How does the coronavirus pandemic impact migrants in Australia?

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been felt across Australia as it has effectively stalled migration to Australia for many.

The impact has caused a number of visitors to have to extend their time in Australia and many who had been preparing for migration to halt their plans.

Migrants are already amongst the most vulnerable within the Australian community and are now facing an unpredictable hindrance to their strategy for permanent residency in Australia.

Rostron Carlyle Rojas Lawyers are here to support migrants impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as they attempt to find answers for the many questions that remain unanswered by the Australia Government.

In this article we have compiled critical information to support visa holders during this difficult time. If you require further information, do not hesitate to contact us on 07 3009 8444 or write to [email protected].

If your visa has expired or is about to expire:

If your visa has expired, you should make arrangements to leave Australia within 28 days of your visa expiry date.

If this is not an option for you, you must apply for another visa to ensure you remain lawful in Australia. You may consider applying for a Bridging Visa E (BVE) to stay lawful within Australia.

It is important to be aware that whilst this visa allows you to remain lawful while preparing to depart Australia, it carries a stigma and may impact your future visa applications to Australia.

If your visa has expired over 28 days ago, there are limited options available to stabilize your status in Australia and we recommend coming to us to discuss your options.

If your visa will expire in the next 28 days or has expired and it has not been 28 days and you are unable to apply for any other visa subclass to remain lawful in Australia, you may be eligible for the new pandemic stream under the subclass 408 visa.

If you do not know your current visa expiry date you should check your visa status through VEVO to ensure that you remain lawful within Australia and can plan appropriately.

Visitor visa holders:

Visitor visa holders have been advised to return to their home country as soon as possible by the Australian Government, especially if they cannot support themselves financially.

If you are unable to return to your home country and you can prove that you have a genuine intention to remain temporarily in Australia, you may wish to apply to extend your visitor visa.

If you hold an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), you cannot apply to extend your ETA travel facility. You must apply for a new visitor visa as a means to extend your time in Australia.

Prior to applying to extend your stay in Australia, you must check if your current visa grant letter contains any of the following No Further Stay conditions – condition 8503, condition 8534 or condition 8535. If your visa contains any of these conditions, you must apply to have these conditions waived before applying for a visa to extend your time in Australia. We can help you in this circumstance.

Student Visa holders

If you are an international student in Australia, the Australia Government has advised that you should return home if you cannot support yourself financially.
If you wish to remain in Australia, the Australian Government has taken a flexible approach to the conditions of your visa. Importantly, you should continue to ensure you comply with the conditions of your visa as best as you can to avoid a potential visa cancellation.

If your course is officially ‘out of session’ or you are studying a masters by research or a doctoral course, you may work unlimited hours on your visa. If your course has been ‘deferred’ you can work over 40 hours per fortnight.

On 7 March 2020 the Australian Government relaxed the 40-hour work limit for student visa holders working in supermarkets. Please be aware that this relaxation of hours was a temporary measure and it will cease on 1 May 2020. Following this announcement, the Australian Government announced the relaxation of hours for student visa holders working in aged care Approved Providers or Commonwealth-funded aged care services.

Finally, as of 23 April 2020, all student visa holders enrolled in relevant health care related courses and supporting the coronavirus pandemic were exempted from the 40-hour per fortnight work limitation. This exemption has also been made available to student visa holders working for registered National Disability Insurance Scheme providers.

If your student visa is about to expire, you may be eligible to apply for a visitor visa to ensure you can remain lawful in Australia, or alternatively apply for the subclass 408 visa under the pandemic stream. If you need more time to complete your study,

Under migration law you are not permitted to extend a student visa, therefore if you need more time to complete your study you must apply for a new student visa at least 6 weeks prior to the expiry of your current student visa.

Working Holiday Makers:

The Australian Government has relaxed provisions for working holiday makers in certain critical sectors. If you wish to know more about this, please contact us.

Temporary Skills Shortage Visa holders (subclass 482 and 457)

If you currently hold a work visa in Australia, and you have been formally ‘stood down’ but not laid off from work due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Australia Government will not consider this to be a breach of your visa conditions.

Your employer is also entitled to reduce your work hours without this causing a breach of your visa conditions.

However, if you are laid off due to the coronavirus you must find a new employer within 60 days or face visa cancellation.
Please be aware that temporary visa holders are not entitled to Job Keeper payments.

Job Keeper Benefit

At this time the Australia Government is only allowing Australian Citizens, Permanent Residents and Special Category visa holders the opportunity to apply for Job Keeper benefits.

All temporary and provisional visa holders are not currently eligible for Job Keeper benefits.

Section 48 Bar:

The Australian Government has advised all State and Territory Governments to cease inviting visa holders who are currently barred from applying for most visas under Australia’s Migration Program due to section 48 of the Migration Act.

This means that if you were refused a substantive visa in Australia (whilst holding a Bridging Visa) and have appealed the refusal decision, you are unable to be invited for State or Territory nomination at this time. You can confirm if you are subject to section 48 of the Migration Act by reviewing your refusal notification from the Department of Home Affairs or contacting our office for further information.

If you have any questions regarding the information in this article, please do not hesitate to contact us on 07 3009 8444 or write to: [email protected].

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