Australian immigration: clarifications for temporary visa holders

What temporary changes to temporary visa holders did the Australian government announce, as a result of COVID-19?

Map showing Australia
On 4 April 2020, the Australian government announced temporary immigration changes for temporary visa holders.The following are clarifications provided a result of vague and incomplete information provided by the Australian government and various media releases, provided by Australian Immigration Specialists.Temporary visa holders are 'extremely valuable to the Australian economy and way of life' as stated by the Acting Minister of Immigration Alan Tudge. The Department of Immigration continues to accept, process and grant visa applications including employer sponsored visas. The Department has not made a decision to remove or deport any visa holder as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. There are no changes to visa requirements. Applicants currently offshore will be able to enter Australia as soon as travel restrictions are lifted unless an exemption applies ie for health care workers and family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents.

Employer Sponsored Temporary Work Visa Holders - 457, 482, 407, 494

Temporary Work Visa Holders will be able to maintain rights to remain in Australia if the holder:
  • continues to work as usual
  • has hours reduced temporarily
  • has been stood down temporarily and will be re-employed
  • transfers their visa to another employer
  • applies for a renewal of their visa
  • applies for another visa eg permanent residency visa ENS186 or other visa options if eligible
  • in the case the holder has been laid off and arranges a visa transfer to another sponsoring employer or if the holder applies for another visa, more than 60 days time will be permitted until the holder receives a notice to provide an update in relation to their situation, the department was never strict about the 60 day rule previously
  • for visa holders who require extra financial support, their Australian Superannuation funds can be accessed
  • for visa holders who are re-employed, time spent in Australia during periods of no work or reduced work hours will still count towards permanent residency skilled work experience requirements for those eligible

International Students in Australia

International Students are 'an important contributor to our tertiary sector and economy, supporting 240,000 Australian jobs'. Students who wish to remain in Australia can do so if they can rely on part-time work where available, family support and their own savings. Students are also encouraged to explore new job opportunities in areas of need, refer to further info below. For extra financial support, Australian Superannuation funds can be accessed. In addition, educational institutions are offering financial support to students such as payment plans and discounts to course fees. The Department of Immigration will be lenient to those who cannot attend classes during this period.Students who work in critical sectors such as health care will be permitted to work more than 40 hours per fortnight. Please contact us if you wish to enrol in a new course or renew your student visa.

Working Holiday Visa Holders - 417 and 462

Workers in critical sectors including health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer to continue working and will be eligible for a further visa. Other workers who do not have sufficient work and who wish to remain in Australia are encouraged to explore new job opportunities in areas of need as well as other visa options and where necessary rely on their own savings, family support or access Australian Superannuation funds. Refer to further info below re new job opportunities.

Visitor Visa Holders

Visitor visa holders can remain in Australia for as long as their visa permits and as long as they can support themselves financially. It is possible to renew visitor visas depending on each individual situation. Restrictions such as the 8503 no further stay condition can be waived. For those who qualify, other visa options may be available including skilled visas and employer sponsorship.

New Zealanders on 444 visas

New Zealanders are eligible for welfare payments if their income and residency status meet requirements. Permanent Residency visa options also exist for those who qualify including skills exemptions.

Other Temporary Visa Holders

Other temporary visa holders who do not have sufficient work and who wish to remain in Australia are encouraged to explore options for work in areas of need as well as other visa options and where necessary rely on their own savings, family support or access Australian Superannuation funds during the crisis period. Refer to further info below re new job opportunities:

New Job Opportunities during COVID-19

Demand for workers has increased in various sectors of the economy. Explore new job opportunities via the Department of Education Jobs Hub and the Seek Job Portal. Temporary options also exist to work for free rent and food.

Read more about International Assignments, or visit our Coronavirus resource page.


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