New Temporary Visa Measures In Place
The Government has announced temporary visa measures to help with the continuity of essential goods and services in response to COVID-19. This concerns those who are holding a 408 visa, a temporary residence visa, those on a Seasonal Worker Programme or Working Holiday Makers.
– Working holiday makers who are employed in critical sectors including agriculture, health, aged and disability care and childcare will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer.
– Working holiday makers employed in critical sectors who haven’t completed the 3 or 6 months of specified work required to apply for a second or third Working Holiday Maker visa, and are unable to leave Australia, may be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa. This visa will allow working holiday makers to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, if they wish to do so, until they can return to their home country.
– Those already in Australia with the Seasonal Worker Program, whose visas are expiring, will be able to extend their stay in Australia by applying for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa.
– Holders of other temporary work visas currently employed in critical sectors may also be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa.
– Temporary residence visa holders will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year.
Seasonal Worker Programme Updates
Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers (ensuring pastoral care and accommodation needs of workers are met to minimise health risks to visa holders and the community).
Approved employers under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme will need to continue engaging with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on labour market testing to ensure recruitment of Australians first.
Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) Updates
Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
Conditions will be placed upon visa holders to self-isolate for 14 days before taking up employment in a different region (including termination of visas where there is non-compliance).
Employers will need to commit to providing safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements.
An arrangement will also need to be in place for a declaration between employers and employees that all protocols necessary to ensure human health and accommodation requirements have been met.
408 Visa Updates
The Subclass 408 visa is free if you are affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It allows you to:
– Remain in Australia if you 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.
Criteria for 408 visa
– Must hold a visa that is 28 days or less from ceasing to be in effect.
– Or, held a visa that is no more than 28 days from ceasing to be in effect.
– 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.
– Must be part of the response to workforce shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to areas including, but not limited to, agriculture, aged care and public health.
– Allow holders of temporary visas who are engaged in or have the relevant skills to undertake critical work relating to the supply of essential goods and services.
Temporary Residence Visa Holders And Sponsors
Those visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa condition.