Temporary Visa Holders & The Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Working Study Visa Perth

Temporary Visa Holders & The Coronavirus (Covid-19)

COVID-19 or the corona virus has had a significant effect on temporary Visa holders. Many of whom came to Australia to fill roles that employers could not fill with Australian workers. Here are the most frequently asked questions.

Visitor Visa Holders

Visitor Visa holders in Australia should return home if it is possible to do so.

There are currently over 213,000 visitor Visa holders in Australia.

A visitor Visa only allows a temporary stay and due to current circumstances associated with COVID-19, including state and territory border restrictions, business closures and social distancing requirements, all visitors are encouraged to depart Australia.

If you cannot return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid Visa and engage with the health system when necessary.

Visitor Visa holders should apply for a new Visa before their current Visa expires to maintain their lawful status.

If a visitor has a “No Further Stay” condition on their Visa (including 8503, 8534 or 8535) and less than two months validity remaining, they can request a waiver of this condition to allow them to lodge a new Visa application.

For information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart, contact us.

International Students

The Government is taking a flexible approach in relation to student Visa conditions where COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions have prevented conditions being met, such as attendance at class or use of online learning.

The Government has temporarily relaxed the enforcement of the 40 hour work limitation for the following critical sectors:

  • International students who are existing workers in major supermarkets to help get stock on shelves due to high demand (implemented 7 March).
  • International students who are existing workers in the aged care sector are able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight (implemented on 18 March 2020).

Student Visa holders who are enrolled in nursing can undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials.

Written advice will be provided to approved employers setting out the temporary relaxation of working hours for student Visa holders.

Supermarkets must register with the Department of Home Affairs to be given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for existing workers. A list of registered businesses is published on the Department’s website.

Aged Care service providers should refer to the correspondence provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.

The temporary arrangements only apply to student Visa holders working in supermarkets or aged care providers, as well as student nurses who are supporting health efforts against COVID-19 as directed by health officials.

The arrangements only apply to existing workers in their existing roles.

As the COVID-19 situation develops, it will be determined whether similar measures are required in other critical sectors to ensure the supply of essential goods and services to Australians.

Student Visas holders are already permitted to work in Australia with a usual limitation of 40 hours per fortnight. In light of the current circumstances, these arrangements respond to needs raised by sectors having regard to the critical role that student Visa holders play in their workforce to deliver essential goods and services to the Australian community.

The Department of Home Affairs has set up a form for supermarkets to request access to these temporary arrangements.

The form “Employer request relating to relaxation of enforcement of student Visa working hours” is available online.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers, including international students, have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

All aged care approved providers or Commonwealth funded aged care service providers that have been issued with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student Visa holders. These aged care providers should refer to the correspondence provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.​

If you are unable to support yourself, you should make arrangements to return to your usual country of residence, noting that it is a condition of all student Visas that holders have access to funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay in Australia.

The Government will continue to engage with the international education sector which is providing some financial support for international students facing hardship.

New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV)

New Zealanders and Australians have reciprocal arrangements whereby we can each stay and work in each other’s country.

There are over 670,000 New Zealand citizens in Australia on a TY444 Visa.

If you are a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and meet other eligibility requirements, you will be eligible for all welfare payments, including the Job Seeker and Job Keeper payments.

If you are not a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and you hold a TY444 Visa, you will still be eligible for the Job Keeper payments through your employer.

A person is a protected SCV New Zealand citizen holder if they fall within one of the following groups:

  • in Australia on 26 February 2001
  • in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before this date
  • assessed as a protected SCV by Services Australia holder before 26 February 2004.

More information and advice on protected SCV holders can be found at the Services Australia website.

If you are unable to support yourself, are not eligible for any of the above payments, and unable to find any employment, you should consider returning to New Zealand.

Employer Sponsored Temporary Work Visas

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their Visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their Visa as per normal arrangements.

Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the Visa holder without the person being in breach of their Visa conditions or the business being in breach of their employer obligations.

