GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES NEW VISA OPTION FOR TEMPORARY VISA HOLDERS IMPACTED BY CORONAVIRUS

The Department of Home Affairs is in the process of introducing a new visa stream for temporary visa holders who are impacted by the coronavirus.

As of today, 6 April 2020, a new instrument has been registered that introduces a new stream to the Subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa (available here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00409)

Currently, very limited information has been released and as yet, no policy guidelines are available.

What we know so far is that to be eligible for the new visa, an applicant must be:

  • in Australia;
  • unable to depart Australia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
    either

    • the holder of a temporary visa that is due to expire in 28 days or less; or
    • was the holder of a temporary visa that ceased to be in effect no more than 28 days before the application for a subclass 408 visa is made.

Under the Act, ‘Temporary visa’ is effectively defined as any visa that is not permanent. Therefore, it appears that this option may be available to holders of Visitor visas, Student visas, 482 visas and other temporary work visas.

The instrument also limits eligibility to those who are unable to make a valid application for a visa of the same Subclass as they currently hold or previously held, or any other temporary visa. It is unclear how this will work in practice.

For instance, the ‘genuine temporary entrant’ criterion applicable to most temporary visas could mean that any temporary visa holder would satisfy this requirement. It is otherwise difficult to identify who would be eligible, given that a Visitor visa is available to the vast majority of applicants.

The Department has indicated that no visa application charge will be payable for this stream. There is no endorsement, nomination or sponsorship requirement that is needed for other streams of the 408 visa.

Here at MSM Legal we are constantly monitoring all updates that concern our clients during this COVID-19 period. Our clients, as always, remain our highest priority.