On Saturday 4 April 2020, the Government announced changes to support most Temporary Visa holders who have been stood down or have lost work hours due to the COVID-19 crisis. Here’s what you need to know.
Temporary Skilled Visa Holders
Temporary Skilled Visa holders that have been stood down but not laid off may be able to:
- Maintain their visa validity;
- Have working hours reduced without this being considered a breach of business sponsorship obligations;
- Access up to $10,000 of their superannuation for this financial year;
- Have their visa extended by the business if eligible, as per normal circumstances.
Temporary Skilled Visa holders that have been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis will need to leave the country unless they are able to find a new sponsor within 60 days, as per the usual requirements.
Should a 4-year Temporary Skilled Visa holder be re-employed, their time already spent in Australia prior to the COVID-19 pandemic will count towards their Permanent Residence skilled work experience requirements.
Working Holiday and Seasonal Workers
Working Holiday Maker Subclass 417 and 462 Visa holders who work in the health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare sectors may be able to:
- Work with the same employer for more than 6 months without this being considered a breach of their visa conditions;
- Be eligible for a further visa to work in these sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next 6 months.
Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers may also extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers.
Employers must commit to providing agricultural workers with safe accommodation that complies with social distancing measures and visa holders must register for quarantine requirements before proceeding to a regional area.
Student Visa Holders
Student Visa holders may be able to:
- Access their superannuation if they have been in Australia longer than 12 months and find themselves in financial hardship;
- Work extended hours in the aged care sector or as a nurse;
- Work extended hours in supermarkets (however from 1 May, this will return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight);
The Government intends to be flexible in cases where the COVID-19 crisis has prevented international students from meeting visa conditions, such as attending classes.
It will also further engage with education providers.
Graduate Visa Holders
Graduate Visa Holders may be able to:
- Access their superannuation if needed for support.
New Zealanders on Subclass 444 Visas
New Zealanders on Subclass 444 Visas may be able to:
- Access welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment if they arrived before 26 February 2001;
- Access JobKeeper payments if they arrived after 26 February 2001 and access JobSeeker payments for six months if they have lived in Australia for 10 years or more.
Visitor Visa Holders and Other Temporary Visa Holders
The Government strongly encourages Visitor Visa holders and any other Temporary Visa Holders that are unable to support themselves through the above provisions to return to their home country as soon as possible – unless they can access family support or personal savings to sustain themselves.
We understand there may be some people on a Visitor Visa that are at a higher risk of infection or may prefer visa extension options to stay with friends and family in Australia at this difficult time.
We are here to support you
Given that the Government is now encouraging Temporary Visa holders to return home where possible, you may wish to seek professional advice if you would like to stay.