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Temporary Visa Holders

The Australian Government is committed to protecting the health of Australians, supporting businesses and jobs and securing food supply while we combat the COVID-19 virus. The livelihood of Australians who become unemployed as the economic impacts deepen is paramount to the Government.

The Government is making a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the coronavirus crisis in order to protect the health of our community, safeguard job opportunities for Australians, support critical industries, and assist with the rapid recovery post the virus.

The priority of Government during this period is public health. All temporary visa holders should follow public health advice in respect to COVID-19.

It is important that temporary visa holders retain a lawful status wherever possible. Whatever a person’s visa status, there is no barrier to engaging with our health system if they are sick.

Temporary visa holders who are unable to support themselves are strongly encouraged to return to their countries.

Where this is not possible, most temporary visa holders who have worked in Australia will now be able to access some of their Australian superannuation:

  • In most cases, access to superannuation will be up to a maximum amount of $10,000 tax-free during 2019-20. 
  • Further information is available on the Australian Taxation Office website.

Visitor Visa Holders

Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a visitor visa or ETA. You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires.

If you have a ‘no further stay condition’ attached to your visa, you will need to apply to have this waived before you make any visa application.

If you cannot depart Australia as planned, check your permitted stay period, visa expiry date and visa conditions to make sure you remain lawful in Australia.

You can check your visa details in VEVO, the myVEVO app, in your visa grant letter or your ImmiAccount. You can check your ETA expiry and conditions through our Check an ETA service.

When you apply for a new visa, you may be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful in Australia until a decision is made on your visa application.

If your visa has already expired, see My visa has expired.

What can I do if I cannot return to my home country?

If you cannot return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid visa and engage with the health system when necessary.

Visitor visa holders should apply for a new visa before their current visa expires to maintain their lawful status.

If a visitor has a “No Further Stay” condition on their visa (including 8503, 8534 or 8535) and less than two months validity remaining, they can request a waiver of this condition to allow them to lodge a new visa application.

For information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart, see Staying in Australia.

If you have worked in Australia and cannot meet your immediate living expenses, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year. 

International students

What is the Government doing to support student visa holders?

The Government is taking a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions have prevented conditions being met, such as attendance at class or use of online learning.

The Government has temporarily relaxed the enforcement of the 40 hour work limitation for the following critical sectors:

  • International students who are existing workers in major supermarkets to help get stock on shelves due to high demand (implemented 7 March).
  • International students who are existing workers in the aged care sector are able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight (implemented on 18 March 2020).

Student visa holders who are enrolled in nursing can undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials.

How will students be assured they will not jeopardise their visa?

Written advice will be provided to approved employers setting out the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders.

Supermarkets must register with the Department of Home Affairs to be given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for existing workers. A list of registered businesses is published on the Department’s website.

Aged Care service providers should refer to the correspondence provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.

What type of work can students undertake under these arrangements?

The temporary arrangements only apply to student visa holders working in supermarkets or aged care providers, as well as student nurses who are supporting health efforts against COVID-19 as directed by health officials.

The arrangements only apply to existing workers in their existing roles.

As the COVID-19 situation develops, it will be determined whether similar measures are required in other critical sectors to ensure the supply of essential goods and services to Australians.

Are these arrangements limited to students?

Student visa holders are already permitted to work in Australia with a usual limitation of 40 hours per fortnight. In light of the current circumstances, these arrangements respond to needs raised by sectors having regard to the critical role that student visa holders play in their workforce to deliver essential goods and services to the Australian community.

How will employers access this temporary measure?

The Department of Home Affairs has set up a form for supermarkets to request access to these temporary arrangements.

The form “Employer request relating to relaxation of enforcement of student visa working hours” is available online.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers, including international students, have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

All aged care approved providers or Commonwealth funded aged care service providers that have been issued with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders. These aged care providers should refer to the correspondence provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.​

I am unable to support myself in Australia, what can I do?

If you are unable to support yourself, you should make arrangements to return to your usual country of residence, noting that it is a condition of all student visas that holders have access to funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay in Australia.

If you have held a student visa for 12 months or longer and cannot meet your immediate living expenses, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year.

The Government will continue to engage with the international education sector which is providing some financial support for international students facing hardship.

