Coronavirus Update, TSS, Student and 485 visa holders

Important Update: COVID-19 Concessions for Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visas (18 September 2020)
Student visa holders
  • The Government will be flexible in cases where Coronavirus has prevented international students meeting their visa conditions (such as not being able attend classes).
  • Students who have been here longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation.
  • International students working in supermarkets will have their working hours return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight on 1 May as more Australians are being recruited into these roles
  • International students working in aged care and as nurses continue to have their hours extended to support these critical sectors
AAT – COVID-19 arrangements
  • the AAT will not be conducting any ‘in person’ hearings for the foreseeable future
  • hearings will be conducted by telephone, where the matter is suitable to this format of hearing, including taking witness evidence and interpreted proceedings
MIA and Department of Immigration talks

Migration Institute of Australia has been in negotiations with the Department of Home Affairs to combat the Coronavirus pandemic which has affected everyone in Australia and abroad including Australian citizens, permanent residents, temporary visa holders or unlawful non-citizens. International students and Subclass 482 visa holders are among the those who may have lost their jobs.

Measures are being considered to protect and preserve the entitlements of temporary visa holders and visa applicants and working through the issues with the MIA attempting to find solutions.

Some of the measures MIA have asked the Department to implement include:

  • immediately waive visa condition 8503 for all visa holders currently in Australia so they can apply for other visas
  • create a COVID-19 specific fee-free visa solution which allows work rights and access to Medicare for the duration of the emergency
  • consider extending temporary visas automatically until 30 October 2020 in the first instance
  • immediately remove LMT and SAF requirements
  • MIA have also raised many visa specific issues and business sponsorship obligations in relation to the part-timing of jobs, leave without pay, stand-downs and retrenchments.
  • Matters pertaining to eligibility for Subclasses 186/187 TRT provisions,
  • Transitioning from the Subclasses 188/489 provisional visas to the permanent Subclasses 888/887 visas, and other visa eligibility and sponsorship obligations.
  • solutions for international students who can’t apply for Subclass 485 visas caught offshore by the pandemic and travel restrictions.

The Government doesn’t want to see people become unlawful non-citizens. Temporary visa holders are encouraged to retain lawful status.

TSS visa holders affected by Coronavirus

Both the TSS and 457 are designed to enables employers to address labour shortages by bringing in full time skilled workers where employers can’t source an appropriately skilled Australian worker. If your hours were reduced to part time, you and your employer will still meet their sponsorship obligations even though you would be earning less than the nominated salary. Please see here for updates.

In this article we discuss TSS visa and leave without pay (LWOP), COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and working remotely for TSS visa holders, Changing roles on TSS visa, Termination of employment of TSS visa holder.

Additional exemptions as Determined by the Commissioner

In addition to immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident exemptions to travel restrictions the Commissioner has powers to consider exemptions.

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF) may consider an additional exemption in relation to the travel restrictions currently in place for:

  • ​Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest
  • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports
  • Persons with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exception
  • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia, and their immediate family
  • ​Case-by-case exceptions may also be granted for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.

Exemptions must be granted prior to these travellers undertaking travel to Australia. The request for an exemption through Commissioner’s Discretion must be accompanied by:

    • Passenger details:
    • Case information:
    • Supporting statement

It is important that all travellers provide evidence to us that they meet one of the exemptions above before travelling. For example if are an immediate family member holding a temporary visa you will need to provide us with evidence of your relationship.

Coronavirus and Working Holiday visa holders

We have been contacted by numerous 417/462 visa holders who are in Australia and have lost their jobs and sources of income and are in a situation where they cannot go back to their home countries due to flights being cancelled. Right now there is no government assistance for these visa holders and if their visa is running out they may need to apply for a Visitor visa.

Please see update here.

Applying for a 485 visa (IELTS- PTE cancellations) 

Students who have finished their courses and are eligible to apply for the 485 visa are facing difficulty in organizing their English tests (IELTS and PTE) as they have been cancelled by the test centres so it is advised to plan ahead to take the test.

If you need to sit a test urgently and cannot choose IELTS or PTE due to cancellations the home based TOEFL may be an option but we have inquired if this is acceptable by DHA (we will update this page as soon as a confirmation is received). Please see here for more info.

Update: COVID-19 Concessions for Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visas (18 September 2020)

Likely Changes to Temporary Graduate Visa for International Students Studying Online.

Section 48 barred

Some applicants may be subject to a section 48 bar which previously could have left Australia and then submitted a visa application and then come back onshore. With the current travel restrictions and travel ban this is no longer an option and those in this situation need to wait until these restrictions are lifted or wait offshore until a decision is made on their visa application.

Unlawful Non Citizens

If your visa has expired and you have become unlawful you would need to contact the department and obtain a Bridging visa E to allow you to stay lawfully in Australia while you make arrangements to leave, finalise your immigration matter or wait for an immigration decision. With the current travel restrictions and flights being cancelled your stay can be prolonged and therefore you may ask for work rights if you can demonstrate financial hardship.

Health Examinations, Bupa halts bookings

In light of the current COVID-19 situation and to ensure we can meet Australian Government guidelines, we are currently not taking new bookings and are rescheduling some existing bookings. New bookings will become available in the coming days once existing bookings have been rescheduled.
For customers with existing bookings, you will be notified shortly if your appointment needs to be rescheduled. No action is required from you. Bupa will contact you as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment.
We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work to ensure the safety of our customers and staff.

Travelling from Australia- Outbound restrictions

Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents are restricted from travelling overseas from 25 March 2020 at 12:00hrs AEST.

This travel restriction does not apply to:

  • people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers
  • people engaged in the day to day conduct of outbound and inbound freight
  • people whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities and
  • people travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.

Travellers who believe they meet a travel restriction exemption can apply online to the Commissioner of the ABF.​​

For COVID-19 visa related travel questions / 408 visa eligibility you can book a time here:

https://seekvisa.as.me/covid19 (25 min)

If you would like a comprehensive consultation which includes assessing you for other temporary and permanent visa options (Skilled visas, Employer Sponsored, Partner, etc.) as well, we recommend our standard 45 minute to 1 hour consultation which can be scheduled here:

https://seekvisa.as.me/skype (45 min)

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