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COVID-19 pandemic: Australia introduces new visa option

Australia visa Source: Stock Photo

Australia has introduced a new visa option for those who are unable to depart Australia and also to address workforce shortages rising in critical sectors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new visa option - the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa, is available under subclass 408.


Highlights:

  • There are 2.17 million temporary visa holders in the country
  • Of this, more than 565,000 are student visa holders and 139,000 are temporary skilled visa holders
  • New visa option is free and will allow those unable to leave, stay lawfully in Australia 

The purpose of the new visa option is to provide a pathway for certain former and current holders of temporary visas to lawfully remain in Australia and to also address the workforce shortages in critical areas like agriculture, aged care and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Pandemic visa will allow the applicant to:

    • remain in Australia if they have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
    • remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors including healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who can apply for this visa?

The Department of Home Affairs (DoHA) has stated ‘the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa is only available to people who are onshore and have 28 days or less remaining on their current visa or where their last substantive visa has expired up to 28 days previously.’

You must be in Australia to be granted the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.

'The visa is also available to working holidaymakers who are working in critical sectors and who are not eligible for a further working holiday visa. Critical sectors include health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing and child care,' a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Hindi.

'Other temporary visa holders who are in Australia, and whose visa is about to cease but are unable to return home or apply for another visa, are able to apply for the COVID-19 visa as a last resort to ensure they remain lawful.

'The Department will consider each application on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the person’s country of origin circumstances,' the spokesperson said.

What are the fees?

It is free.

“If you are applying for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa, you do not have to pay the visa application charge,” the DoHA website says.

What are work rights?

‘Work rights will be limited to those who are granted a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa for the purpose of permitting them to work in an area of critical need such as agriculture, health, aged and disability care, and childcare,’ the DoHA has said.

What will the validity be?

'The COVID-19 visa may be granted for 12 months for participants in the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Schemes,' the spokesperson said.

More information available here and here.

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People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

Disclaimer: We’d like to point out that the information contained in this segment is general and is not specific advice. If you would like accurate information relevant to your situation, you should consult a registered migration agent.

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