Some visa holders, or other persons, who have paid a Visa Application Charge (VAC) in connection with a visa application and who have been affected by Australia’s COVID-19 travel restrictions can access a refund or a waiver of their Visa Application Charge (VAC).

If you are eligible for a VAC refund, use the COVID-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form.

For further information about other VAC refund provisions, see Getting a refund

Prospective Marriage visa

Changes have been introduced in late 2020 - early 2021 to support Prospective Marriage (Subclass 300) visa holders, former visa holders and visa applicants unable to enter Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Department is aware of the ongoing impact of travel restrictions on Prospective Marriage visa holders outside Australia.

We continue to review visa settings to respond to challenges posed by COVID-19 and address impacts on visa holders. This includes Prospective Marriage visa holders outside Australia whose visas are due to expire in 2021. 

We will provide more information to affected visa holders in the coming weeks.

Changes for Prospective Marriage visa holders introduced in December 2020 - February 2021

Visa Extensions

On 10 December 2020, Prospective Marriage visa holders or former visa holders who were outside Australia on that day, and who held a Prospective Marriage visa at any time between 6 October 2020 and 10 December 2020 had their visa validity period extended to 31 March 2022.

Individual visa holders have been notified by the Department.

You can use VEVO to check your visa details and conditions.

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/already-have-a-visa/check-visa-details-and-conditions/check-conditions-online

Visa Application Charge (VAC) refunds

Refunds are being provided where COVID-19 related travel restrictions have impacted the ability of the visa holder to travel to Australia.

If your Prospective Marriage visa validity period was extended on 10 December 2020, the payer of the VAC may request a refund if:

  • you have not travelled to Australia after 10 December 2020 as a holder of this visa; and
  • at the time of request for the refund, either:
    • Your visa has ceased to be in effect or was cancelled at your request; or
    • If your visa is currently in effect, you have asked the Minister to cancel your visa.

Generally a refund request can only be made by the person shown as the ‘payer’ on the original VAC receipt. Refund requests must be made by 31 December 2022.

If your visa is still in effect, prior to requesting a refund, you must first use your ImmiAccount to request the cancellation of your Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa.

If you are eligible for a VAC refund, use the COVID-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form.

Former Prospective Marriage visa holders

If your Prospective Marriage visa ceased between 20 March 2020 and 5 October 2020 the payer of the VAC may be eligible for a VAC refund if your visa ceased while you were outside Australia.

Alternatively, the payer of the VAC may be eligible for a VAC refund if your visa ceased between 20 March 2020 and 5 October 2020 while you were in Australia, and you were unable to marry your sponsor before your visa ceased because of restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This may include for example quarantine requirements and intrastate or interstate travel restrictions. Refunds are not available if you did not marry your sponsor because COVID-19 related restrictions:

  • limited the number of guests able to attend your proposed wedding
  • prevented guests, or particular guests, from attending your proposed wedding
  • prevented the proposed wedding taking place at the time or location preferred by you and your sponsor.

Generally a refund request can only be made by the person shown as the ‘payer’ on the original VAC receipt. If you are eligible for a VAC refund, use the COVID-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form.

VAC refunds are not available if:

  • your Prospective Marriage visa was cancelled by the Minister (unless you have requested for it to be cancelled)
  • you had lodged an application for a Partner (subclass 801) visa and paid a reduced VAC because you held a Prospective Marriage visa
  • at the time your visa ceased you or your sponsor had advised the Department that you no longer intend to marry.

For former Prospective Marriage visa holders, the processing of any subsequent Prospective Marriage or Partner visa applications made will be given priority. Processing times for applications will depend on whether the application is complete and meets all the requirements for the visa. 

Prospective Marriage visa applicants

To assist Prospective Marriage visa applicants unable to enter Australia due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Prospective Marriage visas granted from 27 February 2021 may have a visa validity period of between 9 to 15 months. This is a change from the previous standard 9 months validity. The validity period for a Prospective Marriage visa granted on or after 27 February 2021 will depend on the circumstances of the applicant.

You can use VEVO to check your visa details and conditions.
 

Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Program

To be eligible for a VAC refund for a Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Program subclass 403 visa, the following must be met:

  • the visa was granted  before 20 March 2020
  • the visa holder could not travel to Australia on that visa for the first time before their visa arrival date
  • the refund request is submitted on or before 31 December 2021
  • the visa ceased before the decision on the refund request
  • the visa was not cancelled for reasons other than at the visa holder’s request.

Generally a refund request can only be made by the person shown as the ‘payer’ on the original VAC receipt.

