The Australian Government has now introduced a new Temporary Activity Visa (subclass 408) specifically for temporary residents of Australia caught in Covid-19 Virus issues.

Holders of temporary work TSS482 and 457 visas who are employed in critical sectors may be eligible for this visa under the Australian Government Endorsed Event stream. There are no visa application charges for the COVID-19 Pandemic visa.

On 4 April 2020, the Minister announced that subclass 457 and 482 visa holders will not breach their visa conditions, if their work hours are reduced. The following must apply however:

  • A written agreement in place between you and your sponsor;
  • The sponsor must maintain a copy of the agreement, and document the reason for the change;
  • The role and duties must remain consistent with your nominated occupation;
  • The pro-rata hourly rate of your approved salary in your approved nomination must not decrease;
  • You cannot be employed under a labour agreement.

If your wages need to be reduced this can only be done by submitting a new nomination with a lower wage.

The Australian Government has confirmed that 457 and 482 visa holders who have been ‘stood down’ will be able to maintain their visa validity and will be able to apply for an extension of the visa through the usual application process. These workers will also be able to gain access to their superannuation (up to $10,000) this financial year. You will need to apply direct to your Superannuation fund to access this incentive.

Working holiday makers employed in critical sectors within the Australian workforce who have not completed the 3 or 6 months of specified work required to apply for a second or third Working Holiday Maker visa, and are unable to leave Australia, may be eligible for the new COVID-19 visa. This new visa will allow working holiday visa holders to remain in Australia and to continue to work – until they can return to their home country. Under this stream Seasonal Workers who have a visa expiring, will be able to extend their stay in Australia.

The COVID-19 Pandemic visa is only open to those who are unable to depart Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows you to remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors including healthcare, disability, and aged care, childcare and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the family unit can be included in this visa category. You must be onshore and have 28 days or less remaining on your current visa or your last substantive visa has expired up to 28 day previously before you apply. You can only satisfy this visa requirement if you have no other visa options.

Nursing students in Australia have had their normal work restrictions of 40 hours per fortnight lifted to assist during this crisis period. International students working in supermarkets have also been given longer shifts to accommodate the needs to getting supplies on the shelf.

All 482 and 457 visa holders have workplace rights and entitlements under the Fair Work and Migration Act in Australia. Most people working in Australia are covered by the National Employment Standards which can be found on www.fairwork.gov.au.  The Fair Work Infoline is 131394.

If you are concerned about your situation during this unprecedented time in Australia, jump on www.aboutimmi.com.au and complete their free survey. They will then contact you within 24 hours of receiving your survey.

The worst thing you can do is to listen to a colleague’s story and think yours is the same; or to do nothing and become illegal. Contact www.aboutimmi.com.au for some up to date advice for your particular situation.

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