Australia is seeking reinforcements from international backpackers and students as the country is experiencing an outbreak of Covid-19 and its economy is short on staff. The government waived visa application fees.
Australia’s government announced on January 19 it waived visa application fees for any backpacker or student who arrives in Australia within the next 12 weeks.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison encouraged them to apply for jobs as they travel around the country.
“Move all the way around the country, and at the same time join our workforce. Help us in our agricultural sector, in our hospitality sector, and so many of the other parts of the economy that rely on that labor”, said Scott Morrison at a televised press conference.
The visa usually costs AU$ 630 (US$ 453). Australia is one of the favorite destinations for young travelers who may work on farms to fund their trips during summer.
The move also supports the international tourism industry, which is still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels.
In the meantime, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against traveling to Australia. And on January 17, the European Union removed Australia from its recommendation list of countries where member states could lift travel restrictions.
Visa application fees for backpackers and international students waived
Australia’s economy is impaired by the number of workers sick or forced to isolate because they are in close contact with people who got Covid. Furthermore, the government is also criticized for a shortage of rapid at-home Covid test kits, whose prices have skyrocketed in some places.
In this context, the prime minister asked state leaders to drop requirements for workers in most industries to take rapid antigen tests every day. The federal state promised up to 52 million test kits would be flown into Australia this month.
The lack of workforce created supply chain disruptions. Leading major grocers reinstated purchase limits on some essential products because of shortages.
At the same time, almost 1.3 million people were affected by Covid-19 in the past two weeks, which accounts for 5% of Australia’s total population.
Rising hospitalizations put pressure on the healthcare system and the wave of the Omicron variant may not be at its peak yet.
Only fully vaccinated backpackers or students can come to Australia.