The Australian government has announced changes to temporary visa arrangements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain the validity of their visa, and their employers may extend their visas as per normal arrangements. Employers may also reduce TSS visa holders’ hours without their being in breach of their visa conditions.
  • TSS visa holders laid off because of the COVID-19 virus should leave Australia in accordance with their existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. Nevertheless, for four-year visa holders re-employed after the pandemic, the time they already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residency skilled work experience requirements.
  • Working holiday visa holders employed in critical sectors such as health care, agriculture and food processing, childcare and elderly and disabled care, will be exempt from the six-month limitation and may apply for an additional visa if their visa will expire in the next six months.
  • International student visa holders working in supermarkets, elderly care or nursing may work more than 40 hours per two-week period until May 1, at which time they will again be subject to the limit of 40 hours every two weeks.
  • Visa holders in Australia who have 28 days or less remaining on their current visa, or those who held a visa which expired no more than 28 days ago, may apply for Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) to allow them to:
    • Remain in Australia if they have no other visa option and are unable to depart due to COVID-19 travel restrictions; or
    • Remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors of health, care and agriculture.

Additional information: Many temporary visa holders will be eligible to access their superannuation this financial year should they need to do so to support themselves. Those unable to financially support themselves during this time are advised to leave Australia.

Analysis & Comments: The changes are good news for many temporary visa holders, as those working in essential sectors will be able to continue working during the pandemic while remaining in compliance with the conditions of their visa. Please check Deloitte’s COVID-19 Digital Map, available here, for information on travel restrictions and immigration changes in other countries.

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