Coronavirus Updates for Temporary Visa Holders & 408 Pandemic Visa
The Minister Hon. Alan Tudge MP has now released a statement regarding how temporary visa holders will be affected by Coronavirus, and a number of measures in place to provide concessions for those affected. The most critical aspect of the release was that the Minister suggested those who cannot support themselves during the following six months should return home. The Department have also released a new subclass 408 visa for individuals who are stuck in Australia and cannot return home, but need to maintain their lawful status.
Concessions & Measures
The most recent media release by the Minister has outlined that Temporary Visa Holders, like Australian Citizens and Permanent residents will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the coming months.
Subclass 600 and E-visitor/ETA Holder’s
Those in Australia on various visitor visas in Australia as tourists are being encouraged to return home as soon as possible, particularly those without family support.
444 Visa Holders
New Zealanders’ in Australia on Subclass 444 Special Category Visas and who arrived before the 26th February 2001 (Protected SCV Holders) will have access to various social security support systems such as the JobKeeper payments and welfare payments. Those who have been in Australia for 10 years’ or more since the above date will have access to JobSeeker payments for six months. New Zealand citizens who do not fall into these categories have been urged to consider returning home if they are unable to support themselves through these provisions.
482/457 Visa Holders
Temporary Skilled Visa holders have been advised that those who have been stood down but not laid off will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Businesses have also been advised that they will be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without falling foul of their sponsorship obligations. Those that have had their employment ceased will still be expected to abide by their visa conditions, meaning that they will have 60 or 90 days to find another sponsor depending on when their employer sponsored visa was granted. If they are unable to find another sponsor they will be expected to depart the country.
The Minister has not been clear whether time spent whilst laid off will count towards the three years required for transition through the 186 visa.
Working Holiday Visa Holders
The Minister has announced a waiver for the six-month employment requirement for those in critical sectors including health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare. They will also be eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
Student Visa Holders
International students have been particularly affected by the effects of Coronavirus. Students are currently being urged to rely on family support, part-time work and where available their own savings. The Government has also announced that it will be flexible in cases where the Coronavirus has prevented them from meeting their student visa conditions.
International students in the aged care sector and as nurses have had these hours extended to support those critical sectors, as well as those working in major supermarkets. However from the 1st of May, their hours will return to the maximum 40 hours per fortnight as more Australians are recruited into the roles.
Extending your Stay in Australia
Currently those onshore with a visa expiring soon have few options for remaining lawful. Many visa holders are unable to leave for a number of practical reasons out of their control, including flight cancellations and border closures. In the interim, the current trend has been to lodge subclass 600 Visitor Visas, or alternatively for those who cannot afford the further visa application charge, to become unlawful and subsequently lodge a Bridging Visa E application.
On the 6th of April 2020, the Government announced a new stream for the Subclass 408 Visa. The COVID-19 Pandemic Event stream is being opened for those who meet strict criteria.
This visa is very new, and information is still being released. In short, we understand that the following criteria is applicable;
- In Australia and unable to depart due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- You must not be eligible to lodge any other visa; and
- Your visa must be expiring in 28 days or less; or alternatively your visa expired not more than 28 days before the application was made; and
- Your work must relate to critical work relating to supply of essential goods and services
How We Can Help
Our Registered Migration Agents can assist in may ways, including:
- Providing advice on your options in the circumstances; and
- Advising on potential issues for future visa applications and migration strategies in light of Coronavirus.
Our Registered Migration Agents can analyse your circumstances, identify any areas of risk and discuss the most appropriate strategy to meet your goals. If you would like to know if we can assist in other ways, feel free to contact us using the below form or at firstname.lastname@example.org.