Australia-Greece Work Out Visa Swap Program for 500 Students

Deputy Minister for Greeks Living Abroad Terence Quick. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

Australia and Greece have finalized a Work and Holiday Visa agreement making it easier for students to stay and study in each other’s country for a year, available for those in the 18-to-30-year old age bracket.

The agreement was being worked on for nearly five years and was ratified by the Greek Parliament in December, 2015 and will come into effect on July 1, SBS News said, offering 500 slots in each country for the recipients who are selected.

The agreement was finalised after a series of delays during the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Terens Quick’s visit to Australia, where in February, he was declared persona non grata by the Pan-Macedonian Federation for backing a deal Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras made to give away the name of the province of Macedonia in renaming The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to North Macedonia.

Quick was elected to Parliament as the top vote-getter for the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are opposed to the name deal, leading party leader and former defense minister Panos Kamenos to pull out of a coalition with SYRIZA.

Quick didn’t go along with Kammenos as he would likely have lost his position as a minister if he did but he has been panned by critics for his about-face.

At a Greek Independence Day celebration in Australia, Quick was targeted again by some 20 protesters outside an event who screamed “traitors,” although the demonstration was far smaller than the previous one earlier this year.

Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman welcomed the visa agreement and said, “Australia enjoys a great friendship with Greece and there has been much interest from Greece in participating in the Work and Holiday visa program. This announcement will provide more opportunities for work and cultural exchange between our nations,” said Neos Kosmos.

To become eligible for a second working visa, Greek nationals would have to perform specified work in regional areas. If they perform six months of regional work in their second year, they will be eligible to extend their stay in Australia for a third year, the paper also said.

The announcement takes the number of countries participating in the Working Holiday Maker program to 43. Melbourne is home to the largest Greek population, outside of Greece.