Relief for Temporary Visa Holders

People on Temporary Visas in Australia – particularly those who have work rights – have been waiting anxiously for the Government to consider their situation in the context of the COVID-19 disruptions.  Many have lost their jobs and are without income. 

There are approximately 2.17 million people in Australia on temporary visas at present, which is a significant percentage of our community.

Yesterday the Minister for Home Affairs announced some relief measures for temporary visa holders, along with some recommendations.   

Below is a summary of the main announcements and recommendations, by type of visa held.

  • Those who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa.   
  • The validity period of the visa can be extended by businesses under normal arrangements.
  • Sponsoring Businesses will be permitted to reduce their hours of work without the person being in breach of their visa conditions. 
  • The visa holder will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation balance this financial year. 
  • If a visa holder cannot obtain a new sponsor, they should leave Australia, but if they are later re-employed, the time spent already in Australia will count towards permanent residency, if they are eligible.  
  • WHV Holders working in critical sectors of Health, Aged and Disability Care; Agriculture and Food Processing, and Childcare, will be exempt from the 6 month rule with one employer.   
  • Further, they are eligible for a further visa to keep working in these sectors if their current visa will expire in 6 months. 
  • Those who arrived before 26th February 2001 will have access to welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment. 
  • Those who arrived after 26th February 2001 will have access only to the JobKeeper payment, not welfare. 
  • Encouraged to rely on family support, part time work and their own savings.
  • If students have been here longer than 12 months and are in financial hardship,  they will be able to access their superannuation.
  • Flexibility will be shown in relation to compliance with condition requiring classes to be attended, if Coronavirus has affected this. 
  • While students can work up to 40 hours a fortnight, those working in Aged Care and as Nurses have had their work  hours extended.
  • Those working in supermarkets have also had their hours extended temporarily until May 1. 
  • These people will be able to access their Superannuation if needed for support. 
  • People holding a Visitor Visa are encouraged to return home as quickly as possible, particularly those without family support. 

In all cases, the Government is recommending that people holding temporary visas who feel they are not able to support themselves financially over the next 6 months, to make arrangements to return home as soon as possible. 

What does this mean for you?

As with all ministerial announcements, there is a lot of detail to yet come.  More information should be available to us after the Department has finalised the arrangements.  There will also be people who do not fit neatly into one of the categories listed. 

We will continue to monitor this situation closely and provide updates via our COVID-19 Travel and Visa Updates page.

This post is to summarise and alert you to the Minister’s announcements, not to provide specific migration advice.   

  • If you feel you need individual migration advice under the circumstances, feel free to contact us for help
  • Further, we recommend that, if you need financial advice, you should consult a Licensed Financial Advisor 
  • If you, or your employer,  needs advice about your employment status, you should consult an Employment Lawyer

Leanne Stevens

CEO, Emergico // Registered Migration Agent (#1171279)