This week we will witness the demise of a dear old friend, the COVID Pandemic visa (also known as the Subclass 408 AGEE Visa).
The nifty and free visa was introduced by the Australian Government during the Pandemic, to allow an extension of time for temporary visa holders stuck in Australia due to flight or country restrictions. It was also used to allow skilled workers to remain, as there was a critical shortage of workers during the pandemic due to the huge drop in international student and working holiday makers.
The COVID AGEE was loved by many. A free option for providing temporary residence, it was also a handy way to bridge a gap between visa expiry and next visa being lodged. Availability of the visa did, however, result in a huge number of people remaining in Australia who would have normally left by now – increasing the “Net Overseas Migration” figure to a level deemed unacceptable by the Government.
In 2023, as the pandemic subsided, restrictions were put on the visa to stop new applications being available to anyone other that people who already hold it. On Wednesday, the 31st January 2024, the visa will close entirely. There is no longer any need for the visa because borders are fully opened, and other visas have returned to normal processing.
COVID Visa, you will be sadly missed.
What does this mean?
There are many young people in Australia who currently hold Subclass 408 COVID visas. Some of them have spent a prolonged period in Australia already – on working holiday, student, or graduate visas, and often a series of COVID 408 visas. Some have been in Australia lawfully since 2019, meaning they are approaching 5 years of temporary residence.
Naturally, many are now looking to remain. If you’re in this situation, now is the time to consider your next move, as the last granted COVID AGEE visas will expire after 6 months.
To explore sponsored work or skilled visa options, consider updating your Curriculum Vitae so it is a clear and honest reflection of your work and education. Ask for professional advice from a Registered Migration Agent if you are not sure whether your skill set would allow you to access an employer sponsorship or skilled migration.
If you are in a genuine relationship with an Australian, consider whether you might meet the requirements of a Partner visa. Or maybe you have a partner who is holding another kind of temporary visa – in which case, it may be possible for you to be added to their visa.
Studying in Australia could be an option but be aware that the Department has signalled an intention to prioritise university-based enrolments. People enrolling in short, cheap courses will face increasing scrutiny to assess their intentions, as this visa requires you to be a “Genuine Temporary Entrant”. This could be difficult to demonstrate if you have already been here for several years.
There may be other, less mainstream ways to remain on a visa. But if you don’t feel that you could honestly meet the criteria for another Australia, it’s time to plan your return home.
If you’d like to discuss your situation, and explore any possible visa pathway you may have, we invite you to book a consultation with one of our MARA registered migration agents, by clicking the button below.