New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV)

New Zealanders and Australians have reciprocal arrangements whereby we can each stay and work in each other’s country.

There are over 670,000 New Zealand citizens in Australia on a TY444 visa.

Am I able to access any support in Australia?

If you are a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and meet other eligibility requirements, you will be eligible for all welfare payments, including the Job Seeker and Job Keeper payments.

If you are not a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and you hold a TY444 visa, you will still be eligible for the Job Keeper payments through your employer.

What is a protected New Zealand citizen?

A person is a protected SCV New Zealand citizen holder if they fall within one of the following groups:

  • in Australia on 26 February 2001
  • in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before this date
  • assessed as a protected SCV by Services Australia holder before 26 February 2004.

More information and advice on protected SCV holders can be found at the Services Australia website.

What should I do if I am unable to support myself in Australia and am not eligible for one of the above payments?

Under recently announced measures, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation tax-free in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

If you are unable to support yourself, are not eligible for any of the above payments, and unable to find any employment, you should consider returning to New Zealand.

Employer sponsored temporary work visas

I am a Temporary Skill Shortage visa holder - what should I do if I have be stood down or my hours are reduced?

Temporary Skill Shortage 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 conditions or the business being in breach of their employer obligations.

I have lost my job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what are my options?

Those who are laid off (that is, they are unemployed) should find another employer within 60 days or make arrangements to depart Australia, where this is possible.

I can’t find another employer what should I do?

Those visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus and who cannot find another employer to sponsor them, should make arrangements to depart Australia.

What can I do if I cannot return to my home country?

If you cannot return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid visa and engage with the health system when necessary.

Where you have been stood down by your employer or had your hours reduced but remain employed, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year. 

For information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart, see Staying in Australia.

Working holiday makers

What is the Government doing to support industries that rely on Working Holiday Makers?

To support the critical sectors of agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care, the Government is providing flexible arrangements for Working Holiday Makers (WHMs).

WHMs working in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and will also be eligible for a further visa to continue working in these sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.

If a WHM is working in the critical sectors but is not eligible for a further visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa.

WHMs who are applying for this visa to work or continue working in a critical sector must have evidence from their employer that they have ongoing work that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot do.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

I am on a WHM visa and am unable to support myself in Australia, what can I do?

If you are unable to support yourself, you should make arrangements to return home.

If you cannot meet your immediate living expenses, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year. 

Can I extend my current visa to stay in Australia if I am unable to return to my home country?

You can apply for a further WHM visa if you have undertaken specified work for three months on your first WHM visa or six months on your second WHM visa.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 417 (Working Holiday) visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in regional Australia
  • fishing and pearling in regional Australia
  • tree farming and felling in regional Australia
  • mining in regional Australia
  • construction in regional Australia and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31 July 2019.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 462 (Work and Holiday) visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia
  • fishing and pearling in northern Australia only
  • tree farming and felling in northern Australia only
  • tourism and hospitality in northern Australia only
  • construction in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31 July 2019.

You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your visa application.

If you are granted a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa, work undertaken on this visa does not count as specified work for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa.

Can I count work in a COVID-19 critical sector, like health care, as ‘specified work’ for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa?

No. Existing arrangements for specified work will remain in place but the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist WHMs working in critical sectors who are not eligible to apply for a further visa.

If you are working in the agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or child care sectors, you are not eligible for a further visa and you are unable to return to your home country, you can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa. This visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia and continue working until you can return to your home country.

If you are applying for this visa to work or continue working in a critical sector, you must have evidence from your employer that you have ongoing work that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot do.

Further information is available on the Department's website.

I have applied for my second or third WHM visa. Can I keep working while I am waiting for a decision on my application?

While your new application is being processed, a bridging visa will come into effect which generally carries the same conditions as your previous visa, including work rights. You and your employer can check Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) at any time to confirm your work rights.

Due to COVID-19, I couldn’t complete the specified work I need to apply for my second or third WHM visa. Can I extend my visa to give me more time to look for work?

If you have not completed the 3 or 6 months of specified work required to apply for a second or third WHM visa, you should apply for another visa to remain lawfully in Australia until you are able to depart.

