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HOW WILL CORONAVIRUS AFFECT THOSE LIVING IN AUSTRALIA

14 Apr 2020

If you are in Australia on a temporary visa and it is about to expire – don’t panic! The Australian government recognises the important part that temporary visa holders play in the Australian economy and society so they have introduced several changes to help temporary visa holders during the coronavirus crisis. These changes have been geared toward enabling temporary visa holders to remain in key industries, such as health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing and most temporary visa holders with work rights will now be able to access their Australian superannuation to help support themselves during this crisis. 

Working Holiday Visas

Working Holiday Maker visas cannot be extended. However, if you have completed three or six months of specified work in Australia, you may be able to apply for a second or third Working Holiday Maker visa.
If you are on a Working Holiday Visa and working in a critical sector (health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing, and childcare) you will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer and will also be eligible for a further visa to continue working if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months. If a WHM is working in the critical sectors of health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing or childcare but is not eligible for a further WHM visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply for Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa.

Visitor Visas

Those on visitor visas are being asked to return home if it is possible to do so. The stay period on an existing visa cannot be extended. Your visa will cease if you are still in Australia at the end of your permitted stay period. If you cannot depart Australia within the permitted stay period on your visa, you should apply for a further visa before the date on which your visa ceases. If you are unable to leave Australia, within the permitted stay period on your visa, you need to apply for another visa before your current visa expires, and make sure that you have the relevant healthcare cover. If you have a “No Further Stay” condition on your visa (including 8503, 8534 or 8535) and less than two months validity remaining, you can request a waiver of this condition to allow you to lodge a new visa application.

Employer-Sponsored Temporary Work Visas (457 and 482)

Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders 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 will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa conditions. Those who are laid off (that is, they are unemployed) should find another employer within 60 days or make arrangements to depart Australia, where this is possible. 

These visa holders will also be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year.

International Students

The Government is taking a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions have prevented conditions being met, such as attendance at class or use of online learning. The Government has temporarily relaxed the enforcement of the 40-hour work limitation for those in existing work in major supermarkets and the aged care sector.

Bridging Visas

Your Bridging visa will keep you lawfully in Australia until a decision has been made on your substantive visa application. If your substantive visa is not granted, and you are unable to depart Australia, you will need to apply for a further Bridging visa to keep you lawful. If your visa has expired or is about to expire you are encouraged to return home but if you are unable to you can apply for a bridging visa to remain lawful. You might be allowed to work in Australia depending on the conditions of your Bridging visa. Your grant letter will tell you about these conditions.

See if you have work restrictions by using https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/already-have-a-visa/check-visa-details-and-conditions/overview

Subclass 408 Visa – Temporary Activity Visa

The Subclass 408 visa is a Temporary Activity visa that allows the holder a temporary stay in Australia to do specific types of work.

There are 10 streams available under the Subclass 408 visa, which allows people to access this visa in a variety of situations. One of the streams under the Subclass 408 visa is for ‘Australian Government endorsed events’ (AGEE). On 4th April 2020, the Government listed the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic as relevant ‘event’. Thus, there is now a new COVID-19 Pandemic event visa option available.

To apply for the new COVID-19 Pandemic event visa, you must:

• Be onshore in Australia
• Hold a visa that is 28 days or less from expiring, OR has held a substantive visa within the last 28 days
• Be unable to apply for the same temporary visa you hold or held
• Be unable to apply for any subclass of temporary visa other than the Subclass 408 visa
• Be engaged in, or have the relevant skills to, undertake critical work relating to the supply of essential goods and services related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, such as healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture.

The new COVID-19 Pandemic event visa does not attract a Visa Application Charge (VAC). The visa is only available to people who are onshore and have 28 days or less remaining on their current visa or where their last substantive visa has expired up to 28 days previously. You must hold eligible health insurance, have enough money to support yourself and any dependent family members on your family, and will only be able to stay in Australia for the duration of the Pandemic event.

For more detailed information on the temporary working visas and COVID-19 check out the department of home affairs Frequently Asked Questions section;

https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/frequently-asked-questions

If you are concerned about access to healthcare, please follow the link below to the Medicare website where you can find out about reciprocal health care arrangements and how to register.

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements/when-you-visit-australia

If you are struggling financially you may be eligible for support if you have been affected by COVID-19 and have Australian citizenship or permanent residency. The Australian Government Services website has the information you need.

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/news/more-financial-support-people-affected-coronavirus

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