Those who are laid off (that is, they are unemployed) should find another employer within 60 days or make arrangements to depart Australia, where this is possible.

Those Visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus and who cannot find another employer to sponsor them, should make arrangements to depart Australia.

If you cannot return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid Visa and engage with the health system when necessary.

For information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart contact us for assistance.

Working Holiday Makers

To support the critical sectors of health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing, and childcare, the Government is providing flexible arrangements with regard to ongoing employment of Working Holiday Makers (WHMs).

WHMs working in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and will also be eligible for a further Visa to continue working in these sectors if their current Visa is due to expire in the next six months.

If a WHM is working in the critical sectors of health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing or childcare but is not eligible for a further WHM Visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

If you are unable to support yourself, you should make arrangements to return home.

You can apply for a further WHM Visa if you have undertaken specified work for three months on your first WHM Visa or six months on your second WHM Visa.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 417 (Working Holiday) Visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in regional Australia;
  • fishing and pearling in regional Australia;
  • tree farming and felling in regional Australia;
  • mining in regional Australia;
  • construction in regional Australia; and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31 July 2019.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 462 (Work and Holiday) Visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia;
  • fishing and pearling in northern Australia only;
  • tree farming and felling in northern Australia only;
  • tourism and hospitality in northern Australia only;
  • construction in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia; and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31 July 2019.

You must apply for a new Visa before your current Visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging Visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your Visa application.

Existing arrangements for specified work will remain in place but the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist WHMs working in critical sectors who are not eligible to apply for a further WHM Visa.

If you are working in the health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing or childcare sectors and are unable to return to your home country you can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa. This Visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia and continue working until it is safe and practicable to return to your home country.

While your new application is being processed, a bridging Visa will come into effect which generally carries the same conditions as your previous Visa, including in relation to work rights. You and your employer can check Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) at any time to confirm your work rights.

If you have not completed the 3 or 6 months of specified work required to apply for a second or third WHM Visa, you should apply for another Visa to remain lawfully in Australia until you are able to depart.

If you are working in the health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing or childcare sectors and are unable to return to your home country, you can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa. This Visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working until it is safe and practicable for you to return to your home country.

Bridging Visa Holders

If your Visa has expired, or is about to expire you should consider returning to your home country as quickly as possible if you are able to, particularly if you do not have family support.

Temporary Visa holders who are unable to support themselves over the next six months are strongly encouraged to return home and to make arrangements as quickly as possible to do so.

If you cannot depart Australia, you need to apply for a Bridging Visa in order to regularise your Visa status. You will be expected to depart Australia when travel restrictions are lifted.

  • If you cannot resolve your Visa status, the Department of Home Affairs’ Status Resolution Service (SRS) can help.
  • SRS officers can explain your Visa options and tell you how decisions you make now can affect your options later on. They can also help you plan your departure from Australia, and refer you to other services where necessary.

Your Bridging Visa will keep you lawfully in Australia until a decision has been made on your substantive Visa application. If your substantive Visa is not granted, and you are unable to depart Australia, you will need to apply for a further Bridging Visa to keep you lawful.

Your Bridging Visa will keep you lawfully in Australia until the review decision has been finalised. If your substantive Visa is not granted, and you are unable to depart Australia, you will need to apply for a further Bridging Visa to keep you lawful.

If your Bridging Visa specifies a validity date, and you are unable to depart Australia, you should apply for a further Bridging Visa before it expires.

The Department’s Status Resolution Service can assist eligible individuals wishing to depart from Australia (where this is currently possible). The Department contracts the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Serco (Homeward) as service providers to facilitate its voluntary return and reintegration programs.

Returns assistance may be available and may provide an eligible recipient with one, or any combination of assistance, including:

  • independent returns counselling
  • plane ticket
  • assistance to obtain travel documents
  • reception assistance in country of return
  • travel assistance to final destination

To be considered eligible for returns assistance, you must:

  • be a non-citizen;
  • not hold a Visa that permits re-entry to Australia;
  • elect to voluntarily return to a country-of-origin or a country where you have a right of entry and stay; and
  • demonstrate you are unable to self-fund their return.

Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) provides support for certain non-citizens who are in the Australian community temporarily while their immigration status is being determined. The SRSS program provides short-term, tailored support to individuals who are unable to support themselves while they engage with the Department of Home Affairs to resolve their immigration status. It is not an ongoing welfare entitlement.

People who are actively engaged with the Department to resolve their immigration status and need assistance to overcome barriers to that resolution, may be eligible to be provided with short term support in order to resolve that barrier.

Individuals on a bridging Visa with work rights, and who have the capacity to work, are expected to support themselves while their immigration status is being resolved.

During the COVID-19 period, applications for support under SRSS will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

You might be allowed to work in Australia depending on the conditions of your Bridging Visa. Your grant letter will tell you about these conditions. See if you have work restrictions by using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online Service (VEVO).

If your Bridging Visa does not let you work, or has restrictions on working, you can apply for another Bridging Visa that lets you work. This is only available in some circumstances and you will usually have to demonstrate that you are in financial hardship.

Temporary Visa Measures Supporting The Agriculture Sector

Agriculture is a critical sector that supplies essential goods to all Australians.

To support our agriculture sector, the Government has announced temporary Visa measures to help with the continuity of essential goods and services in response to COVID-19.

The Government will apply flexible arrangements to allow critical workers, including Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme participants and Working Holiday Makers, to extend their stay in Australia.

These temporary arrangements will allow critical workers to remain in Australia, continue to support the agriculture sector, and stabilise the workforce in this critical sector.

Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers will have Visa conditions temporarily relaxed and given options to extend their stay in Australia for a defined period to support the agriculture sector.

    • Seasonal Worker Programme workers with Visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.
    • Pacific Labour Scheme workers with Visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream Visa.
    • Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers, allowing flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands.
    • Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme arrangements, including those relating to employers, will be carried over to the new Visa arrangements, continuing the link with the agricultural sector.

In addition, Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, food processing, aged or health care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

It is critical that this labour force of temporary Visa holders is managed to support the ongoing health of regional communities.

    • State and Territory border restrictions and quarantine requirements will continue to manage the public health risks associated with people moving from cities into agricultural areas.
    • State and Territory governments are responsible for arrangements for safe accommodation of temporary Visa holders working in agriculture to manage the spread of COVID-19, including quarantine and self-isolation requirements.
    • The Department of Home Affairs will accept referrals from State and Territory governments so that Visa holders who do not follow the self-isolation arrangements can be appropriately considered for Visa cancellation, where they pose an unacceptable health risk.

These are temporary measures that will be reviewed regularly by Government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These measures will continue only as long as deemed necessary by Government in consultation with the agriculture industry.

These temporary measures will come into effect from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020.

These temporary measures will ensure the continuity of workers to deliver critical services in the agriculture sector, most importantly the delivery of food supplies to all Australians.

The Government will continue to consult with business as the COVID-19 situation develops to determine whether similar measures are needed for other critical sectors.

The Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa is being utilised to manage the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen due to COVID-19.

  • This Visa will not have a Visa application charge (VAC) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employer arrangements similar to the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Stream will also apply to the subclass 408 Visa. The option is designed to offer an option to those individuals with Visas expiring in the near future, to apply for another Visa to extend their stay, where no other Visa option is available.

The Government is also considering a waiver of certain Visa conditions to allow temporary Visa holders to work more in key sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not all temporary Visas are expiring now – valid Visas remain in force and are not affected by the closure of borders.

The Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme Visas have a condition that requires Visa holders to work for one approved / endorsed employer, unless otherwise approved.

During the COVID-19 period, workers currently in Australia under these programs will be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers. This will allow flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands.

Existing arrangements will continue for seasonal workers employed by approved employers in the pilot regions of Sunraysia, Goulburn/Murray, Riverina and Wimmera-Mallee, which commenced on 1 January 2020.

