I am a Seasonal worker or part of the Pacific Labour Scheme

Subclass 403 visa holders in the Pacific Labour Scheme

You can apply for another subclass 403 visa in the Pacific Labour Scheme where you and your employer are endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to participate in the scheme. This visa will allow you to stay lawfully in Australia and continue working until you can return to your home country.

Subclass 403 visa holders in the Seasonal Worker Program

Your visa cannot be extended. But, the Australian Government has introduced new measures for those working in critical sectors in response to COVID-19.

You may be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa (COVID-19 Pandemic event visa), if:

  • your visa will expire in 28 days or less
  • your visa has already expired, but no longer than 28 days ago
  • you can’t leave Australia
  • you are working in a COVID-19 critical sector of health care, aged and disability care, childcare, or agriculture and food processing.

This visa will allow you to stay lawfully in Australia and continue working until you can return to your home country. The same Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme arrangements, including those relating to employers, will also apply to the new visa.

Working for another employer

Workers in the Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme are normally only allowed to work for one Sponsor/Approved Employer, unless the Department of Home Affairs gives you permission to change.

During the COVID-19 period, you can move between Sponsors/Approved Employers. If you need to move between Sponsors/Approved Employers, your employer must contact:

  • the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, if you are a Seasonal Worker
  • the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, if you are working in the Pacific Labour Scheme.

Under these temporary arrangements, employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws and you will continue to have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

Visa condition 8503 (No Further Stay)

For the subclass 403 visa in the Seasonal Worker Program, 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 a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.

You will not need to apply for a waiver of condition 8503.

Stay periods on existing visas

The stay period on an existing visa cannot be extended. Your visa will cease if you are still in Australia at the end of your stay period. If you cannot depart Australia before your stay period ends, you should apply for another visa to remain lawful until you are can leave Australia.

You should discuss your circumstances with your employer. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment is working with Approved Employers to provide seasonal workers with ongoing work opportunities and ensure they are safe and supported.

You may be eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa if you cannot meet the requirements for another visa, including a visitor visa.

You’ll need to demonstrate why you can’t meet the requirements for another visa. This could include a statement and evidence that you do not have access to sufficient funds to be able to pay a further visa application charge (VAC).

Quarantine requirements

All visa holders must follow all COVID-19 health measures, including social distancing and self-isolation.

State and Territory governments are responsible for quarantine and self-isolation requirements for temporary visa holders working in agriculture to manage the spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Home Affairs accepts referrals from State and Territory governments so that visa holders who do not follow public health and quarantine laws can be considered for visa cancellation where they pose an unacceptable health risk.

Information on the laws for each State and Territory can be found at the following links:

Visa holders experiencing financial difficulties

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

If you are unable to meet your immediate living expenses, you may be able to access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year.