Here are some of your most frequently asked questions in relation to the Government’s new Covid-19 pandemic event visa, designed to assist internationals currently residing in Australia who have no other visa options.
It is a temporary measure and will be reviewed accordingly as the crisis winds down, but depending on your circumstances, it may be a good option for you.
To learn more about whether this particular Government initiative applies to you, please take a look at the FAQs we’ve put together below and check out our recently published guide.
If you have any further questions or need help applying, please do not hesitate to contact the True Blue team for a free assessment.
Who can apply?
- A visa holder currently in Australia
- Unable to leave the country due to travel restrictions
- Left with 28 days or less on your current visa OR holding a visa that expired less than 28 days ago
- Ineligible for any other visa subclass
- Able to provide evidence from your employer that you work within a critical sector
If you answered “yes” to any of the points above, you may be eligible to apply for this visa.
Points of note:
- Agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and childcare are all classed as critical sectors. If you work in any of these industries, are ineligible for any other visa and are unable to return home, you may be able to apply for this visa
- If you hold a Seasonal Worker Programme visa that is due to expire within 28 days, you are also able to apply
- If you hold a temporary visa that is about to expire, you have no other visa options, you cannot return home due to travel restrictions and are working in a critical sector, you may be eligible if you are able to provide evidence of your circumstances
- If you have no other visa options and are unable to leave Australia due to Covid-19, you may apply for a visa of last resort which will allow you to legally stay in Australia until restrictions are lifted and you can return home
When should I apply?
You can apply for this visa at any time if your temporary visa expires in less than 28 days or expired no more than 28 days ago, if you have no other visa options and you’re unable to travel back home due to Covid-19 restrictions.
If I don’t work in a critical sector, am I still able to apply?
Yes, but only if you have no other visa options available to you.
Will my visa be granted with work rights?
If you work within a critical sector, you will be given permission to work whilst holding a Covid-19 pandemic event visa.
If you do not work within a critical sector, you will not be able to work whilst holding this visa.
Details are outlined within condition 8107 of the pandemic event visa. If you don’t comply with conditions, action may be taken to cancel your visa.
How long will the visa be valid for?
If you hold a Seasonal Worker Programme visa, Pacific Labour Scheme visa or other temporary visa and you work within a critical sector, your Pandemic event visa may be granted for up to 12 months.
If you do not work within a critical sector, your Pandemic event visa may be granted for up to 6 months.
Am I working in a critical sector?
Currently, critical sectors include agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and childcare. Before making an application, you should confirm whether your role is in a critical sector. If you need help in doing this, please contact us directly.
The Government may refer to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) in determining whether an occupation falls within a critical sector. Critical sectors may change as the Covid-19 crisis evolves.
Will I be required to submit a letter of endorsement to apply for the visa?
If you work in a critical sector and wish to continue working while holding a Covid-19 pandemic event visa, evidence of your employment such as payslips, and/or a contract or letter from your employer must be provided.
Evidence must include the following:
- The date of your employment
- Which critical sector you work in
- Evidence that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot fill the position
If you are a Doctor or Nurse working within the health care sector, you must show evidence of your medical qualifications along with a letter of employment from the hospital or clinic you work at.
If you are applying for the last resort visa, you must attach a statement advising why you are unable to apply for another type of visa, why you are unable to depart Australia before you current visa expires and the actions you’re taking to arrange your departure as you can once restrictions are lifted and flights to your home country are available.
If I have a no further stay condition attached to my current visa, can I still apply?
The no further stay condition will be automatically waived if you hold a subclass 403 visa in the Seasonal Worker Programme stream with this condition currently attached.
You won’t need to apply for the waiver and can apply for the Covid-19 pandemic event visa if you meet eligibility conditions.
However, you will need to request for the no further stay condition to be waived if you hold any other temporary visa with the no further stay condition currently attached that expires in less than 28 days. You will be unable to apply for most other visas unless it is waived. It is important that you make a new visa application as soon as the condition is waived to avoid your current visa expiring.
Will I incur any costs if I apply for this visa?
There is no Government fee associated with this visa type. True Blue Migration Services is offering discounted visa management fees for this subclass. Depending on your situation, our fees start from just $330.
How long will it take to process my application?
The Government is working as quickly as they can to process visa applications, however due to the high numbers of applications there may be slight delays. Critical sector workers visas are being prioritised.
If the visa you currently hold expires while you’re waiting for the pandemic event visa to be processed, you will be granted a bridging visa to tie you over until your new visa is ready. Bridging visas will hold the same conditions as your current visa. You’ll need to submit as much evidence as possible in your application to avoid delays.
Could I be eligible for this visa if I am currently overseas?
Unfortunately, no. Only people in Australia are able to be granted this visa.
Is a medical examination required to receive this visa?
All applicants and their family members must meet certain health requirements so you may be subjected to a health check.
What else should I consider before applying for this visa?
The following points surrounding health insurance requirements should be taken into account before applying for this visa:
- You will need to arrange health insurance to cover your entire stay in Australia. This may mean extending your current health insurance or applying for health insurance if you haven’t already got it.
- Your cover must include any necessary medical treatment, including transport.
- You are still liable for all health costs while residing in Australia, medical insurance will help limit financial liability.
If you have any questions about what is considered adequate health insurance, please contact us. We’ll be happy to provide you with further information.
What should I do if I am unemployed and applying for the last resort visa?
Application forms have now been updated to accommodate applicants who aren’t working. The question regarding employer details is simply in place for those applying who work in a critical sector.
Can I apply for the Covid-19 pandemic event visa if I am currently on a bridging visa?
Yes, if you meet all the application criteria.
Please note that people who hold a bridging visa with an s.48 bar and/or haven’t held a substantive temporary visa within 28 days prior to applying will not be granted a Pandemic event visa.
How long will this visa last?
The length of time this visa will be valid for differs depending on individual circumstances. The following viability periods apply:
Up to 12 months
Current visa holders working in critical sectors, including Seasonal Worker Program or Working Holiday Maker programme visa holders.
Up to 6 months
All other applicants.
The validity periods may be subject to change as the COVID-19 crisis evolves (eg. when travel bans are lifted, visa holders may be required to return home).
Which sectors are currently listed as critical?
The sectors currently listed as critical are agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and childcare. New sectors may be added and/or current sectors removed as the situation progresses and the need for international workers increases or declines.
We hope this FAQ list has answered the majority of your questions. We will keep you updated as new communications are received from the Australian Government.
Again, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you have any questions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic event visa or your visa status in general. We’re currently offering free visa assessments and can recommend the best pathway for you.