Today the Minister of Immigration The Hon Alan Tudge MP, released details on how temporary resident visa holders may find relief from the Coronavirus emergency.
457 and 482 Visa Holders
Those on skilled shortage visas (457 and 482) have been recognized that your contribution to the Australian workforce will hopefully still be necessary after the crisis dies down, even if you have been stood down, but not laid off, by your employer. In these circumstances your visa will remain unaffected, meaning they will not be looking to cancel your visa. If you are still working, the employer will be able to reduce your working hours without any breach of your visa condition. Good news indeed!
If you have laid off from your employer then there are some concessions but not many I’m afraid. The normal 60 day period still applies to find a new sponsor or you will need to leave Australia or apply for a new visa before this expires. For those lucky enough to be re-employed later, then the PR rules will be changed to your favour. The Minister announced;
Those visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus should leave the country in line with existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. However, should a 4-year visa holder be re-employed after the coronavirus pandemic, their time already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residency skilled work experience requirements.
Student Visa Holders
The Minister has recognized your importance today! Finally. He stated;
There are 565,000 international students in Australia, mainly studying in the higher education or vocational education sector. They are an important contributor to our tertiary sector and economy, supporting 240,000 Australian jobs.
A concession has been made that those here on student visas for more than 12 months can access their superannuation accounts. Most likely they will make you prove some financial hardship for this. Those less than 12 months, unfortunately, it was expected you had enough money to support yourself so there is no relief for you.
The Minister has also recognised that the existing strict visa conditions for students will need to be approached flexibly;
The Government will also be flexible in cases where Coronavirus has prevented international students meeting their visa conditions (such as not being able attend classes).
There is also some hope for financial relief from the education providers themselves;
The Government will undertake further engagement with the international education sector who already provide some financial support for international students facing hardship. For example, we understand there are some education providers that are providing fee discounts to international students.
As far as work permission goes, only those sectors already announced are places where international students can exceed their 40 hours per fortnight limit. Unfortunately, those working stocking supermarket shelves will have to go back to the usual restriction from the 1st of May
The government has added that those on other temporary stay visas will be able to access their superannuation if they need financial support. They stated;
There are another 185,000 other temporary visa holders in Australia, about half of them temporary graduate visa holders. They will also be able to access their Australian superannuation if needed for support.
The Minister’s announcement today for many of you will not have gone far enough to assist. However, on the bright side, there is a high degree of recognition here and more announcements I’m sure will follow as the need increases for some action.
There is more information regarding other visa holders in the Ministers announcement today.
Stay safe out there and more newsletters will be released shortly. If you need help give us a call and make an appointment for a Skype or telephone consultation. Unfortunately we are not able to provide face to face consultations for now. We are still working our usual hours though (and more)!