If you are eligible for a VAC refund, use the COVID-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form. VAC refund requests must be lodged by 31 December 2021.

Temporary Skill Shortage or Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders

If you are outside Australia and held a Temporary Skill Shortage or Temporary Work (Skilled) visa on or after 1 February 2020, which has since ceased, you will be eligible for a VAC waiver for a subsequent Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa application if:

  • you were unable to enter Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions before your visa ceased; or
  • you travelled to Australia and departed after 1 February 2020 but were unable to return to Australia before your visa ceased due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Applicants are required to have a valid nomination. Applications must be lodged before 31 December 2022.

Working Holiday Makers

You may be able to apply online for an offshore nil VAC (no fee) Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa, or request a VAC refund if:

  • you were granted a COVID-19 affected WHM visa before 20 March 2020;
  • your WHM visa expired on or after 20 March 2020 while you were outside Australia, or your WHM visa will expire before 31 December 2021 while you are outside Australia; and
  • you did not travel to Australia on your WHM visa, or you departed Australia before your WHM visa ceased.

If eligible, you can make an offshore nil VAC WHM visa application online from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2022. For further information, visit Working holiday Maker program - latest news.

If you no longer meet the age requirement to apply for a nil VAC WHM visa, you can request a VAC refund. To do this, use the COVID-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form.

Offshore nil VAC applications and VAC refund requests must be lodged by 31 December 2022. 

From March 2022, you may be able to make a nil VAC WHM application if you are in Australia at that time and are eligible to apply. More information on visa eligibility and requirements for the onshore nil VAC WHM visa will be available once arrangements are finalised.

Visitors

Visitor visa applicants outside Australia whose previous Visitor (subclass 600) visa expired, or will expire, between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 may be able to receive a VAC waiver for a future Visitor visa. Travellers who hold a visa must also have an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions before travel and will need to apply for this separately to their visa application. Apply for travel exemption. Applications for a future Visitor visa with a VAC waiver must be lodged by 31 December 2022.

Summary of VAC refund, waiver and visa extension measures

Visa category and subclasses

Details of measure

Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) (subclass 403)

Refund of VAC for visa holders unable to travel prior to border closure on 20 March 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Refunds must be requested by 31 December 2021. Visa has ceased before a decision on the refund is made. Visa was not cancelled for reasons other than at the visa holder’s request. Generally a refund request can only be made by the person shown as the ‘payer’ on the original VAC receipt. 

Temporary Skill Shortage or Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclasses 482 and 457)

Waiver for VAC associated with subsequent applications for people who held a TSS or subclass 457 visa and were either unable to travel to Australia or had travelled and departed but were unable to return before their visa ceased due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

For those who held a TSS or subclass 457 visa while travel restrictions were in place and need a new visa to re-enter Australia.

Working Holiday Maker (WHM)
(subclasses 462 and 417)

From 1 July 2021, you can make a Nil VAC application if you are outside Australia and held or hold a COVID-19 affected WHM visa, and could not travel to Australia on your WHM visa or departed before your WHM visa ceased.

From 21 February 2021, you can request a Refund of the VAC for your COVID-19 affected visa if you are outside Australia, held a COVID-19 affected WHM visa, could not travel to Australia on your visa or departed before your visa ceased, and cannot apply for a nil VAC WHM visa as you no longer meet the age requirement.

There is no maximum time that you must have spent in Australia when you were holding your COVID-19 affected WHM visa.

Your COVID-19 affected WHM visa must have been granted before 20 March 2020 and must cease before 31 December 2021.

Offshore nil VAC visa applications or VAC refund requests must be made by 31 December 2022.

Visitor (subclass 600)

From 27 February 2021, eligible current or former Visitor visa holders outside of Australia can apply for a Visitor (subclass 600) visa in the Tourist, Business Visitor, Sponsored Family or Approved Destination Status streams, without paying a VAC. Applications must be made by 31 December 2022.

To be eligible, the applicant must have held a Visitor visa that was granted on or before 20 March 2020 while they were outside Australia, and expired, or will expire, between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021, and which was either:

  • a multiple entry visa, or
  • a single entry visa that was not used for travel to Australia.

Applicants granted or refused a nil VAC application, made on the basis of being affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions, are not eligible for another nil VAC application.

Prospective Marriage (subclass 300)

Refund of VAC or extension of visa validity period for affected visa holders who were or will be unable to enter Australia before their visa ceases due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, or who were unable to marry their sponsor because of exceptional circumstances arising out of COVID-19, for example quarantine requirements and intrastate or interstate travel requirements. Refunds must be requested by 31 December 2022.