Coronavirus – Recent Immigration announcements

This article is updated with some commonly asked questions for internationals who are currently in Australia. Below are some commonly asked questions:

 

STUDENT AND GRADUATE WORK VISA UPDATES

Immigration has released a joint media statement outlining the arrangements to be put in place for student visa applicants and student visa holders who have been impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The release notes five visa changes:

– Grants of student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia will recommence, so visa holders will be ready to travel when borders reopen;

– Free VACs for international students who lodge further student visa applications, if they were unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19;

– Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be have that study counted towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa;

– Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia, if they are unable to return due to COVID-19;

– Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services

Find more information on the release here

 

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TRAVEL EXEMPTIONS UPDATE

The Department’s website has been updated with a new Travel Restrictions Exemption Portal.

https://travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au/tep

The portal is for the use of those who meet the criteria below and wish to travel into or out of Australia during the current COVID travel restrictions:

– an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident (being spouses, de facto partners, dependent children and legal guardians)
– a New Zealand citizen who is usually resident in Australia
– Have a compelling or compassionate reason to travel to Australia urgently​, including critical skills and medical emergencies
– believe they meet a departure travel restriction exemption​​-

 

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Relief for Temporary Visa Holders:

 

– Red Cross is receiving funding from the Australian Government for the next six months to deliver emergency relief and casework support.

Who is eligible?You may be eligible for Red Cross Safety Net support if you:

  • are in Australia on a temporary visa
  • are in urgent financial hardship
  • cannot access Centrelink, Medicare or similar services
  • have no income, savings or other financial support (including from family overseas).

More info here

 

 Victorian Government

On 29 April 2020, the Victorian Government announced a $45 million fund to support international students in Victoria facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The fund is being delivered in partnership with Victoria’s tertiary education providers.Our international students make a vital contribution to our education system, our economy – and our state. The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring that our international student community feels safe and supported during this difficult period.

The International Student Emergency Relief Fund will provide a payment of up to A$1,100 for vulnerable international students who have lost their job or had a significant reduction to their employment and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The fund complements the range of relief programs offered by Victorian universities, education providers and existing government support.

International students from Victoria’s tertiary education providers including universities, TAFEs, private Vocational Education and Training providers and English language colleges are eligible to apply for the hardship payment. More INFO

 

 

 

I am an international student, do I have unlimited work rights?

Immigration has recently announced some changes to students work rights. You can only work 40 hours per fortnight unless:

  • You work in Aged Care and Nursing
  • You are employed at supermarkets
  • You are on holidays. Students can work unlimited hours while their course is ‘out of session’ (i.e. during scheduled course breaks or if their course has been completed as scheduled) or if the course has been deferred

 

My visa is expiring, what are my options?

 

Due to the coronavirus many travellers are currently stranded in Australia. The government has said they are taking a flexible approach to immigration cases. However, you would still need to hold a valid visa if you want to remain in Australia. We would not recommend that you allow your visa to expire and continue to remain in Australia unlawfully. This could significantly impact your future visa applications, not just to Australia, but to other countries as well.

  • Immigration has recently announced a new visa extension – subclass 408. If you have been working in Australia in sectors such as healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to apply for this visa. You will be able to apply for this visa if you have less than 28 days left on your visa and you are working in a relevant field. Please note, if you have not been working in a relevant field, you will not be able to apply for this
  • You could look to apply for an additional visitor visa. You potentially could lodge this through your immi account. You would be applying for a Subclass 600 – visitor visa. Please note on a visitor visa you would have no work rights.
  • You could apply for a Student Visa. The student visa is probably the simplest visa you can apply for that would allow you to have restricted work rights (40 hours per fortnight). Colleges are still running and many campuses are offering distant learning. Feel free to contact Pathway to Aus if you would like to look at some different course options. You can check out different courses here.
  • You could apply for other work visas such as the second WHV, 482, 407 etc.. Please ensure you meet the requirements to do so.
  • If your visa has expired, we would recommend you contact immigration and apply for a Bridging visa E.

 

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Can I get any support in Australia?

 

Immigration recently announced some changes affecting students, working holiday makers and temporary visa holders. Please note these are broad government announcements and there is no specific announcement of how it specifically will work.

 

International students

May be able to withdraw up to $10,000 from superannuation for this financial year. Please note, there may be requirements that you have lived in Australia for 12 month in order to access your super

 

Working Holiday Makers

– Will be allowed to extend their stays in Australia and waiver of 6 month one employer rule IF THEY CONTINUE TO WORK IN AGRICULTUE AGED CARE, HEALTH CARE ONLY

– Please note Working holiday makers will not be eligible to extend their WHV if they do not work in these industries. You would need to look at other visa options

 

Skilled visa holders

– May be able to withdraw up to $10,000 from superannuation for this financial year– Skilled visa holders stood down, but not laid off, will be able to have visas extended. So if you hold a 482 visa, and you have temporarily been stood down, you do not need to leave the country. – Businesses can reduce skilled visa holders working hours without breaching sponsorship obligations- Time already spent in Australia prior to COVID pandemic will be counted towards permanent residency requirements.

 

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Please note the information provided above is general in nature. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.