Hon Alan Tudge MP who is currently the acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs has provided information regarding the changes and provisions they have set in place for temporary visa holders currently in Australia. This press release was announced on Saturday 4 April 2020.
The minister has confirmed that 3 key principles were used to guide the changes implemented below. Their first two principles are specific in emphasizing that Australian Citizens and permanent residents are placed as a priority.
The third principle is applicable to non-citizens in Australia i.e. the following temporary visa holders listed below and in relation to the following statement:
Quote: “In critical industries such as health and education, we will provide visa flexibility so that these foreign nationals can stay longer.”
A summary is provided below relating to the areas of concern for non-Australian citizens who are temporarily in Australia during the Corona Crisis period.
VISITOR VISA HOLDERS IN AUSTRALIA
There are 203,000 tourist visa holders in Australia where they can stay up to three months on their current visitor visas. The minister as announced that the current instruction for this visa subclass is that any tourist visa holder should return to their home country as soon as possible if they have no other mechanisms for support such as family in Australia. Those who do have family support must apply for new visa onshore before their current one expires to continue remaining lawful and compliant. Persons who hold visitors’ visas must ensure to apply for a new substantive visa at least 30 days before your current visitor visa expires. Persons who have an 8503 (no further stay) condition on their visitor visas, must apply to remove this condition first before applying for a further visa. In this case for persons who have this condition, we strongly suggest giving yourself at least 8 weeks to allow for the action above.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT VISA HOLDERS IN AUSTRALIA
The third principle referenced by the minister was in respect to acknowledging the key critical industries facing labour shortage in Australia – namely the Health and Education industries.
Specifically, mentioning International student visa holders that are currently in Australia, the Minister stated:
Quote: “They have been a terrific contributor to Australia, supporting Australian jobs. We want them to stay here where they can support themselves. We’re providing additional flexibility for them to support themselves and I’ll also point out that we’re continuing to work with the international education sector on future arrangements as well.
International students are encouraged to first and foremost rely on family support, any savings they may have or on their part time work where that is available to help sustain themselves while in Australia. It’s understood that as part of their student visa application, it is required that the applicant show that in the first year of being a student can certainly support themselves. This is the first expectation for the student for the first year. In the case that the student is unable to support themselves then it is advised that the student might need to consider other arrangements.
Other possible arrangements which may be available for Students who are struggling to support themselves
TEMPORARY SKILLED VISA HOLDERS
Statement from the minister Quote:
“These visa holders are generally on either a two-year or four-year visa via sponsorship through a business requiring a certain set of skills. We note that those businesses who are sponsoring those people many of the are doing it very tough. They’ve had to stand down people or lay off people and that includes some of these foreign nationals on temporary skilled visas. A distinction has been made in terms of our measures between those who have been laid off and those who have been stood down. Individuals who have been stood down or had their hours reduced by their business owner, by their business sponsor, their visa will remain valid. It’s an indication from the business owner that they would like that person to be there and be part of the rebuild once we’re post the corona crisis. The visa holder who was stood down or had hours reduced can stay in the country and will have access to up to $10,000 of their superannuation.
If you have been in Australia for a couple of years already working, no doubt you would have at least that amount of money in your superannuation account. For those who have been laid off, the normal arrangements are going to apply. This means that you will have 60 days to seek another business to sponsor you in the country. If you cannot find another sponsor the usual arrangements will apply where you’ll have to depart the country.” End quote.
WORKING HOLIDAY VISA HOLDERS AND BACKPACKERS ON WORKING HOLIDAY VISAS
Primarily the working holiday visa allows you to work for six months for one employer. The new changes allow for working holiday makers who have the key essential skills and work in the essential industries namely the health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing and childcare sectors, then you will be eligible to work longer than the six months duration that is usually a condition on your working visa. In addition, when nearing the expiry date of your working holiday visa after 1 year, if you have been working or are working in those essential industries the department will extend the visa for a further year. If you are in the second year of your working holiday visa, then you can get a further year extension before your second year expires if you work and continue to work in these essential areas
QUESTIONS POSED TO THE MINISTER DURING THE PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT
QUESTION – ‘If someone is on a working holiday visa and worked for example as a qualified nurse would they be able to work in that industry rather than just in fruit picking? Would they be able to change the industries they’re working in? ‘
ANSWERS – ‘They will already have the ability to work as a nurse. And the changes mean that if they are working as a nurse, they’re coming up to the end of their visa at the end of 12 months. The visa can be rolled out for a further 12 months should that person want to stay. It is encouraged that those people who have those skills to stay.’
‘Essential industries where there are shortages and know they are going to be needing these people, if they are working in those industries now, they will have the ability to stay and extend their visa. That also means, if they are still within their visa rights which goes for a year, they can go and work as a nurse, if they’re working as a nurse, they will have the ability to extend for a further year.’ End quote
QUESTION – Quote – ‘What are the essential/critical industries?’
ANSWERS – ‘The critical industries are outlined in the acting Immigration and Multicultural Minister’s press statement which has already been issued – health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing and childcare. Those are the critical industries that have been identified, people who are working in those sectors, they have the additional work rights.’ End quote
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