If you are working in the agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or child care sectors, you are not eligible for a further visa and you are unable to return to your home country, you can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa. This visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working until you can return to your home country.

I am on a Temporary visa and I have a job offer to work in a critical sector. Can I apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa?

If you have evidence from your employer that you have ongoing work in a critical sector (i.e. agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or child care) that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot do, you may be eligible for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa.

I had to leave Australia and I couldn’t complete my specified work due to COVID-19. My visa is likely to cease before I can come back to Australia. Can the validity be extended?

It is not possible to extend the validity your WHM visa.  If you wish to return to Australia in the future, you will need to apply and meet the requirements for an appropriate visa.  Depending on your circumstances, you may not meet the requirements for another WHM visa.

I am overseas. Can I be granted a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) visa (COVID-19 pandemic event)?

The COVID-19 pandemic event visa can only be granted to people already in Australia who have ongoing work in a critical sector, who are not eligible for a further visa and who are unable to return to their home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions.   

Seasonal Workers

There are around 8,000 Seasonal and Pacific workers in Australia.

Seasonal and Pacific workers whose visas are expiring can apply for a further visa to allow them to stay in Australia and  support the agriculture sector, subject to Labour Market testing. This is consistent with the principle that visa settings should not displace job opportunities for Australians.

Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour scheme workers, as well as Working Holiday Makers and other visa holders working in agriculture, will be able to extend their stay in Australia to support the agriculture sector:

  • Seasonal Worker Programme workers with visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.
  • Pacific Labour Scheme workers with visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream visa.

Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers, allowing flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands.

Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme arrangements, including those relating to employers, will be carried over to the new visa arrangements, continuing the link with the agricultural sector.

Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour scheme workers who cannot meet their immediate living expenses can access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year. 

More information about these temporary arrangements is available on the Department’s website.

Bridging visa holders

If your visa has expired, or is about to expire you should consider returning to your home country as quickly as possible if you are able to, particularly if you do not have family support.

Temporary visa holders who are unable to support themselves over the next six months are strongly encouraged to return home and to make arrangements as quickly as possible to do so.

If you cannot depart Australia, you need to apply for a Bridging visa in order to regularise your visa status. You will be expected to depart Australia when travel restrictions are lifted.

What services are available to assist me?

  • If you cannot resolve your visa status, the Department of Home Affairs' Status Resolution Service (SRS) can help.
  • SRS officers can explain your visa options and tell you how decisions you make now can affect your options later on. They can also help you plan your departure from Australia, and refer you to other services where necessary.

I am a Bridging visa holder in Australia and my substantive application is pending a decision. What does this mean for my Bridging visa?

Your Bridging visa will keep you lawfully in Australia until a decision has been made on your substantive visa application. If your substantive visa is not granted, and you are unable to depart Australia, you will need to apply for a further Bridging visa to keep you lawful.

Bridging visa holders with ongoing matters at Merits or Judicial Review?

Your Bridging visa will keep you lawfully in Australia until the review decision has been finalised. If your substantive visa is not granted, and you are unable to depart Australia, you will need to apply for a further Bridging visa to keep you lawful.

My Bridging visa expires on a specific date. What should I do?

If your Bridging visa specifies a validity date, and you are unable to depart Australia, you should apply for a further Bridging visa before it expires.

I am a Bridging Visa holder and want to depart Australia. What should I do?

The Department’s Status Resolution Service can assist eligible individuals wishing to depart from Australia (where this is currently possible). The Department contracts the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Serco (Homeward) as service providers to facilitate its voluntary return and reintegration programs.

Returns assistance may be available and may provide an eligible recipient with one, or any combination of assistance, including:

  • independent returns counselling
  • plane ticket
  • assistance to obtain travel documents
  • reception assistance in country of return
  • travel assistance to final destination

To be considered eligible for returns assistance, you must:

  • be a non-citizen;
  • not hold a visa that permits re-entry to Australia;
  • elect to voluntarily return to a country-of-origin or a country where you have a right of entry and stay; and
  • demonstrate you are unable to self-fund their return.

I am a Bridging visa holder but need some temporary support. Is there any available?

Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) provides support for certain non-citizens who are in the Australian community temporarily while their immigration status is being determined. The SRSS program provides short-term, tailored support to individuals who are unable to support themselves while they engage with the Department of Home Affairs to resolve their immigration status. It is not an ongoing welfare entitlement.

People who are actively engaged with the Department to resolve their immigration status and need assistance to overcome barriers to that resolution, may be eligible to be provided with short term support in order to resolve that barrier.

Individuals on a bridging visa with work rights, and who have the capacity to work, are expected to support themselves while their immigration status is being resolved.

During the COVID-19 period, applications for support under SRSS will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

I am a Bridging visa holder. Am I able to work?

You might be allowed to work in Australia depending on the conditions of your Bridging visa. Your grant letter will tell you about these conditions. See if you have work restrictions by using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online Service (VEVO).

If your Bridging visa does not let you work, or has restrictions on working, you can apply for another Bridging visa that lets you work. This is only available in some circumstances and you will usually have to demonstrate that you are in financial hardship.

Bridging visa holders who have been able to work while in Australia and cannot meet their immediate living expenses can access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year. 

COVID-19 Pandemic - Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream of the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa

To respond to COVID-19, the government has introduced flexible and temporary visa arrangements that support Australia’s public health measures.

The Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa (COVID-19 Pandemic event visa) is being utilised to manage the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic event. The measure is temporary in nature, will be subject to ongoing review and will be wound back appropriately in line with the end of the pandemic.

Who is eligible to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa?

The COVID-19 Pandemic event visa is available to people who are:

  • in Australia
  • are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19
  • have 28 days or less remaining on their current visa or where their last temporary visa has expired less than 28 days ago
  • are not eligible for any other visa based on their intended activities or
  • have evidence from their employer that they have ongoing work in a critical sector and that an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident cannot fill the position.

Working in critical sectors

Working holiday makers working in critical sectors such as agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and childcare who are not eligible for any other visa and are unable to return to their home country can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.

Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders with visas due to expire within 28 days are also able to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.

Other temporary visa holders whose visas are about to expire, have no other visa options, are unable to return to their home country and who are working in critical sectors may apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa. Evidence of this work will need to be submitted with the application.

Visa of last resort

Other temporary visa holders may apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa only where there is no other visa option and it is not possible to leave Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia until it is safe and practical for you to return to your home country.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa?

You should only apply for this visa is you are unable to depart Australia, your temporary visa expires in less than 28 days (or did not expire more than 28 days ago) and you have no other visa options available to you.

Can I apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa if I am not working in a critical sector?

If you are not working in a critical sector, you can only apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa if you have no other visa options available to you.

How do I know if my visa has been granted with work rights?

People who are working in critical sectors will be given permission to work on their COVID-19 Pandemic event visa. All other people holding this visa will not have permission to work.

Permission to work is managed through mandatory condition 8107.  Workers in critical sectors who indicate their work activities in their visa application will be given permission to engage in those work activities when the COVID 19 Pandemic event visa is granted.

People applying for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa as a last resort to remain lawfully in Australia until their departure will not be granted permission to work.

Under condition 8107 a person who is granted a subclass 408 visa for the purpose of remaining lawfully in Australia until they are able to return home and who then work, would be engaging in an activity that is inconsistent with the purpose of the visa grant.  Consequently, action could be taken to cancel that visa.

How long will my COVID-19 Pandemic event visa be valid for?

If you are employed in a critical sector such as agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, and childcare you may be granted a visa that allows you to stay for up to 12 months.  

If you have been in Australia under the Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme and are continuing your work in agriculture or another critical sector you may be granted a visa allowing you to stay for up to 12 months.

If you are not working in a critical sector, you may be granted a visa that allows you to stay for up to six months to ensure you remain lawful while you are unable to travel home from Australia.

Can I work on a COVID-19 AGEE Pandemic event visa?

Permission to work will be limited to people working in a critical sector such as agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, and childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These sectors may be updated from time to time in response to needs identified during the
COVID-19 period.  While holding a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa, you are only permitted to work in critical sectors.

How do I know if I’m working in a critical sector?

The Government continues to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and update which sectors in the Australian economy are critical. Sectors may move from being critical to non-critical and vice versa.  You should check to see if your work or your occupation is in a critical sector before making an application.

