and WWOOF Hosts cannot assist with travel costs or visa applications, so please do not ask.

    {slider=Visas for WWOOFing in Australia, click for details}

    The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP, formerly DIAC) has information about visas, these are some visas that allow WWOOFing:

If you live in Mainland China or Macau please contact our Sales Outlet for Mainland China or Macau (click here for details) to join, you cannot order direct from WWOOF Australia. You will need to be at least 18 years old a have a Visa before you join.
Here are some articles courtesy of The New Land Magazine, written in Chinese about:

WWOOFing IS allowed on ALL Working Holiday Visas!

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection say:

“In recognition of the many legitimate and worthwhile agencies that employ volunteer workers to deliver valuable community services, Working Holiday visa holders will still be able to perform volunteer work should they wish to do so. The work will simply not count towards eligibility for a second visa.”

Working Holiday Visas

A Working Holiday Visa (417) enables visitors to earn wages with some restrictions, and MUST be issued BEFORE arriving in Australia. This visa gives you 12 months to travel to Australia from the date the visa is granted, and allows you to stay in Australia for 12 months from the date you first enter Australia.

  • You can leave and re-enter Australia within 12 months of the date of initial entry to Australia. If you depart Australia during your 12 month stay, you are not able to recover the period of time spent outside Australia. To apply for a Working Holiday Visa (417) download Application Form # 1150
  • With a first or second Working Holiday Visa, you may work or volunteer for the same employer for up to 6 months. All costs in obtaining a visa, as well as in travelling to and from Australia, have to be met by you.
  • People can apply for a Working Holiday Visa if they are between the ages of 18 and 30 and hold a passport of a country with reciprocal arrangements with Australia including:
    Belgium, Canada, the Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
  • If you are from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Indonesia, Malasia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay or USA, you may be eligible to apply for a Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462), which provides similar opportunities for tertiary educated people aged 18 to 30. Exemption: Applicants from the USA are exempt from the tertiary education requirement. (Greece, Israel, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Vietnam have Working Woliday Arrangements signed with Australia, but they are not yet in effect as at 30 June 2015, see border.gov.au for details.)

IMPORTANT! Changes to rules for Second Working Holiday Visa applications came into effect on 31/8/2015.

Volunteer work no longer counts towards the 88 days needed for visa extension applications unless WWOOFers were already with a WWOOF Host or had pre-arranged a WWOOFing stay with a Host. In these cases days can be counted until 30th November 2015 only.

WWOOFing IS allowed on ALL Working Holiday Visas!

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection say:

“In recognition of the many legitimate and worthwhile agencies that employ volunteer workers to deliver valuable community services, Working Holiday visa holders will still be able to perform volunteer work should they wish to do so. The work will simply not count towards eligibility for a second visa.”

IMPORTANT! Changes to rules for Second Working Holiday Visas came into effect on 31/8/2015.

Volunteer work no longer counts towards visa extensions unless WWOOFerswere already with a WWOOF Host or had pre-arranged a WWOOFing stay with a Host. In these cases days can be counted until 30th November 2015 only.

A Press Release was issued on 1/5/2015 by the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection stating that volunteering would no longer be counted towards Second Working Holiday Visa Extensions. If you are a current WWOOF member, please check the WWOOF Forum for updates. Also see the facebook pages started by a WWOOFer & Host: Senator Cash. Volunteering is NOT exploitation. and Keep Wwoofing as 2nd Year Visa Work - Australia

UPDATE 28/4/2016

The Senate Education and Employment References Committee has handed down their Report and Recommendations, unfortunately they have not addressed the issue of volunteering in their recommendations. however the Greens additional comments at the end of the report say:

1.6 Overall we support the recommendations in the committee report, with minor additions and changes.

Recommendations ...

1.9 Replace Recommendation 10 with:

The committee recommends that the reconstituted MACSM review the Working Holiday Maker (417 and 462) visa program. The review should include, but not be limited to, an examination of the costs and benefits of the continued operation of the optional second year extension to the visa, the costs and benefits of providing government with the ability to set a cap on the numbers of Working Holiday Maker program visas issued in any given year and whether volunteer work should contribute to eligibility for a second year visa.

