If you’ve been disadvantaged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian government has arranged a number of concessions to help you continue on your visa pathway.
There are concessions for:
Students can work more than 40 hours per fortnight if they work in the Health Care or Aged Care sector. They can also study online or defer their course without being in breach of their visa conditions.
Holders of a 457/482 visa who have had their hours reduced or taken unpaid leave may still be eligible for a 186 visa. If they have an age exemption to the Fair Work High Income Threshold, they will continue to have this concession even if their earnings have been reduced due to COVID-19.
Holders of 188 or 888 visas have concessions relating to specified periods of residence and/or time that it takes to set up and establish a business in Australia. If COVID-19 has scuttled certain business plans, concessions are available.
Due to the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19, subclass 485 applications and grants can now be made from outside of Australia. This allows former international students the opportunity to be granted a visa to return to Australia when travel restrictions are lifted. Furthermore, the period a former student can wait until applying for their visa is now 12 months instead of the usual 6 months from the time they graduate till the time they apply for the visa.
Prospective applicants for the subclass 887 visa can make their visa application outside Australia during the concession period and be granted the visa while they are outside Australia. Applicants outside of Australia who lodge during the concession period are given access to shorter employment requirements and shorter residence requirements.
These applicants must provide evidence of at least:
- 9 months full-time work in a specified regional area (or, if the Minister specifies a shorter period in a legislative instrument, that shorter period), and
- 18 months residence in a specified regional area (or, if the Minister specifies a shorter period in a legislative instrument, that shorter period).
Prospective applicants for the subclass 887 visa can make their visa application inside Australia who lodge during the concession period are given access to shorter employment requirements.
These applicants must provide evidence of at least:
- 9 months full-time work in a specified regional area, and
- 2 years of residence in a specified regional area.
Some family visas require the applicant to be outside Australia when the visa is granted. Due to the travel disruptions the government is taking a flexible approach by allowing more time to get offshore, or in some circumstances, granting the family visa whilst the applicant is in Australia.
The COVID-19 concession period commences from 1 February 2020 and is an interim arrangement. There has been no announcement as to when it will end. Visit our news page for updates.
It’s important to note that the government is continually reviewing arrangements for visas during the pandemic. Each visa class has different concessions, and these concessions may change at any time. Contact us or call us on +61 7 55920755 for up to the minute information and advice.
Waivers and Refunds
Some visa holders and applicants may be eligible for a refund, waiver or extension. Here is a summary:
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.
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.
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.