The Department may use the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) to determine if an occupation is in a critical sector.

Do I need a letter of endorsement to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa?

If you are applying for the visa to work or continue working in a critical sector (such as agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or childcare) you must provide evidence of your ongoing employment, which:

  • confirms the dates of your employment
  • confirms which critical sector (such as agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or childcare) you are working in and
  • provides evidence that an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident cannot fill the position.

Evidence could include payslips, a contract and/or a letter from your employer.

Doctors and Nurses with an offer of employment in the health care sector must provide evidence of their medical qualifications, and a letter of offer of employment from a hospital or clinic.

If you are a temporary visa holder with no other visa options and you are unable to depart Australia, you must attach a statement that tells us why you cannot apply for another type of visa, why you are not able to depart Australia before your current visa expires, and what actions you are taking to try to arrange your departure as soon as travel restrictions are lifted and/or flight availability resumes.

Can I apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa if I have a no further stay condition attached to my visa?

If you hold a subclass 403 visa in the Seasonal Worker Programme stream, during the COVID-19 period, the condition 8503 (No Further Stay) attached to your visa will be automatically waived to allow you to apply for the COVID-19 AGEE stream of the subclass 408. You will not need to apply for a waiver of condition 8503.

If you hold any other temporary visa with condition 8503, 8534 or 8535 and cannot depart Australia as planned, you cannot apply for most other visas in Australia unless the condition is waived. You can request to waive this condition if your visa will expire in less than 28 days. If your request is approved, you should make a new visa application before your current visa expires.

How do I apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa?

Apply online via the Department of Home Affairs online lodgment portal ImmiAccount.

You will need to complete the ‘Temporary Activity Visa (408)’ online form and to select “Australian government endorsed events” from the Activity Type dropdown menu on page 2 of the application form. 

You can select the ‘COVID-19 Pandemic event’ in the Event details section of the application form.

The COVID-19 Pandemic event visa application is VAC Free. You will be required to select ‘YES’ to the Visa application charge concession question on page 2 and then select ‘NIL VAC’.  

How much does the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa cost?

There is no Visa Application Charge for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa and no subsequent temporary application charge.

To not be charged for this visa you will be required to select ‘YES’ to the Visa application charge concession question on page 2 and then select ‘NIL VAC’.  

You might have to pay other costs for health checks, police certificates and biometrics.

How long will it take to process my COVID-19 Pandemic event visa application?

The Department is prioritising the processing of applications for people working  in critical sectors. Other applications may take longer to finalise. 

You should submit as much evidence to support your application as possible.

When you lodge a valid application for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa, you will be granted a bridging visa which generally carries the same conditions as your previous visa, including any work rights. If your current visa expires, the bridging visa will maintain your lawful status in Australia until your COVID-19 Pandemic event visa application is finalised.

You can check Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) at any time to confirm your visa status and conditions.

I am overseas. Can I be granted a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa?

The COVID-19 Pandemic event visa can only be granted to people in Australia.

Will I have to do a medical examination to get the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa?

You and any family members who apply for the visa with you must meet our health requirement. This means you may need to undergo a health check.

What else do I have to do to be granted a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa?

You must maintain adequate health insurance during your stay in Australia.

This means you may need to arrange health insurance for your stay in Australia if you haven’t already got it.

You are personally liable for all your healthcare costs while you are in Australia. Medical insurance helps limit your financial liability.

You must have adequate health cover for the whole of your stay to be granted this visa. Your cover should cover you for medically necessary treatment, including transport.

See what we consider adequate health insurance for visa holders.

See more about health insurance for overseas visitors

I am applying for the visa as a last resort and the application form is asking for my employer details, however I am not employed. What can I do?

From 22 April 2020, an improved ImmiAccount application form will be available for those applicants who are applying as a visa of last resort for the COVID-19 AGEE stream of the subclass 408 visa. The question regarding employer details will remain for those who are applying on the basis of their work in a critical sector. Working Holiday Makers working in the Agricultural sector, for example, will need to have prearranged employment if they need to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.

I am on a bridging visa. Can I apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa?

Temporary visa holders, including bridging visa holders can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa if they meet all of the eligibility criteria.  Bridging visa holders who have a s.48 bar and/or who have not held a substantive temporary visa in the 28 days prior to application will not be able to apply.

