As governments, at both state and federal level, strive to accommodate the developing needs of existing visa holders in Australia, an overhaul of existing guidelines is bringing much-needed relief and clarification to all those impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns.
This week brought some welcomed news for temporary visa holders.
Health Waiver for temporary visa holders
Significant new measures have been announced, relating to the manner in which visa applicants with disabilities may be costed against prevailing health requirements.
Until recently, applicants for temporary visas had their health concerns considered as to whether they may “result in a significant cost to the community” and/or “prevent Australian citizens from accessing health care or community services in short supply.” This has now been expanded however, to provide for compassionate and compelling circumstances, as well as the ability of self or family to lessen the potential cost of the health condition and the applicant’s consequential reliance upon local health care or community services.
Applicants were effectively costed against the potential use of state disability services, despite the fact that they were technically ineligible for such services. The recent changes indicate that a number of applicants for 482 visas, student visas or visitor visas, who might previously have been unsuccessful due to disability issues, may now meet health requirements.
Additional financial support
ACT has followed Tasmania in pledging a $450,000 financial support package to provide emergency relief for temporary visa holders and international students who are faced with financial hardship following the community impact of COVID-19.
This support program will provide $140,000 to asylum seeker groups, $160,000 via the Australian Red Cross to assist temporary visa holders, with the remaining $150,000 also assigned via the Australian Red Cross, to help struggling international students who have been impacted by the pandemic.
In recognition of their vital contribution to the state’s education system and to its overall economy, a $45 million International Student Emergency Relief Fund will be established by the Victorian government, designed to ensure that the state’s 40,000 international students will be able to purchase their basic necessities until the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
Impacted students will receive a one-off payment of up to $1,100.00.
Amended measures for temporary skilled visa holders
There are approximately 139,000 temporary skilled visa holders in Australia. They were provided with their visas to cover a variety of skills shortages, many of which may once again emerge when the current crisis has passed.
Because of this, those visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will now maintain their visa validity and businesses will be provided with opportunities to ultimately resume their visas as per normal arrangements. As announced by Acting Immigration Minister, Alan Tudge, businesses will also be permitted to reduce required working hours for visa holders, without risking a breach of visa conditions.
Those who are laid off however, are encouraged to return to their home countries with the government’s undertaking that, should current four-year visa holders return for future employment following the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions, their time spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residency skilled work requirements.
Precise Rules governing these developments are still being formulated, so watch this space!
It’s our mission to keep you informed
Immigration law is a complex area; one which is constantly developing and evolving. We make it our business to stay in the forefront of this evolution, armed with the knowledge, skills and optimism, providing clients with current information, real guidance and the genuine assistance they deserve.
For more information on these or on any relating issues, contact the migration experts – Sellanes Clark and Associates – specialising in all immigration matters.