COVID-19 Visa Updates

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As the situation unfolds with Covid -19, the laws and requirements are changing almost on a daily basis. We urge all to follow social distancing measures and together we can beat this virus and claim back the life-style we all love, which makes Australia such a sought-after country to live in.

We have received many enquiries about the situation as it relates to visas, and the following may help to provide some clarity to most frequently asked questions. Please do call or email us for advice on your particular circumstances.

1. SUBCLASS 887 VISA

If on or after 1 February 2020 you hold or held, a provisional visa that entitled you to apply for a subclass 887 and you were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, you might be eligible for a number of concessions. Your application for a subclass 887 visa must have been validly lodged on or after 19 September 2020.

If You Are Outside Australia

You can lodge your visa application while you are outside of Australia and you can be granted the subclass 887 visa while you are offshore. You must provide evidence of at least:

i. 9 months of full-time work in a specified regional area (or, if a shorter period is allowed, that shorter period), and

ii. 18 months residence in a specified regional area (or, if a shorter period is specified, that shorter period).

If You Are in Australia

From 1 February 2020 and no later than three months after the concession period ends you lodge your visa application. You must provide evidence of at least:

i. 9 months of full-time work in a specified regional area, and

ii. 2 years of residence in a specified regional area.

 

2. SUBCLASS 888 VISA

For valid visa applications lodged on or after 19 September 2020, a number of concessions are available for visa holders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The concession period started on 1 February 2020. There is no fixed concession end date yet.

BUSINESS INNOVATION STREAM

From 19 September 2020 until 3 months after the end of the concession period, you can apply for this visa if you:

i. You held a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) Business Innovation stream or Business Innovation Extension stream which expired during the concession period.

ii. Your spouse or de facto partner is the primary holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa in the Business Innovation stream or Business Innovation Extension stream. You were the secondary visa holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) and your visa expired during the concession period.

 

INVESTOR STREAM

From 19 September 2020 until 3 months after the end of the concession period, you can apply for this visa if you:

i. Held a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) Investor stream which expired during the COVID-19 concession period; or

ii. Your spouse or de facto partner is the primary holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa in the Investor stream. You were the secondary visa holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) and your visa expired during the COVID-19 concession period.

 

SIGNIFICANT INVESTOR STREAM

From 19 September 2020 until 3 months after the end of the concession period, you can apply for this visa if you:

i. Held a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) Significant Investor stream or Significant Investor Extension stream which expired during the COVID-19 concession period; or

ii. You have ceased to be the spouse or de facto partner of a primary holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) in the Significant Investor stream or the Significant Investor Extension stream, or your spouse / de facto partner has died. You were the secondary visa holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) and your visa expired during the COVID-19 concession period.

 

3. SUBCLASS 485 VISA

For valid visa applications lodged on or after 19 September 2020, a number of concessions are available for visa holders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The concession period started on 1 February 2020. There is no fixed concession end date yet.

During concessions period graduates affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions can apply for a subclass 485 visa outside Australia if they have met all the requirements. They can be granted a subclass 485 visa in or outside of Australia even if the concession period has ended.

For existing and new student visa holders online study undertaken outside Australia as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions counts towards the Australian Study Requirement. Online study outside Australia is counted from the time when a student visa is granted.

You have to meet the Australian Study Requirement:

i. Within 6 months immediately before the day you lodge your application; or

ii. If you were unable to apply within 6 months immediately before the day you lodge your application because you were outside Australia during all or part of the period commencing on 1 February 2020 and ending on 19 September 2020—within 12 months immediately before the day, you lodge the application.

Visa options in times of covid-19

  • My visa is about to expire, what should I do?
    1. Apply for another visa such as a student, visitor or partner visa. Once the application is lodged and your visa expires you will go on a bridging visa A which will keep you in Australia lawfully, for however long it takes the Department of Home Affairs to assess your visa application;
    2. If your visa has expired, you will need to apply for a Bridging Visa E ASAP in order to become lawful.
  • My current visa has a no further stay (8503, 8534 or 8558) condition on it, what are my options?
    1. You will need to request a waiver of the condition at least 2 – 3 weeks prior to the expiry date of your visa. This application may be based on the circumstances of the corona-19 virus. Once a waiver is granted, you will be able to lodge a further visa, depending on your circumstances, such as a visitor, student or partner visa;
    2. If you are a non-resident such as on a visitor visa you cannot stay for more than 12 months in any 18 months period. In such a circumstance, you will need to apply for a new visa.
  • I am on an employer sponsored visa such as a 457, 482 or a 407 and my employer is ending my employment due to the Corona-19 situation. What are my options?
    1. You can discuss with your employer that instead of them ending your employment that they rather give you a Leave Without Pay due the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 virus. You would need to formally request the leave without pay from your employer and both have to agree by signing such a request. This is generally taken to be a maximum period of 3 months but due to the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 virus, please seek clarification at the time if this can be extended for another 3 months;
    2. If the employer wishes to terminate your employment, you can look at applying for another visa such as a visitor visa, student visa or if applicable, a partner visa;
    3. Look for another employer to sponsor you but of course in this climate that may be difficult but depends on what industry you are in;

What are the travel restrictions if you wish to come to australia?

  • You can travel to Australia if you are:
    • an Australian citizen
    • a permanent resident
    • a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia
    • an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident or are a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia.
    • Travellers who have a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia can apply for an exemption to travel.
  • I can't return to Australia before my visa expires and want to return. What will happen?

    You will need to apply for a new visa once the travel restrictions are lifted

  • I am on a Bridging Visa B but cannot return to Australia - what do I do?

    If your Bridging visa expires and you are outside Australia, you will need to apply for another visa, such as a visitor visa. Bridging visas cannot be granted if you are outside Australia.

  • Travel restriction exemptions – Inbound
    • NZ citizens usually resident in Australia
    • Immediate family members of Australian citizen or permanent resident
    • Transiting travellers

    Additional exemptions may be applied for from the Commissioner of the Australia Border Force for:

    • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest
    • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports
    • Persons with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exception
    • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia, and their immediate family
    • Case-by-case exceptions may also be granted for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.

    Exemptions must be granted prior to these travellers undertaking travel to Australia.

Students

  • I am a student – can I work more than 20 hours a week?

    Student visa holders working hours relaxed in some sectors.

    Arrangements have been made to relax the 40 hour per fortnight work restrictions for student visa holders in specific sectors.

    Student visa holders working in supermarkets (existing staff in existing roles where that work assists to ensure the supply of groceries to and in supermarkets or related online distribution facilities) may work longer hours if their employing supermarket has gained approval from the Department.

    Aged care facilities may also be granted approval to employ student visa holders in excess of the usual work restrictions.

Visa status

Please email us at info@australiamigrate.com or call our offices on (02) 94116000 if you require any assistance with your visa matter.
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