International students
International students working in agriculture could be eligible for cash bonus. Source: Philippe Lopez/AFP

International students who work in Australia’s farms or agriculture sector could be eligible for a cash bonus payment. Job seekers who take up a seasonal harvest job on a Victorian farm on or after Wednesday, Feb.17, 2021 can apply for the Seasonal Harvest Sign-on Bonus. Students who apply soon may be eligible for an 810 Australian dollar cash bonus if they work 10 days within a 30-day period. 

There are currently plenty of short-term work opportunities on Australian farms. The agriculture sector has been experiencing labour shortages due to the pandemic, with border restrictions preventing workers from entering the country for the peak harvesting season. Here’s what international students should know about the cash bonus scheme:

Work 10 days in horticulture to be eligible for the cash bonus

International students with work rights in Australia are eligible for the bonus, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. According to the Victorian government, to be eligible for the bonus, applicants must:

  • have the right to work in Australia
  • be working on a farm that produces fruit, dried fruit, vegetables, olives, nuts, wine grapes, hops or herbs
  • be working on-farm in picking, packing and harvesting activities, including operating harvest machinery
  • start work on a Victorian farm on or after 17 February 2021
  • not be employed under the Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme
  • submit your application by June 30, 2021

“Victoria’s farmers need more workers to help with this season’s harvest. If you started in a harvest job before Feb. 17, 2021, or you have worked on-farm in the Victorian agriculture industry in the three months prior to taking a harvest job, you won’t be eligible for the bonus,” notes the state government.

Due to exceptional circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to ensure the supply of critical services, the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force is taking a flexible approach to student visa holders working beyond their usual work limitations in specified industries. International students can work for more than 40 hours a fortnight if they are employed in the agriculture sector. Interested students should submit their applications soon as applications close on June 30.