We are yet to hear if the Greens alterations will be adopted.

UPDATE 26/11/15

On Friday the 20th of November 2015 The Senate Education and Employment References Committee held a Public Hearing in Melbourne about The impact of Australia's temporary work visa programs on the Australian labour market and on the temporary work visa holders. (Transcript now available)

Present at the Hearing were: Chair Senator Sue Lines, Australian Labor Party , WA; Deputy Chair: Senator Bridget McKenzie, The Nationals , VIC; Senator Deborah O'Neill, Australian Labor Party, NSW; Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens , VIC

Traci Wilson-Brown, Office Manager for WWOOF Australia, was invited to attend this hearing as a witness to advise the Committee of the impact on the WWOOF Program of the recent change to the eligibility framework for the 2nd Working Holiday visa program.

Traci gave an outline of the WWOOF Program and spoke about the impact on the WWOOF Program, Hosts and volunteers of the recent changes. Each Senator then asked a series of questions.

Many questions were asked about the WWOOF complaints process and how WWOOF ensured no criminals were in our program.... Senator O'Neill commented that people who weren't part of our program did not have a Complaints process or an organisation like WWOOF to help them, only Fair Work Australia who were overstretched and may not have the funding to cope with the volume of complaints they had to investigate.

The Senators said they had heard some terrible stories and they knew that the criminal elements who ran labour hire companies were extremely clever & ready to exploit the tiniest loophole if they could find one and they we're not prepared to allow them to do this. Senator McKenzie asked what WWOOF would recommend to allow our volunteers to be part of the Second year visa eligibility framework without letting these criminals back in? Traci suggested the Government approve specific volunteer programs, with guidelines for Hosts and volunteers and complaints processes that Government had scrutinised and found were rigorous enough to meet their approval.

Janet Rice's facebook page post talks about the Senate Hearing, this was also covered by the Weekly Times

It was an excellent opportunity to have the WWOOF issue heard. We acknowledge and thank Janet Rice for her assistance to facilitate this and hope the Senate Committee will make positive recommendations to government to include our program in the eligibility framework for 2nd Working Holiday visas once again.

Visitor (Tourist) Visas and Student Visas

On Visitor visas any work must be genuinely voluntary and must be work that would not otherwise be undertaken by an Australian resident. This principle also applies for those intending to undertake WWOOFing with commercial operators (such as large organic beef farms). WWOOFers undertaking work with commercial organisations risk being in breach of Visitor visa conditions which do not permit work. The Visitor visa does not offer the wide scope of options that are available to those who are holders of Working Holiday or Work and Holiday visas which permit work.

WWOOFers travelling on Tourist Visas should join WWOOF as part of their holiday, not the main reason for it. In most cases these WWOOFers want to be doing something useful, learning about organics and permaculture and getting to know some real Australians. This is much better suited to the pace & lifestyle on non-commercial WWOOF Host properties, where they are generally treated as part of the family. They still have all of their meals and accommodation but the hours are generally less formal and as the property is not generating an income the Hosts are far less likely to be paying someone to help around the property. There are a large number of non-commercial and hobby farm WWOOF Hosts in the program to choose from.

IMPORTANT NOTE: DIBP change the rules from time to time about what activities are allowed on these visas, it is important to confirm with DIBP that the type of visa you apply for does allow volunteering in exchange for food and accommodation. The information below is quoted from the DIBP website January 2014, but can change at any time.

