Reply To: Do I need a work holiday visa to volunteer?

Home Forums General Discussion about WWOOFing Do I need a work holiday visa to volunteer? Reply To: Do I need a work holiday visa to volunteer?


Which Visa do I need to WWOOF?
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:

Working Holiday Visa (417)
Working Holiday Visa (462)
Visitor Visa – Tourist Stream (subclass 600) *see note below
Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601), *see note below
eVisitor (subclass 651),
Student Visa,
*Visitor Visas (Tourist)

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 and 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.

DIBP say this about Visitor Visas – Tourist stream:

This visa lets you:

have a holiday or visit family and friends in Australia
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 to receive meals, accommodation and/ or reimbursement of out-of-pocket living expenses in return for voluntary work.
For all of the above visas, please see the DIBP website for conditions.
See the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship Website or if you need to talk to someone, by phone, Monday – Friday 8.30am – 4.30pm on 131 881

WWOOFing (Volunteering) 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 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. WWOOF does NOT have any influence over DIBP, and they do not advise WWOOF if they alter the Rules, the most current information is always on their website

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