How long will my visa be valid for?

The validity period on the visa will vary depending on the individual circumstances following these general principles:

  • Applicants who have been on the Seasonal Worker Program or Working Holiday Maker program and are working in critical sectors will be granted a visa for up to 12 months.
  • Applicants working in critical sectors will be granted a visa for up to 12 months.
  • All other applicants will be granted a visa for up to six months with the validity period dependant on the individual circumstances such as when they may be able to return home.

What are the critical sectors?

The Government is making announcements about critical sectors.  Currently the critical sectors are agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and childcare. These sectors will be subject to ongoing review with new sectors being added if required, or removed if the Australian labour market is fulfilling the need.

Who can access early superannuation and under what circumstances?

Temporary Visa category

Early access to superannuation

Eligibility criteria

Bridging

Yes

Unable to meet immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

Student

Yes

Held a student visa for 12 months or more and unable to meeting immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

 

Temporary Protection

Yes

Unable to meet immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

Subclass 444

Yes

Unemployed, eligible to receive certain social security payments or farm household allowance payments, those that have been made redundant or had their hours reduced and sole traders suffering a significant reduction in turnover

$10,000 in 2019-20 and further $10,000 in 2020-21

Temporary Resident (Skilled Employment)

Yes

Remains employed and unable to meet immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

Temporary Resident (Other Employment)

Yes

Unable to meet immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

Visitor

Yes

Unable to meet immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

Working Holiday Maker

Yes

Unable to meet immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

Investor Retirement/Retirement

Yes

Unemployed, eligible to receive certain social security payments or farm household allowance payments, those that have been made redundant or had their hours reduced and sole traders suffering a significant reduction in turnover

$10,000 in 2019-20 and further $10,000 in 2020-21

Other temporary

 

Unable to meet immediate living expenses

$10,000 in 2019-20

Temporary visa measures supporting the agriculture sector

Agriculture is a critical sector that supplies essential goods to all Australians.

To support our agriculture sector, the Government has announced temporary visa measures to help with the continuity of essential goods and services in response to COVID-19.

The Government will apply flexible arrangements to allow critical workers, including Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme participants and Working Holiday Makers, to extend their stay in Australia.

These temporary arrangements will allow critical workers to remain in Australia, continue to support the agriculture sector, and stabilise the workforce in this critical sector

Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers will have visa conditions temporarily relaxed and given options to extend their stay in Australia for a defined period to support the agriculture sector.

  • Seasonal Worker Programme workers with visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

  • Pacific Labour Scheme workers with visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream visa.

  • Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers, allowing flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands.

  • Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme arrangements, including those relating to employers, will be carried over to the new visa arrangements, continuing the link with the agricultural sector.

In addition, Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (i.e. agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or child care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Meeting public health requirements

State and Territory governments are responsible for implementing, enforcing and monitoring the health and safety requirements to minimise the spread of COVID-19. State and Territory governments must have clear mechanisms in place to enforce self-isolation and impose sanctions where this has not occurred.

At the same time, it is critical that this labour force of temporary visa holders is managed to support the ongoing health of regional communities. Visa holders must adhere to all COVID-19 health measures, including social distancing and self-isolation.

If visa holders do not follow self-isolation arrangements, their visa may be cancelled on the basis that they present a risk to public health and the Australian community.

State and Territory border restrictions and quarantine requirements will continue to manage the public health risks associated with people moving from cities into agricultural areas. State and Territory governments are responsible for arrangements for safe accommodation of temporary visa holders working in agriculture to manage the spread of COVID-19, including quarantine and self-isolation requirements.

The Department of Home Affairs will accept referrals from State and Territory governments so that visa holders who do not follow public health and quarantine laws can be appropriately considered for visa cancellation, where they pose an unacceptable health risk. All visa holders must comply with the relevant State or Territory government’s public health and quarantine laws, according to where the visa holder is located. Information on the laws for each State and Territory can be found at the following links:

How long will these measures be in place?

These are temporary measures that will be reviewed regularly by Government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These measures will continue only as long as deemed necessary by Government in consultation with the agriculture industry.

How do I access these temporary measures?

The Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa is being utilised to manage the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen due to COVID-19. This visa will not have a visa application charge (VAC) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employer arrangements similar to the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Stream will also apply to the subclass 408 visa. This visa is designed to offer an option to those individuals whose visas are expiring in the near future, where no other visa option is available.

The Government is also considering a waiver of certain visa conditions to allow temporary visa holders to work more in key sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not all temporary visas are expiring now – valid visas remain in force and are not affected by the closure of borders.

What conditions or changes will be made to the Seasonal Worker Programme or Pacific Labour Scheme to enable those workers to move more readily to where they are needed?

The Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme visas have a condition that requires visa holders to work for one approved / endorsed employer, unless otherwise approved.

During the COVID-19 period, workers currently in Australia under these programs will be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and are able to move between approved employers. This allows flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector.

Existing arrangements will continue for seasonal workers employed by approved employers in the pilot regions of Sunraysia, Goulburn/Murray, Riverina and Wimmera-Mallee, which commenced on 1 January 2020.

Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders

I am unable to return to my home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Can I extend my current visa to stay in Australia?

It is not possible to extend your visa or apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Seasonal Worker Programme stream visa, but you must apply for a different visa before your current visa expires.

The Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist temporary visa holders in Australia working in the agricultural sector, who are currently unable to return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia.

You can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa (from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020). This visa will not have a visa application charge (VAC) during the COVID-19 pandemic event. Employer arrangements similar to the Seasonal Worker Programme will also apply to the subclass 408 visa. This visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should you wish to do so, until you can return to your home country. Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

You may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia until a decision is made on your visa application.

I am unable to return to my home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Can I work for another employer while I wait to return home?

Yes. During the COVID-19 period, workers currently in Australia under the Seasonal Worker and Pacific Labour schemes will be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers. This will allow flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands.

Workers and employers are required to advise the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Education, Skills and Employment about any change in approved employer, as per existing arrangements.

Do I need to meet quarantine requirements? I have only travelled between states/territories? 

Yes – all visa holders must adhere to all COVID-19 health measures, including social distancing and self-isolation.

State and Territory governments are responsible for arrangements for safe accommodation of temporary visa holders working in agriculture to manage the spread of COVID-19. This includes quarantine and self-isolation requirements. Visa holders must follow all instructions provided by the State or Territory in which they are working.

Pacific Labour Scheme visa holders

My work contract has ended, my visa is about to expire and I am unable to return to my home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Can I extend my current visa to stay in Australia?

It is possible to apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) visa in the Pacific Labour stream in Australia, where you and your employer are endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to participate in the scheme.

The application can be made online via the Department of Home Affairs online lodgement portal, ImmiAccount.

You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your visa application.

I am unable to return to my home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Can I work for another employer while I wait to return home?

Yes. During the COVID-19 period, workers currently in Australia under the Pacific Labour Scheme will be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers. This will allow flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands. Workers and employers are required to advise the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about any change in approved employer, as per existing arrangements.

Working Holiday Maker visa holders

I am unable to return to my home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Can I extend my current visa to stay in Australia?

You can apply for a further WHM visa if you have undertaken specified work for three months on your first WHM visa or six months on your second WHM visa.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 417 (Working Holiday) visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in regional Australia; o fishing and pearling in regional Australia
  • tree farming and felling in regional Australia
  • mining in regional Australia
  • construction in regional Australia and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31July 2019.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 462 (Work and Holiday) visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia
  • fishing and pearling in northern Australia only
  • tree farming and felling in northern Australia only
  • tourism and hospitality in northern Australia only
  • construction in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31July 2019.

You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your visa application.

If you are granted a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa, work undertaken on this visa does not count as specified work for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa.

Can I count work in COVID-19 critical sectors already considered ‘specified work’ (e.g. plant and animal cultivation), for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa?

Yes. Existing arrangements for specified work will remain in place.

However, the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist WHMs working in the agricultural sector who are not eligible to apply for a further WHM visa.

WHMs working in the agricultural sector, who are unable to return to their home country can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa. This also applies to those working in other critical sectors such as food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care. This visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should you wish to do so, until you can return to your home country.

