The Australian immigration department released new laws giving a much-needed concession to current visa holders who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This is wonderful news. Concessions will impact the Skilled Regional 887 visa, Temporary Graduate 485 visa, Safe Haven 790 visa and Business Innovation and Investment 188 / 888 visas. These concessions are amendments that have been made to immigration regulations to allow flexibility in meeting the requirements for the aforementioned visas.

The 887 is a permanent visa that one applies for after meeting requirements on the now-defunct 489 visa. Amendments will allow 489 visa holders to apply for and be granted an 887 visa while outside Australia during the concession period. The concession period is stated to be from 1 February this year and the date it concludes has yet to be determined, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage on outside Australia and borders look to remain closed for the foreseeable future. The concession period exists to help more quickly identify and cover those who were impacted by the pandemic from the start of this year. 

Typically 489 holders would be required to reside and work in specific regional areas in Australia for a period of time before being eligible for the permanent 887. They would also need to be in Australia for the grant of the 887. 

Read: Legislative Instrument – Covid-19 Visa Concessions

Read: Applying For Your 887 Visa

Read: Graduate 485 Visa Part 1

Those who were stuck outside of Australia during the concession period will be taken to have met 6 months of the 887 residence requirement. The work requirement will be reduced from 12 to 9 months for those who apply no later than 3 months after the concession period ends, which is currently an unknown date.

Those whose 489 visas expired during the concession period may be eligible for some of these concessions and be eligible to apply offshore.

The department has stated  “reasonable limits have been placed on concessions in order to strike a balance between providing flexibility and maintaining program integrity.”

These concessions take into account the difficulties faced by Australia’s temporary residents affected by travel restrictions and unemployment. Additionally, they will be advantageous for regional businesses with labour shortages in the long run, benefiting families and recovery of the Australian economy. 

Those wanting to apply for the 485 visa but are offshore are also handed a lifeline. You will be able to apply for and be granted the 485 whilst offshore. You will not need to meet the usual requirement of having held a student visa within the 6 months before your 485 application. Also, whilst you previously needed to complete the Australian Study Requirement also within the 6 months prior to the 485 application, eligible parties will have this extended to be within 12 months before applying for the 485 visa.

A lot of the concessions relate to completing a period of time of residence, work or study, and or in the application itself. The concessions do not make you immediately eligible for visas. The concessions can apply to you but you could still be short of meeting requirements, which means you will still not be eligible for your visa. If you need help figuring out if you are covered by these amendments and if they can actually help you, do reach out.