Visitor visa (subclass 600) Tourist stream

DIBP say this about Visitor Visas - Tourist stream:

This visa lets you:

  • have a holiday or visit family and friends in Australia
  • study in Australia for up to three months
  • work as a genuine unpaid volunteer, but only if an Australian resident would not otherwise be paid to do the work (you can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses such as meals and accommodation).
  • See Visitor visa (subclass 600) Tourist stream, on the Visa Holders tab, under the Heading What this visa lets you do

    eVisitor (subclass 651)

    DIBP say this about eVisitor Visas (subclass 651):

    Volunteer work tourism schemes

    In general, an eVisitor does not allow you to work in Australia. However, you may be able to work as a volunteer if:

  • your main purpose in visiting Australia is tourism, and the voluntary work is incidental to tourism
  • the work is genuinely voluntary and you are not paid for it other than for meals, accommodation or out-of-pocket living expenses
  • the work would not otherwise be done in return for wages by an Australian resident.
  • See eVisitor Visas (subclass 651), on the About eVisitor tab, under the Heading What the eVisitor lets you do

    Can I work as a volunteer while on an eVisitor?

  • Voluntary work is only allowed on tourist eVisitor in very limited circumstances. You may be able to work as a volunteer whilst on a tourist eVisitor if:
  • your main purpose in visiting Australia is tourism, and any voluntary work remains incidental to tourism,
  • the work involved would not otherwise be undertaken, in return for wages, by an Australian resident, or
  • the work is genuinely voluntary and no remuneration is received in return for the activities. It is acceptable, under the conditions of an eVisitor, to receive meals, accommodation and/ or reimbursement of out-of-pocket living expenses in return for voluntary work.

DIBP say "If you were granted a Student Visa on or after 26 April 2008, you and your dependent family members will already have Permission to Work automatically included with your visa. You may have to apply for permission to work, depending on the type of Student Visa you apply for

  • You cannot undertake work until you have commenced your course in Australia. When your course has commenced you can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during the term and unlimited hours when your course is not in session.

    Notes:

  • Work that is a formal registered part of your course is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight.
  • If you are doing *voluntary, unpaid work, it is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight if it:
  • is of benefit to the community
  • is for a non-profit organisation
  • would not otherwise be undertaken in return for wages by an Australian resident (that is, it is a designated volunteer position), and
  • is genuinely voluntary (that is, no remuneration, either in cash or kind is received — board and lodging acceptable).
  • If you are a subclass 574 (Postgraduate research sector) student visa holder and you have commenced your masters by research or doctorate course in Australia, you have unlimited work rights.
  • You can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during any preliminary courses you undertake on a subclass 574 (Postgraduate research sector) student visa. Example: ELICOS"
  • *Note: On Visitor visas any voluntary work must be genuinely voluntary and must be work that would not otherwise be undertaken by an Australian resident. This principle also applies for those intending to undertake WWOOFing with commercial operators (such as large organic beef farms). WWOOFers undertaking work with commercial organisations risk being in breach of Visitor visa conditions which do not permit work. The Visitor visa does not offer the wide scope of options that are available to those who are holders of Working Holiday or Work and Holiday visas which permit work.

Need More Information about visas? See the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship Website or if you need to talk to someone, here are theTelephone contact details for DIBP. For information about the cost of visas, see: Visa Costs

If you have a Tourist Visa, you must have enough money to support yourself for your holiday in Australia and you may be asked for evidence on arrival.

If you have a Working Holiday Visa, you must have enough money to support yourself for the initial stage of your holiday in Australia and you may be asked for evidence on arrival. You must hold a return ticket or enough money for this - generally AUD $5,000. You may need to show evidence on arrival with a bank statement or your return ticket. The amount will depend on your travel plans and the length of time you plan to be in Australia.

IMPORTANT! Changes to rules for Second Working Holiday Visa applications came into effect on 31/8/2015.

Volunteer work no longer counts towards the 88 days needed for visa extension applications unless WWOOFers were already with a WWOOF Host or had pre-arranged a WWOOFing stay with a Host. In these cases days can be counted until 30th November 2015 only.

WWOOFing IS allowed on ALL Working Holiday Visas!

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection say:

“In recognition of the many legitimate and worthwhile agencies that employ volunteer workers to deliver valuable community services, Working Holiday visa holders will still be able to perform volunteer work should they wish to do so. The work will simply not count towards eligibility for a second visa.”

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WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchanges, to build a sustainable global community.
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