Last week we wrote about the impact that COVID-19 was having on Australia Visa applications and it looks like the Australian government is taking action to address those left in limbo by the pandemic. This week they announced the introduction of a new visa option – the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa which will be made available under the Australian Temporary Activity Visa. subclass 408.
COVID-19 Pandemic visa – What Is it?
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
The Department of Home Affairs 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; and are unable to apply for the same temporary visa they hold or held or any other subclass of temporary visa other than the Subclass 408 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.
‘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.
COVID-19 Pandemic Visa 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.
COVID-19 Pandemic Visa 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.
COVID-19 Pandemic Visa Validity Period?
‘The COVID-19 visa may be granted for 12 months for participants in the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Schemes,’ the spokesperson said.