On 2 March 2022, Minister Hawke announced further concessions for holders of a number of visas in support of Australia’s COVID recovery, including for the COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visa. These changes are in addition to previously announced enhanced pathways to permanent residence for TSS visa holders and concessions for Student and Graduate visa holders.
COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visa
At the moment, the COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visa is available with no visa application charge for 12 months for any person working in, or with an offer to work in one of the target sectors of agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, childcare, and tourism and hospitality. It has been a useful visa for both individuals and employers in those target sectors. Visa applicants must also be within 90 days of their current visa expiry.
With the new changes, temporary visa holders with work rights will be able to access the COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visa incurring no visa application charges in any sector. The duration will be limited by the sector to a period of:
- 12 months if they work in the key sectors of agriculture food processing health care aged care disability care childcare tourism and hospitality; and
- 6 months if they work in any other sector.
The new arrangements will only be available for COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visa applications made on or after 21 February 2022 by:
- Temporary visa holders who were in Australia prior to 21 February 2022; or
- Temporary visa holders who arrive in Australia after 21 February 2022 and have work rights or a job offer from a Commonwealth funded aged care service at time of application.
Removing sector limitation for eligibility for the COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visa will provide further support to Australian businesses who are struggling in the face of a severe talent shortage. It can also act as a highly valuable and strategic visa for temporary migrants who are working or are able to work in a range of sectors across the economy (for example individuals looking to build experience in order to obtain an employer sponsored visa).
Quick summary of changes
Temporary visa holders may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408), with no government fee if:
- they have a visa which permits work;
- they have less than 90 days until visa expiry;
- have been in Australia prior to 21 February 2022 or arrive in Australia after 21 February 2022 and have work rights or a job offer from a Commonwealth funded aged care service at time of application;
- have an employment contract or an offer of employment in Australia.
Note that these concessions are subject to ongoing review.
Other key updates
Other key updates include:
- Skilled Recognised Graduate (Subclass 476) visas – extensions of 24 months for those engineering graduates who lost time due to border restrictions; and
- Training (Subclass 407) visas – removing the limit on working hours for secondary visa holders across ALL sectors of the economy.
- Open borders – Australia’s borders opened to fully vaccinated international travellers on 21 February 2022. Restrictions are still in place for unvaccinated travellers. Please review the Department website regularly due to the changing nature of the requirements.
To see how a COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) can be used to strategically assist you in achieving your immigration outcomes, feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone (03) 9016 0484 or (02) 8005 1484 for information about how we can help you.