THE NEW COVID-19 PANDEMIC EVENT VISA (SUBCLASS 408): AM I ELIGIBLE AND SHOULD I APPLY?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many temporary visa holders have found themselves confused and apprehensive as to what to do next in terms of their Australian visa options. Visa holders may find themselves nearing the end of their visa and are uncertain about their options. Others may be unable to leave Australia due to flight unavailability to their home country.
In response to these concerns, the Australian government has introduced the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (‘AGEE’) stream visa (‘COVID-19 Pandemic event visa’), which is a temporary measure to manage the current circumstances.
This option may not be suitable to everyone and, as such, Ramsden Lawyers would like to provide our current clients and the wider community with some information about the new COVID-19 Pandemic event visa to consider further.
Am I eligible?
Currently, the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa is available to people who are:
- in Australia;
- are unable to leave Australia due to coronavirus;
- have either:
- 28 days or less remaining on their current visa; OR
- their last temporary visa has expired less than 28 days ago; AND
- are not eligible to apply for any other visa based on their intended activities; OR
- have evidence from their employer that they have ongoing work in a critical sector and that an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident cannot fill the position.
Evidently, these circumstances are relatively limited and can be broken into two main categories:
- Last Resort applications, where the purpose of the application would be to protect the applicant’s lawful status in Australia; or
- Critical Sector applications, where the purpose would be to continue working to support the Australian economy during the current, difficult climate.
How long will the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa be valid for?
The COVID-19 Pandemic event visa will be valid for varying periods depending on each person’s individual situation.
However, the general principles adopted by the government would suggest that, typically, Critical Sector applications will be granted a visa for up to 12 months, whereas Last Resort applicants will be granted a visa for up to six months with the validity period dependent on the individual circumstances, such as, when the applicant may be able to return home.
How do I know if I am working in a critical sector?
The Australian government will continue to adapt what is considered a ‘critical sector’ as the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic develops and, as such, it is difficult to confirm a definitive ongoing list of what is and is not critical for the purpose of the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.
The above said, the Australian Government has announced that the current critical sectors includes the following:
- food processing;
- health care;
- aged care; and
- disability care.
Sectors may move from being critical to non-critical and vice versa as the government continues to respond to the pandemic. It is as such, important to careful consult the current list of critical sectors before any application. Should you require assistance in determining whether your occupation would fit this requirement, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced immigration team for assistance.
I have a no further stay condition attached to my current visa
If you hold a other temporary visa* with any of the following no conditions:
- 8534; or
and you cannot depart Australia as planned, you cannot apply for most other visas in Australia unless the condition is waived. You can request to waive this condition if your visa will expire in less than 28 days. If your request is approved, you should make a new visa application before your current visa expires
*If you hold a subclass 403 visa in the Seasonal Worker Program stream, during the COVID-19 period, the condition 8503 (No Further Stay) attached to your visa, this will automatically be waived to allow you to apply for the COVID-19 AGEE stream of the subclass 408 without the need for a waiver application.
I need a visa as a last resort, what do I do now?
If you meet the above requirements in that your visa is expiring or has expired, you are not able to apply for another visa and you aren’t able to leave Australia, you may consider applying for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa to protect your lawful status in Australia.
That being said, this visa may not be the most suitable application for you, and you may be able to apply for a different visa subclass in order to retain your lawful status and continue your stay in Australia.
If you require more information on the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa or want to know what options you may have, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team of immigration lawyers here at Ramsden Lawyers, and we would be pleased to help you in these uncertain and difficult times.