It was hailed as a long-belated resolution to an issue that had been pending for years, but the Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) program is yet to start.
The Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and Greece will allow 500 Greek citizens aged between 18 and 31 to travel, stay, and work legally in Australia for an entire year, and had been one of the “loose ends” looming over bilateral relations since 2014.
It was supposedly resolved in July, when the Greek parliament ratified the agreement, the result of a Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) initiative, making it law.
Despite the official announcement and publication in the Greek Government Gazette (ΦΕΚ B’ 4488/2017), so far no progress has been made.
Neos Kosmos has received messages from people wishing to lodge an application either for the Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) or the Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462), which allows holders to work for up to six or 12 months respectively. They have found that Greece is still not one of the countries eligible for the visa. Some have claimed to have talked with officers from Greece, who say that they have yet to receive the official directives.
The same is true for the Greek Embassy in Australia.
“We are waiting for a Government Circular which would outline the framework and provisions of the program,” says Ioannis Ferentinos, Head of the Mission at the Canberra Consular Office.
It is understood that the authority in charge is the Greek General Secretariat for Lifelong Learning & Youth (GGDVMNG) of the Ministry of Education Research and Religious Affairs, but according to some of our readers who have tried to contact the Secretariat, there has been no official timeframe for the start of the program.
Instead they have been encouraged to call again by the end of February.
Neos Kosmos also reached the Department of Home Affairs for comment:
“Australia remains committed to progressing discussions with Greece on a reciprocal Work and Holiday visa arrangement between our countries,” a spokesperson for the Department said. “We welcome the recent steps by the Greek Government to progress legislation that will allow for the implementation of a reciprocal arrangement between Australia and Greece. Once a commencement date for the arrangement has been mutually agreed by both partner countries, details of the Work and Holiday visa program will be published on the Department of Home Affairs’ website. Once implemented, the arrangement will allow young people from Greece, aged between 18 and 30, to apply to stay in Australia for one year and undertake short-term work and study. The same reciprocal conditions will also allow young Australians to work and holiday in Greece.”