Seasonal Worker Programme

Agriculture is a critical sector that supplies essential goods to all Australians.

To support our agriculture sector, the Government has announced temporary Visa measures to help with the continuity of essential goods and services in response to COVID-19.

The Government will apply flexible arrangements to allow critical workers, including Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme participants and Working Holiday Makers, to extend their stay in Australia.

These temporary arrangements will allow critical workers to remain in Australia, continue to support the agriculture sector, and stabilise the workforce in this critical sector.

Visa Holders

It is not possible to extend your Visa or apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Seasonal Worker Programme stream Visa in Australia.

You must apply for a new Visa before your current Visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging Visa that will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia until a decision is made on your Visa application.

The Australian Government has announced temporary Visa measures to assist temporary Visa holders currently in Australia working in the agricultural sector, who are currently unable to return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia.

You can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa (from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020).

  • This Visa will not have a Visa application charge (VAC) during the COVID-19 pandemic event.
  • Employer arrangements similar to the Seasonal Worker Programme will also apply to the subclass 408 Visa.
  • This Visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should you wish to do so, until it is safe and practicable for you to return to your home country.

In ordinary circumstances, a condition of your Visa is to remain working for your sponsoring employer for the duration of your Visa, unless written approval is obtained from the Department of Home Affairs.

Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme Visas have a condition that requires Visa holders to work for one approved / endorsed employer, unless otherwise approved.

  • During the COVID-19 period, workers currently in Australia under these programs will be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers. This will allow flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands.
  • Workers and employers are required to advise the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Education, Skills and Employment regarding any change in approved employer, as per existing arrangements.

If your Visa has ceased, the Australian Government has announced temporary Visa measures to assist temporary Visa holders currently in Australia, who are unable to currently return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia.

You can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa (from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020).

  • This Visa will have not have a Visa application charge (VAC) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Employer sponsorship arrangements similar to the Seasonal Worker Programme will also apply to the subclass 408 Visa.
  • This Visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should you wish to do so, until it is safe and practicable for you to return to your home country.

Employers

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist temporary Visa holders currently in Australia, including Seasonal Worker Programme participants, who are unable to currently return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia, and enable flexibility in changing approved employers where required.

  • Under these temporary measures, current approved employers may wish to employ Seasonal Worker Programme participants who have finished employment with their current approved employer, but who are unable to return to their home country.
  • Approved employers, like any employer, may also wish to employ Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa holders (from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020).
    • This Visa will have a nil Visa application charge (VAC) for the COVID-19 pandemic event.
    • Employer sponsorship arrangements similar to the Seasonal Worker Programme will also apply to the subclass 408 Visa.
  • These temporary measures are not intended to prevent the recruitment of Australians to undertake this work.
  • Before seeking access to seasonal workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme, approved employers must first try to recruit Australians.

Where Australian workers are unavailable, employers can also seek seasonal labour through the Working Holiday Maker program.

  • Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

These temporary measures will be in place for a timeframe that allows relevant critical industries to bridge the gap between their immediate needs and the time to recruit, train and on-board Australians.

  • The Department of Home Affairs is working with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to ensure Australians are prioritised for future job opportunities.

Currently, only organisations approved by the Australian Government can recruit seasonal workers under the Seasonal Worker Programme.

Where Australian workers are unavailable, employers can seek seasonal labour through the Working Holiday Maker program.

  • Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Pacific Labour Scheme

Visa Holders

It is possible to apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) Visa in the Pacific Labour stream in Australia, where you and your employer are endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to participate in the scheme.

The application can be made online via the Department of Home Affairs online lodgement portal, ImmiAccount.

In ordinary circumstances, a condition of your Visa is to remain working for your sponsoring employer for the duration of your Visa, unless written approval is obtained from the Department of Home Affairs.

During the COVID-19 period, workers currently in Australia under the Pacific Labour Scheme will be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers. This will allow flexibility and continued support for the agriculture sector in meeting seasonal workforce demands.

