COVID-19 and Temporary Visa Holders

New COVID-19 Pandemic Visa

Listen to Manuela Seiberth’s interview with ABC News Radio about COVID-19 aka. Coronavirus and the effects of the pandemic on visa holders in Australia. It also includes important information about the new COVID-19 Visa.

Manuela is the founder & director at Northern Immigration Australia.

New COVID-19 Pandemic Visa

On 6 April 2020, the Australian Government announced the new COVID-19 Pandemic Visa.

It allows eligible people to:
– remain in Australia if you have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions; and
– remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors including healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no Government charge for this Visa.

Please contact us immediately, if you are working in any of the critical industries: https://northernimmigration.com.au/contact-us/

Listen to Manuela Seiberth’s interview with ABC News Radio about COVID-19 aka. Coronavirus and the effects of the pandemic on visa holders in Australia. It also includes important information about the new COVID-19 Visa.

Key messages

  • COVID-19 is a temporary crisis.
  • The Department of Home Affairs + other Government agencies are still operating and processing visas.
  • WE are still operating with an experienced team of Immigration Lawyers, Registered Migration Agents and Education Agents.
  • Onshore: stay lawful + plan at least 3 months ahead.
  • Offshore: you can’t come to Australia until you have a visa.
  • Both onshore + offshore: Use this time to prepare for your next steps: work on your English to improve your English test scores, apply for your skills assessment, start visa application process.
  • If your circumstances change, notify the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Travel rights: temporary visa holders are allowed to leave Australia.

Coronavirus and Temporary Visa Holders

The Australian Government has made significant changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic in order to protect the health and livelihoods, support critical industries, and assist with the rapid recovery post the virus.

Read our summary of the key points for the following groups:

1) International Students + 485 Graduate Visa holders

2) 457 + 482 Work Visa holders

3) 417 + 462 Working Holiday Makers

4) NZ citizens

There are 2.17 million people presently in Australia on a temporary visa.

While citizens, permanent residents and many New Zealanders have access to unconditional work rights and government payments (including the new JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments), temporary visa holders do not.

In line with changes being made for Australian citizens and permanent residents, most temporary visa holders with work rights will now be able to access their Australian Superannuation to help support themselves during this crisis.

Temporary visa holders who are unable to support themselves under these arrangements over the next 6 months are strongly encouraged to return home.

Changes are also geared toward enabling temporary visa holders to remain in key industries:

  • Health
  • Aged and disability care
  • Child care
  • Agriculture
  • Food processing

1) INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

There are 565,000 international students in Australia, mainly studying in the higher education or vocational education sector. They are an important contributor to Ausralia’s tertiary sector and economy, supporting 240,000 Australian jobs.

Students are encouraged to rely on family support, part-time work where available and their own savings to sustain themselves in Australia. As part of their visa application, international students have had to demonstrate that they can support themselves completely in their first year.

Students who have been here longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their Australian Superannuation.

The Government will undertake further engagement with the international education sector who already provide some financial support for international students facing hardship. For example, we understand there are some education providers that are providing fee discounts to international students.

The Government will also be flexible in cases where Coronavirus has prevented international students meeting their visa conditions (such as not being able attend classes).

International students are able to work up to 40 hours per fortnight.

International students working in aged care and as nurses have had these hours extended to support these critical sectors.

International students working in the major supermarkets had also had these hours extended to help get stock on shelves during the high demand. From 1 May 2020, their hours will return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight as more Australians are being recruited into these roles.

485 Graduate Visa holders are able to access their Australian Superannuation.

2) 457 + 482 VISA HOLDERS
There are around 139,000 temporary skilled visa holders, on either a 2 year or 4 year visa. They were provided the visa to fill a skills shortage – a shortage that may still be present when the crisis has passed.

Consequently, those 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 condition.

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

Those visa holders who have been laid off due to Coronavirus should leave the country in line with existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. However, should a 4-year visa holder be re-employed after the coronavirus pandemic, their time already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residency skilled work experience requirements.

3) 417 + 462 WORKING HOLIDAY MAKERS
There are about 118,000 people in Australia on a Working Holiday visa (or backpacker visa) – a visa which provides conditional work rights.

To support the critical sectors of health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare, some limited flexibility will be provided.

In particular, working holiday makers who are working in these critical sectors will be exempt from six months work limitation with the one employer and 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.

In general, working holiday makers that do not have the confidence to sustain themselves over the next 6 months should make arrangements to leave the country.

4) NEW ZEALANDERS on 444 visas
New Zealanders and Australians have reciprocal arrangements whereby they can each stay and work in each other’s country. There are more than 672,000 New Zealanders in Australia on a subclass 444 visa.

New Zealanders who are on 444 visas and arrived before 26 February 2001 will have access to welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment.

444 visa holders who arrived after 2001 have access to the JobKeeper payment. They do not have access to JobSeeker or other welfare payments.

New Zealanders should consider returning to NZ if they are unable to support themselves through these provisions, work or family support.

All onshore temporary visa holders

  • Stay lawful = apply for new visa before the current one expires. If you let your visa expire and remain in Australia you are considered unlawful which can have significant ramifications such as detention, deportation and entry bans.
  • Plan at least 3 months ahead.
  • Communicate with the Department of Home Affairs: obligation to inform about changes in your circumstances within 14 days.

How we can help

If your visa is affected by the COVID-19 crisis, we are offering a FREE 15 minutes call – book here (limited spots available): https://northernimmigration.com.au/free-consultation2/

Stay strong, healthy & happy! This is a temporary crisis – prepare for your future now!

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2 Comments

  1. Harsh on April 16, 2020 at 2:00 am

    Hi Northern Immigration Australia!
    Thanks for providing us with this information – very helpful!
    My friends have recommended you and I would like to discuss my visa with you. How can I speak with you during Coronavirus and social distancing?

    • Northern Immigration Australia on April 16, 2020 at 9:29 am

      Dear Harsh,
      Thanks! We are happy to hear our information is helping! It’s nice your friends have recommended our Migration Agency services!
      During COVID-19 we are offering all our consultations by video or audio call. You can choose between Skype, WhatsApp or telephone. Please book your consultation here
      We look forward to speaking with you soon!

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