With travel restrictions and international border closures to remain in place for the time being, the Australian government has implemented certain COVID-19 visa concessions for temporary visa holders both in and outside of Australia.
Understanding what concessions apply to you can help take the stress out of managing your visa status, so we’ve put together a short guide to the latest COVID-19 concessions for key visa categories. This is a general summary only – seek professional advice on how the concessions might work in your particular circumstances.
Summary of COVID-19 concessions
Temporary Skill Shortage Visa – Subclass 482/457
Subclass 457 and 472 visa holders applying for permanent residency under the Subclass 186 Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream whose:
hours were reduced, or
who took unpaid leave due to COVID-19 during the concession period,
can still count this period towards the 3-year full time requirement (or 2 years if grandfathering provisions apply). The concession period is taken to have started from 1 February 2020, and currently has no end date, ie. Your TRT application will NOT be impacted by having worked insufficient hours or being on unpaid leave during the concession period.
If you have been laid off and are currently unemployed, you must find another employer within 60 days or make arrangements to leave Australia, where possible. If unable to return to your home country, you will need to seek other temporary visa options (eg. the COVID Pandemic Event visa).
Temporary Graduate Visa – Subclass 485
Graduates impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions are now able to apply for and be granted a Temporary Graduate visa while outside of Australia (ie. offshore). They must hold or have held a student visa in the past 12 months to apply. Before this concession, most applicants were required to apply for the visa onshore.
Subclass 485 visa applicants can also apply to bring family members to Australia as secondary visa applicants. Additionally, a person who previously held a Subclass 485 visa as a secondary visa holder can still be granted another Subclass 485 visa as the primary applicant.
These concessions give Subclass 485 visa holders the opportunity to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted.
Working Holiday Maker visas – Subclass 417/462
Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) can count critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors undertaken anywhere in Australia as ‘specified work’ to apply for a second or third WHM visa. Generally, you must have carried out between 3 to 6 months of ‘specified’ work to qualify.
This concession also applies to former WHM visa holders who transitioned to a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.
The DHA is taking a flexible approach to student visa conditions and grants. Concessions include:
You will not be in breach of student visa conditions if you have an approved course deferral or are studying online;
You can work for more than 40 hours per fortnight if you are employed in healthcare or aged care;
The student visa application visa fee will be waived if you lodge a further student visa application to complete your study (for students who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and who couldn’t complete their course within their original visa validity due to the impacts of COVID-19).
Family and partner visas
From 27 February 2021, those unable to travel and are applying for a:
Partner (subclass 309) visa
Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa
Child (subclass 101) visa
Adoption (subclass 102) visa
Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa
can be granted a visa while still in Australia. Previously, visas could only be granted if the applicant was offshore.
From 23 March 2021, this same concessions will also apply to:
Parent (Subclass 103) visa
Contributory Parent (Subclass 173) visa
Contributory Parent (Subclass 143) visa
Business Innovation Visa – Subclass 188
During the concession period, Subclass 188 visa holders applying for permanent residency (ie. the Subclass 888 visa) can now count time spent overseas as being time spent in Australia.
The concession period is taken to have started from 1 February 2020, and currently has no end date, ie. Your application will NOT be impacted by being overseas during the concession period. Previously, applicants had to have been in Australia for a least 1 year in the 2 years immediately before applying.
Those in the Business Innovation stream can qualify for this concession if your first 188 visa was granted on or before 30 June 2019.
If you hold any of the above visas, it may be worth seeking advice from a qualified immigration agent or lawyer to figure out exactly how these concessions apply in your specific situation. For each kind of visa, there are also additional complex requirements that need to be met – we can help guide and make the process of acquiring or extending your visa much more efficient and stress free.
DISCLAIMER: No material on this website, including but not limited to documents, articles, general comments, responses and other communications should be interpreted as relevant or accurate legal advice for any individual or specific situation. The information is of a general nature and cannot substitute for professional legal advice. Such advice is only provided by our firm following the acceptance by a client of our written agreement, and the payment of the required fees.