Workers and employers are required to advise the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding any change in approved employer, as per existing arrangements.

It is possible to apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Visa in the Pacific Labour stream in Australia, where you and your new employer are endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to participate in the scheme.

Employers

The Government’s priority is securing jobs for Australians, particularly in the current environment where many Australians are out of work.

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist Pacific Labour Scheme participants, who are unable to currently return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia, and enable flexibility in changing approved employers where required.

    • Under these temporary measures, current approved employers may wish to employ Pacific Labour Scheme participants who have finished employment with their current approved employer, but who are unable to return to their home country.
    • Approved employers, like any employer, may also wish to employ Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa holders (from 4 April 2020).
    • These temporary measures are not intended to prevent the recruitment of Australians to undertake this work.
    • Before seeking access to workers under the Pacific Labour Scheme, approved employers must first try to recruit Australians.

Where Australian workers are unavailable, employers can seek seasonal labour through the Working Holiday Maker program.

    • Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

These temporary measures will be in place for a timeframe that allows relevant critical industries to bridge the gap between their immediate needs and the time to recruit, train and on-board Australians.

    • The Department of Home Affairs is working with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to ensure Australians are prioritised for future job opportunities.

Currently, only organisations approved by the Australian Government can recruit Pacific Labour Scheme participants. Information about the Pacific Labour Scheme is available at: http://dfat.gov.au/labourmobility.

Where Australian workers are unavailable, employers can address temporary workforce needs through the Working Holiday Maker program.

Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the six month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Working Holiday Maker Program

Visa Holders

You can apply for a further WHM Visa if you have undertaken specified work for three months on your first WHM Visa or six months on your second WHM Visa.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 417 (Working Holiday) Visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in regional Australia; o fishing and pearling in regional Australia;
  • tree farming and felling in regional Australia;
  • mining in regionalAustralia;
  • construction in regional Australia; and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31July 2019.

The following industries and areas are approved as specified work for subclass 462 (Work and Holiday) Visa holders:

  • plant and animal cultivation in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia;
  • fishing and pearling in northern Australia only;
  • tree farming and felling in northern Australia only;
  • tourism and hospitality in northern Australia only;
  • construction in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia; and
  • bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, carried out after 31July 2019.

 

You must apply for a new Visa before your current Visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging Visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your Visa application.

Existing arrangements for specified work will remain in place.

However, the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist WHMs working in the agricultural sector who are not eligible to apply for a further WHM Visa.

WHMs working in the agricultural sector, who are unable to return to their home country can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa (from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020). This also applies to those working in other critical sectors such as health, aged and disability care and childcare.

  • This Visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should you wish to do so, until it is safe and practicable for you to return to your home country.

Yes, WHMs working in the agricultural sector are already taken to have permission from the Department to work for longer than six months with the same employer.

While your new application is being processed, a bridging Visa will come into effect which generally carries the same conditions as your previous Visa, including in relation to work rights. You and your employer can check Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) at any time to confirm your work rights.

If you have not completed the three or six months of specified work required to apply for a second or third WHM Visa, you should apply for another Visa to remain lawfully in Australia until you are able to depart.

If you are working in the agricultural sector and are unable to return to your home country, you can apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa (from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020). This also applies to those working in other critical sectors such as health, aged and disability care and childcare.

  • This Visa will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should you wish to do so, until it is safe and practicable for you to return to your home country.

Employers

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has announced temporary measures to assist temporary Visa holders currently in Australia, including WHMs, who are currently unable to return to their home country, to extend their stay in Australia.

  • WHMs are already able to work for the same employer in the agricultural sector for up to 12 months, rather than the usual six month limitation for other sectors;
  • If a WHM working in the agricultural sector is not eligible for a further WHM Visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream Visa holders (from 00:00 AEDT on 4 April 2020) to continue working in the agricultural sector. This also applies to those working in other critical sectors such as health, aged and disability care and childcare.

Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

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