April 4, 2020

The Government of Australia is introducing a number of changes under temporary visa holder conditions and arrangements to cope with the ongoing corona virus catastrophe in order to protect the overall health and livelihoods of Australians, help and support critical industries and assist the rapid recovery post the crisis will be eradicated.

Although, temporary visa holders are perceived to be extremely important for the Australian economy and its way of life, but accepting the current reality since many Australians could find themselves unemployed and out of work due to the dual health as well as economic crisis that the entire subcontinent is facing and therefore the Australians and permanent residents should be the Australia Government’s number one focus.

Visa Changes

The following are some new measures that will apply to the important classes of temporary visa holders across Australia. The particular situation will be reviewed periodically and further changes will be made by the government if required.

Visitor Visa Holders

All individuals with visitor visas, that are typically going to expire in next three months, are encouraged to return back to their home countries, especially if they are not able to access family support on the foreign land.

International Students:

  • Students are suggested to rely on family support, part-time employment options (if available) and savings.
  • Students that are residing in Australia for more than 12 months now and are facing financial hardship will be given access to Australian superannuation.

  • Flexibility will be provided for cases where COVID-19 pandemic has prevented international students to meet their mandatory visa conditions, for instance not being able to attend regular classes at universities and colleges.
  • Starting from May 1, 2020, the Australian Government will increase the working hours of international students to a maximum of 40 hours in two weeks to support the demand of employees of in major supermarkets.

Working holiday makers supporting critical sectors:

  • Working holiday makers who are employed in health, agriculture and food processing, aged and disability care and childcare centers will be excluded from the six month work limitation, however with only one employer and will be made eligible for a further visa extension for them to keep working in these crucial sectors if the expiration dates for their visa is due in next six months.
  • Working holiday makers who are apprehensive on sustaining themselves for the next six months are encouraged to leave the country and return back to their respective home lands.

New Zealanders on 444 Visas

  • New Zealand nationals holding Subclass 444 visas and have arrived in Australia before February 26, 2001 will be given complete access to welfare payments along with the Job Keeper payment.
  • New Zealand nationals holding Subclass 444 visas and have arrived in Australia after 2001 will be given complete access to the Job Keeper payment but would be devoid of accessing the job seeker payments along with other important welfare payments.
  • New Zealand nationals are also encouraged to consider returning back to their home country if they are not able to support themselves through government provisions, employment and family support.

Temporary Skilled Visa Holders (on either 2 year or 4 year visa)

  • Temporary Skilled Visa Holders, who have been stood down by their employers but are not laid off, will continue to maintain their visa validity and will be given the opportunity to extend it according to normal arrangements. They could also have their employment hours reduced without the person being in breach of mandatory visa conditions.
  • Temporary Visa Holders will also be able to access their superannuation for the current financial year worth$10,000.
  • Temporary Skilled Visa Holders who have been laid off by their employers due to corona virus crisis are suggested to leave the country in line with the current visa conditions; especially if they are not able to secure a new sponsor. However, to consider a 4-year visa holder to be re-employed after the COVID-19 pandemic, their total time spent in Australia will be counted towards their permanent residency skilled work experience eligibility requirements.

For more details, visit: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/Coronavirus-and-Temporary-Visa-holders.aspx

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