The federal government is offering a reprieve to current visa holders, declaring it will refund or waive application charges for select temporary visa holders affected by coronavirus travel restrictions.
Temporary skilled workers and visitor visa holders will be eligible to have the visa application charge for a subsequent visa application waived, which will allow them to return to Australia once international borders re-open.
Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge says the goal is to ensure that Australia is viable for tourists and temporary visa holders who often fill critical skills shortages.
"Well, we'll have the slowest population growth since World War One. And largely because the borders have been closed for so long and will only be steadily opening those borders, as the health conditions allow us to. But because population growth is so slow we need to work additionally hard on the other economic leaders to get the economy growing again. So this will impact tens of thousands of people who have already paid for their visa, but have been unable to come due to COVID. And our ambition here is, in most cases, to give those people a voucher, so that they're more likely to come back to Australia, when the borders reopen."
From a community perspective, AMES Australia Chief Executive's Cath Scarth says it's a significant move in unprecedented times.
"It was a good step, considering many people had already paid for visas or were on the cusp of travelling and then were not able to. I think it's a good step that government has sought to provide a waiver or a voucher for those visa charges. And obviously that's going to be important to us once the borders re-open so that people can come back to Australia, whether it's visitors or temporary workers.. removing that barrier, given they paid for something they weren't able to receive, I think it's a positive step."
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