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Some visa holders impacted by Australia’s COVID-19 travel restrictions will soon be able to access a refund or a waiver of their Visa Application Charge (VAC).

Prospective Marriage visa

If you received a Prospective Marriage visa but you were unable to enter Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions before your visa ceased, you may be eligible for a refund of your VAC.

Refunds will help former Prospective Marriage visa holders to apply for another visa to come to Australia, once travel restrictions are lifted. These applications will be given priority, but the actual processing times for applications will depend on whether the application is complete and meets all the requirements for the visa.

Prospective Marriage visa validity periods may also be extended in certain circumstances.

Temporary workers

If you were part of the Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme, were granted a visa before 20 March 2020 and were unable to travel to Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, you may be eligible for a refund of your VAC.

If you were granted a Temporary Skill Shortage or Temporary Work (Skilled) visa but you were unable to enter Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions before your visa ceased, you may be able to receive a VAC waiver for a future visa application.

If you were granted a Temporary Skill Shortage or Temporary Work (Skilled) visa, travelled to Australia and departed but were unable to return to Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions before your visa ceased, you may be able to receive a VAC waiver for a future visa application.

Working Holiday Makers

If you were granted a Working Holiday Maker visa, you may be able to receive a VAC waiver for a future application or a refund. A VAC waiver will apply for a further application if you were unable to travel to Australia because of travel restrictions or had to depart Australia early due to COVID-19.

If you have since passed the age limit for a WHM visa and are not eligible to lodge a further application, you will be able to receive a refund instead.

Visitors

A VAC waiver will be available for Visitor (Tourist) visa holders whose visas expired while outside Australia following implementation of COVID-19 travel restrictions on 20 March 2020.

Summary of VAC refund, waiver and visa extension measures

Visa category and subclasses

Details of measure

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

Refund of VAC for impacted visa holders who were unable to travel prior to border closure on 20 March 2020.

Eligible for refund after visa expires.

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 ban.  

Will apply to those who held a TSS or subclass 457 visa while travel restrictions were in place and require a new visa in order to re-enter Australia.

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

Waiver of VAC for WHM visa holders who were unable to travel to Australia due to travel restrictions or departed due to COVID-19.

Refund of VAC for WHM visa holders who were unable to travel to Australia due to travel restrictions or departed early due to COVID-19; and are unable to apply for a new WHM with waiver as they have now passed the relevant age limit.

No maximum time that a former WHM visa holder must have spent in Australia before departure.

New visa or refund must be applied for before end of 2022.

Visitor (subclass 600)

Waiver of VAC for visitor visa applicants whose previous visas ceased, or will cease, while outside Australia due to travel restrictions, between March 2020 and December 2021. Will apply to those who held a Tourist, Approved Destination Status, Business Visitor or Sponsored Family visa which ceased while travel restrictions were in place.

Includes those who were unable to travel to Australia for initial entry, as well as those who had travelled and departed but were unable to return on a multiple entry visa.

New visa must be applied for before end of 2022.

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.