If you are applying for this visa to work or continue working in a critical sector, you must have evidence from your employer that you have ongoing work that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot do.

Work undertaken on a subclass 408 visa does not count as specified work for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa.

Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website

As a WHM working in the agricultural sector, can I keep working for the same employer for longer than six months?

Yes. WHMs working in the agricultural sector are already taken to have permission from the Department to work for longer than six months with the same employer.

Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

I have applied for my second or third WHM visa. Can I keep working while I am waiting for a decision on my application?

While your new application is being processed, a bridging visa will come into effect which generally carries the same conditions as your previous visa, including in relation to work rights. You and your employer can check Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) at any time to confirm your work rights.

Due to COVID-19, I couldn’t complete the specified work I need to apply for my second or third WHM visa. Can I extend my visa to give me more time to look for work?

If you have not completed the three or six months of specified work required to apply for a second or third WHM visa, you should apply for another visa to remain lawfully in Australia until you are able to depart.

If you are working in the agricultural sector and are unable to return to your home country, you can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa. This also applies to those working in other critical sectors such as food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care.

This visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should you wish to do so, until you can return to your home country. If you are applying for the visa to work or continue working in a critical sector you must have evidence from your employer that you have ongoing work that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot do.

Work undertaken on a subclass 408 visa does not count as specified work for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa.

I had to leave Australia and I couldn’t complete my specified work due to COVID-19. My visa is likely to cease before I can come back to Australia, can the validity be extended?

It is not possible to extend your WHM visa.  If you wish to return to Australia in the future, you will need to apply and meet the requirements for an appropriate visa.  Depending on your circumstances, you may not meet the requirements for another WHM visa.

I am overseas. Can I be granted a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) visa (COVID-19 pandemic event)?

The COVID-19 pandemic event visa can only be granted to people already in Australia who have ongoing work in a critical sector, who are not eligible for a further visa and who are unable to return to their home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions.

Employers

Due to the COVID-19 border restrictions, seasonal workers and pacific labour scheme participants are unable to travel to Australia at present. What other options are available to access workers to address labour needs?

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist temporary visa holders currently in Australia, including Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme participants, who are unable to currently return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia, and enable flexibility in changing approved employers where required.

Under these temporary measures, current approved employers may wish to employ Seasonal Worker Programme or Pacific Labour Scheme participants who have finished employment with their current approved employer, but who are unable to return to their home country.

Approved employers, like any employer, may also wish to employ Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa holders

  • This visa will have a nil visa application charge (VAC) for the COVID-19 pandemic event.  
  • Employer sponsorship arrangements similar to the Seasonal Worker Programme will also apply to the subclass 408 visa.

These temporary measures are not intended to prevent the recruitment of Australians to undertake this work. Before seeking access to seasonal workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme, approved employers must first try to recruit Australians.

Where Australian workers are unavailable, employers can also seek seasonal labour through the Working Holiday Maker program. Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (i.e. agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or child care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

These temporary measures will be in place for a timeframe that allows relevant critical industries to bridge the gap between their immediate needs and the time to recruit, train and on-board Australians. The Department of Home Affairs is working with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to ensure Australians are prioritised for future job opportunities.

I am not an approved employer under the Seasonal Worker Programme or Pacific Labour Scheme. Can I employ seasonal workers or pacific labour scheme participants during this COVID-19 period?

Currently, only organisations approved by the Australian Government can recruit seasonal workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme. Information about the Seasonal Worker Programme is available on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

Where Australian workers are unavailable, employers can seek seasonal labour through the Working Holiday Maker program. Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (i.e. agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or child care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream. 

Due to the COVID-19 border restrictions, WHMs are unable to travel to Australia at present. What other options are available to access workers to address labour needs?

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist temporary visa holders currently in Australia, including WHMs, who are currently unable to return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia. WHMs are already able to work for the same employer in the agricultural sector for up to 12 months, instead of the usual six month limitation for other sectors. They can apply for a further WHM visa if they have undertaken specified work for three months on their first WHM visa or six months on their second WHM visa.

If a WHM working in the agricultural sector is not eligible for a further visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) visa to continue working in the agricultural sector. This also applies to those working in other critical sectors such as food processing, health care, aged care, disability care or child care.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws and should first try to employ Australians. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees