COVID-19 - Temporary Visa Work Arrangements

Following a great deal of speculation, the Minister for Immigration has finally announced the Australian Government's stance on temporary visa holders in Australia during the COVID-19 crisis.

The primary message is that Government support and funding is focused on Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents, and that temporary visa holders are expected to be able to support themselves or to depart Australia in order to access support in their home countries.

We explore some of the major announcements below:

Visitors and Tourists

Immigration encourages all international visitors to return to their home country as soon as possible.

There were no work or financial support arrangements announced for these visa holders, as it is expected that visitors and tourists should be able to support themselves during their stay in Australia.

International Students

Students unable to meet some of their visa conditions due to the Coronavirus (such as not being able to attend classes) are unlikely to have their visa cancelled.

The work limitations of 40 hours per fortnight still apply, however:

  • Students working in Aged Care and Nursing can work additional hours to support these sectors
  • Students who were employed at supermarkets as of 1 March are able to work additional hours until 1 May 2020
  • Students can work unlimited hours while their course is 'out of session' (i.e. during scheduled course breaks or if their course has been completed as scheduled) or if the course has been deferred

It is expected that International Students would have access to family funding, their own savings, and income from their ability to work part-time in order to financially support themselves in Australia.

Student visa holders who have been in Australia for more than 12 months who find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their superannuation. Please contact your Superannuation Fund provider for more information.

New Zealand Citizens

'Eligible' New Zealand Citizens (those who were living in Australia as of 26 February 2001) have the same entitlements as Australian permanent residents. Welfare and JobKeeper payments will be available.

Other New Zealand Citizens on Subclass 444 visas will have access to JobKeeper payments for limited periods. They are encouraged to return to New Zealand if they are unable to support themselves financially during this period.

Working Holiday Makers

Subclass 417 and 462 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 to allow them to stay and work temporarily.

Working holiday makers who are not working in critical sectors and who cannot depart should look at alternative visa options to remain in Australia. Please contact Acacia for further advice on your situation.

Again, Immigration recommends that working holiday makers make arrangements to depart Australia if they do not believe they will be able to support themselves during their stay here.

Temporary Work Visas (457 or 482)

Detailed information is available on our blog here.

Stay Informed

Immigration has made it very clear that the above arrangements will be under constant review, and can change with little or no warning. It is therefore important to ensure you have the most up-to-date information and understand your rights. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for the latest news and updates.

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