The Australian Government commits to protect the health of Australians, supporting businesses and jobs, and securing food supply while we combat the COVID-19 virus. Hence, there are some protocols given for the Australian visa in Covid-19.

The Government is making a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the coronavirus crisis. These are being done to protect the health of our community, safeguard job opportunities for Australians, support critical industries and assist with the rapid recovery post the virus.

The priority of the Government during this period is public health. All temporary visa holders should follow public health advice with respect to COVID-19

Remaining in Australia lawfully

It is important that temporary visa holders retain a lawful status wherever possible. Whatever a person’s visa status, there is no barrier to engaging with the health system if they are sick.

Visitor Visa holder

Visitor visa holders in Australia should return home if it is possible to do so.

  • If you cannot return to your country, you need to maintain a valid visa and engage with the health system.
  • Visitor visa holders should apply for a new visa before their current visa expires to maintain their lawful status.
  • If a visitor has a “No Further Stay” condition on their visa (including 8503, 8534 or 8535) and less than two months’ validity remaining, they can request a waiver of this condition to allow them to lodge a new visa application.
  • Information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart is available at:
    https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/

International Students

  • The Government is taking a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions have prevented these conditions, such as attendance at class or the use of online learning. To know about student visa Click Here
  • The Government has temporarily relaxed the enforcement of the 40-hour work limitation for the following critical sectors:
    • International students who are existing workers in major supermarkets to help get stock on shelves due to high demand (implemented 7 March). These students will be required to return to the standard 40 hours a fortnight during term time from 1 May 2020
    • International students who are existing workers in the aged care sector are able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight (implemented on 18 March 2020)
  • Student visa holders who enrolled in nursing can undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19.
  • The arrangements only apply to existing workers in their existing roles.
  • As the COVID-19 situation develops, it will determine whether similar measures require in other critical sectors to ensure the supply of essential goods and services to Australians.
  • Student visas holders are already permitted to work in Australia with a usual limitation of 40 hours per fortnight.
  • If you are unable to support yourself, you should make arrangements to return to your usual country of residence, noting that it is a condition of all student visas that holders have access to funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay in Australia.

New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV)

  • New Zealanders and Australians have reciprocal arrangements whereby they can each stay and work in each other’s country
  • If you are a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and meet other eligibility requirements, you will be eligible for all welfare payments, including the Job Seeker and Job Keeper payments.
  • If you are not a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and you hold a TY444 visa, you will still be eligible for the Job Keeper payments through your employer.

What is a protected New Zealand citizen?

    • A person is a protected SCV New Zealand citizen holder if they fall within one of the following
      groups:

      • in Australia on 26 February 2001
      • in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before this date
      • assessed as a protected SCV by Services Australia holder before 26 February
    • If you are unable to support yourself, are not eligible for any of the above payments, and
      unable to find any employment, you should consider returning to New Zealand.

Employer sponsored temporary work visas Subclass 457, 482, 494

  • Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders who have 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 or the business being in breach of their employer obligations
  • 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.
  • If you cannot return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid visa and engage with the health system.
  • Information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart is available at:
    https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au

Working holiday makers

  • To support the critical sectors of health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing, and childcare, the Government is providing flexible arrangements with regard to the ongoing employment of Working Holiday Makers (WHMs).
  • WHMs working in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and will also be eligible for a further visa to continue working in these sectors 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.
  • Employers require to abide the all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.
  • You can apply for a further WHM visa if you have undertaken specified work for three months on your first WHM visa or six months on your second WHM visa.

Following industries and areas approved as specified work for subclass 417 (Working Holiday) visa holders:

  • The following industries and areas approved as specified work for subclass 462 (Work and Holiday) visa holders:
    • plant and animal cultivation in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia;
    • fishing and pearling in northern Australia only;
    • tree farming and felling in northern Australia only;
    • tourism and hospitality in northern Australia only;
    • construction in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia; and
    • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31 July 2019.
  • Existing arrangements for specified work will remain in place but the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist WHMs working in critical sectors who are not eligible to apply for a further WHM visa.
  • If you are unable to support yourself, you should make arrangements to return home.

Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa.

  • If you are working in the health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing or childcare sectors and unable to return your home country you can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event stream visa.
  • Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website at

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/temporary-activity-408/australian-government-endorsed-events

  • This visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia and continue working until it is safe.

Compiled by Amitava Deb, MARN 0429492,
as per the Department of Home Affairs Directive on 4 Apr 2020.

For further details please call +919082386651 (INDIA) or +61415882542 (Australia)