Coronavirus / COVID-19 – Visa Arrangements

With much speculation and confusion around about the arrangements for visa holders during the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve tried to distill the key facts for you below:

Extension to the Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) for Coronavirus

The Department Of Home Affairs has introduced extensions to the sub-class 408 “temporary activity visa” to specifically cover arrangements for the COVID-19 Pandemic.

This special visa class may allow non-residents to:
– remain in Australia if they have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
– remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors including healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic visa is Free!

For more details visa: The Department of Home Affairs website

Extension to Working Holiday visas (subclass 417 and 462) during the Coronavirus pandemic

Subclass 417 and 462 working holiday visa holders currently employed in critical sectors will be able to work beyond their 6-month limitation without needing to make a formal request for permission.

Critical sectors include:
– Health care, Aged care, and Disability care
– Agriculture (plant and animal cultivation)
– Food processing (including fruit-picking)
– Childcare

Existing 417 or 462 visa holders working in critical sectors who are unable to meet the 3 or 6 months specified work for a second or third year working holiday maker, and who are not able to return to their home country can apply for a special Subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa (as above) to allow them to stay and work temporarily.

Employer Sponsored visas (Subclass 400, 407, 457 and 482)

If employment for a person holding a sponsored visa is terminated, they would generally have 60 days to depart Australia, or find a new sponsor, or lodge a different type of visa to stay before Immigration would consider you to be in breach of the work conditions and look to cancel your sponsored visa.

Employers should consider providing sponsored staff with Leave Without Pay due the exceptional circumstances of the Coronavirus, rather than layoffs that would normally trigger the cancellation of the sponsored visa.

Employees will need to formally request the leave without pay from their employer and both have to agree by signing such a request. This is generally taken to be a maximum period of 3 months but due to the exceptional circumstances, please seek clarification at the time if this can be extended for another 3 months.

Immigration have taken the view that visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus should leave Australia if they are unable to secure a new sponsor.

However, the Minister for Home Affairs has also announced: “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”.

If you hold a temporary work visa sponsored or supported by an employer then legally you can only work for that employer and cannot work for any other business or for yourself. This includes contract or casual work. If you need to change employer, the new employer will need to have a new nomination approved before you can start working with them.

We suggest contacting an Immigration Consultant to advise you on your options moving forward.

Exemptions to 8104/8105 conditions on Student Visas (subclass 500) during Coronavirus pandemic

Under the standard 8104/8105 work conditions, 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.

Subclass 500 student visa holders working in the major supermarkets had also had these hours extended to help get stock on shelves during the high demand. From 1 May, their hours will return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight as more Australians are being recruited into these roles.