Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis: Changes to temporary visa holder arrangements

Over the weekend, the Australian Government announced significant changes to the arrangements of various temporary visa holders in Australia.

So far, concessions have been announced for Working Holiday Makers, Seasonal and Pacific workers, Skilled visa holders and international students.

The changes are summarised as follows:

Working Holiday Makers

  • Exemption from the six-month work limitation with one employer if working in health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing and childcare industries;
  • May be eligible for a further visa to continue employment in these sectors if their current visa is due to expire within the next six months;
  • If the Working Holiday Maker is working in a critical sector but is ineligible for a further Working Holiday visa and cannot return to their home country, they may be able to apply for a special Subclass 408 – Temporary Activity visa.

Early superannuation access for Temporary Skilled and Student visa holders

  • Temporary Skilled visa holders will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation to assist in supporting themselves during financial hardship;
  • International students who have been in Australia for at least 12 months will also be able to access their superannuation to assist in supporting themselves during financial hardship.

New Zealand citizens – eligibility for welfare

  • New Zealand citizens holding Subclass 444 visas and who arrived before 26 February 2001 are eligible to access both the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments;
  • New Zealand citizens holding Subclass 444 visas and who arrived after 26 February 2001 are eligible to access only the JobKeeper payments. If they have lived in Australia for at least 10 years, they will also be eligible for JobSeeker payments for 6 months.

International students – work limitations

  • International students working in supermarkets will have their maximum working hours returned to no more than 40 hours per fortnight on 1 May 2020;
  • International students working in critical areas including nursing and aged care will continue to be allowed to work for more than 40 hours per fortnight;
  • The Government is advising that international students who are unable to support themselves should consider returning to their home countries.

Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders

  • Subclass 482 visa holders who have been stood down (but not laid off) will maintain their visa validity;
  • Sponsors will have the opportunity to extend Subclass 482 holders’ visas as per normal arrangements.
  • Sponsors will also be able to reduce the working hours of the Subclass 482 visa holder without breaching any visa or sponsorship obligations.

While we do not yet have specifics regarding how soon these changes will be available to visa holders and how visa holders can apply for these concessions, we will continue to keep a close watch on the situation and post any updates as soon as they become available.

If you are a temporary visa holder and have been impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, we can assist you in navigating the newly introduced concessions, requesting “No Further Stay” waivers and looking into any other ways to extend your stay in Australia.

We are still open and can speak with you over the phone, Skype or WhatsApp. Call us at 08 9228 0300 or send an email to mail@rothsteinlawyers.com to book an appointment.

We hope you are keeping safe and staying well and during these uncertain and difficult times.