On this page

Some visa holders affected 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

These changes were announced as part of the Federal Budget 2020-21 on 6 October 2020 and have been designed to support holders and former holders of subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visas who have been unable to enter Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Visa Extensions

On 10 December 2020, regulations were made extending the visa validity period to 31 March 2022 for certain Prospective Marriage visa holders who are outside Australia and who held a Prospective Marriage visa at any time between 6 October 2020 and 10 December 2020.

Individual visa holders will be directly notified by the Department.

You may check your current visa details and conditions at any time on the Department’s website at: 

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

If you received an extension to your visa validity period, but you have not travelled to Australia as a holder of this visa, you may become eligible to request a refund of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) paid.

We are currently working to finalise arrangements around how VAC refunds will be managed, with refunds expected to be available by late February 2021.

Former Prospective Marriage visa holders

If your Prospective marriage visa has ceased, and you were not able to enter Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions prior to it ceasing, and the visa has not been extended by the regulations made on 10 December 2020, you may be eligible for a refund of your VAC. It is intended that refunds will be available from late February 2021.

We are currently working to finalise arrangements around how VAC refunds will be managed.

The processing of any subsequent Prospective Marriage or Partner visa applications you may make will be given priority. Processing times for applications will depend on whether the application is complete and meets all the requirements for the visa.

Temporary workers

If you were part of the Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme, you may be eligible for a refund of your VAC if you were:

  • granted a visa before 20 March 2020 and,
  • were unable to travel to Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

If you were granted a Temporary Skill Shortage or Temporary Work (Skilled) visa, you may be able to receive a VAC waiver for a future visa application if you:

  • were unable to enter Australia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions before your visa ceased,
  • travelled to Australia and departed but were unable to return to Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions before your visa ceased.

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 leave Australia early due to COVID-19.

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

Visitors

Visitor visa applicants outside Australia whose previous Visitor visa expired, or will expire, between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 will be able to apply for a Visitor (subclass 600) visa with a nil VAC. This change will come into effect in early 2021. 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.

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 need a new visa 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)

Visitor visa applicants whose previous Visitor (subclass 600) visa expired, or will expire, while outside Australia between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 will be eligible to apply for a Visitor visa with a nil VAC. This change will come into effect in early 2021. 

Eligible visitor visa applicants outside of Australia will be able to apply for a Visitor (subclass 600) visa in the Tourist, Business Visitor, Sponsored Family or Approved Destination Status streams with a nil VAC until 31 December 2022.

The provision includes current and previous visitor visa holders 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 due to the impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

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. VAC refunds are expected to be made available by late February 2021.