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Temporary visa holders and coronavirus

Published 5 April 2020

On 4 April 2020, the Australian Government made two announcements in response to the coronavirus pandemic that affects temporary visa holders in Australia.

Below is a summary of the information currently available. It is important to know that many of these Government announcements have not been made into law yet. This means the final details may change. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as they become available.

 

What financial support is available for me?

Most temporary visa holders with work rights will now be able to access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation, just like Australian citizens and permanent residents. We list some of the visa categories now eligible below.

Applications for early release of superannuation (super) will be accepted through myGov from 20 April. You can learn from the Australian Tax Office.

Unfortunately, most temporary visa holders continue to be ineligible for JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments. There are some exceptions listed below. You can keep up to date with the JobSeeker eligibility criteria here.

 

I am a visitor visa holder. How does the announcement affect me?

There is no real change to your status. It is important that you know your visa expiry date and explore further visa options if you are planning to stay in Australia.

We recommend you obtain migration advice as soon as possible if you want to stay in Australia. You can book your free 15 minute phone or video call with a migration lawyer here.

 

I am a student visa holder. How does the announcement affect me?

International students can have early access to their superannuation if you meet the following two criteria:

  1. You have been in Australia for longer than 12 months AND
  2. You are in a situation of financial hardship

It is also useful to speak to your university if you are facing financial hardship. Some are taking extra steps to support their domestic and international students, such as La Trobe University.

The Australian government has also indicated they will be flexible if students cannot meet all their visa conditions, such as not being able to attend class.

As was previously announced, student visa holders can also work more than 40 hours per fortnight in:

  1. Aged care, for an approved provider
  2. In a supermarket, for an approved supermarket (until 1 May 2020)
  3. In health care, if you are studying nursing and your work is related to fighting the coronavirus pandemic

 

I am a New Zealander on a subclass 444 visa. How does the announcement affect me?

There are 3 different categories of New Zealanders in Australia who are eligible for some welfare support:

  1. Subclass 444 visa holders who arrived before 26 February 2001

You will have access to welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment.

  1. Subclass 444 visa holders who arrived after 2001

You will have access have access to the JobKeeper payment.

  1. Subclass 444 visa holders who have lived in Australia for 10 years or more

You will have access to JobSeeker payments for six months.

We recommend you speak to your employer or to Centrelink further to learn more about your eligibility for these payments.

 

I am a subclass 457 or 482 visa holder. How does the announcement affect me?

The Government has indicated that if you are stood down or your hours are reduced, you will not be in breach of your visa conditions. You will be able to access up to $10,000 of your superannuation if required. Applications for early release of superannuation (super) will be accepted through myGov from 20 April. You can learn from the Australian Tax Office.

If your employment is terminated or you are made redundant, you will need to either:

  1. Find a new sponsor in either 60 or 90 days (depending on your specific visa condition) OR
  2. Leave Australia

The specific detail of this announced change is not yet available, including how it may impact your employer’s sponsorship obligations. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

 

I am a working holiday visa holder. How does this announcement affect me?

The Government has announced you will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the same employer AND you will be eligible for a further visa if your current visa is due to expire in the next 6 months IF you work in one of these critical sectors:

  1. Health
  2. Aged and disability care
  3. Agriculture and food processing
  4. Childcare

If you are moving regions, you are likely to be subjected to 14-day self-isolation requirements.

Again, the specific detail of this change has not been made into law yet so we recommend you monitor updates and speak to a migration lawyer before taking any action based on this announcement.

 

I am a Seasonal Worker Programme or a Pacific Labour Scheme worker. How does the announcement affect me?

You can extend your stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers. If you are moving regions, you are likely to be subjected to 14-day self-isolation requirements.

 

I am a temporary graduate (subclass 485) visa holder. How does this announcement affect me?

You will be able to access up to $10,000 of your superannuation if required. Applications for early release of superannuation (super) will be accepted through myGov from 20 April. You can learn from the Australian Tax Office.

 

 

We note the above is information only and is not legal advice. The information above is current as at the time of publishing and we continue to publish new information as the coronavirus pandemic evolves. We recommend you speak to one of our migration lawyers for a free 15 minute phone or video call to discuss your temporary visa situation. 

You can access the two media releases made by the Australia Government on 4 April 2020 here:

1.                Coronavirus and Temporary Visa holders

2.                Joint media release with the Hon Michael McCormack and the Hon David Littleproud MP – Supporting the agriculture workforce during COVID-19

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