Last week, the Australian government announced two major measures for expat workers in Australia. Firstly, student visa holders will be able to work full time in hospitality and tourism alongside other critical sectors. Secondly, the subclass 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa will also allow its visa holders to benefit from full-time working rights in critical sectors. If you decided to live in Australia a few years ago and are looking for further information about the 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa, this article is for you!
Do you still want to live in Australia? Apply for free
“I was working in a critical sector, and planning to go on a student visa but didn’t know how I could find the necessary funds to apply, told us Martha, a Spanish student. I still wanted to live in Australia so the 408 COVID-19 was a huge relief for me. I’ll be able to enjoy Australia one more year”. If just like Martha, you are struggling with money and wondering how you could stay in Australia, the 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa might be a good option: it is free to apply and gives you the possibility to stay on the island for up to 12 months. So, how does it work?
Anyone living in Australia, who has health insurance and holds a visa that expires in 90 days or for which their last substantive visa expired 28 days or less ago can apply. Other conditions to apply include: not having debts towards the Australian government, having enough money to stay in Australia and never have had a visa refused before. A dependant can also be added to the visa.
If your dream is still to live in Australia but you don’t work in critical sectors, you can apply too!
The 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa is quite flexible. If you aren’t working in a critical sector – namely agriculture, food processing, health care, childcare, disability care, tourism, and hospitality – you can still apply for it but will only be able to stay up to 3 months. Note that critical sectors such as hospitality allow you to work in various jobs including marketing, sales, admin, and cleaning.
Similarly, if you have been willing to go back to your home country but couldn’t because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions and are not able to apply for another visa, you can opt for this one. You will then need to explain why the restrictions prevented your departure. Holding a visa that expires in 90 days or less, or proving that your last substantive visa expired less than 28 days ago will also be necessary.
Finally, if you still want to live in Australia to work in a critical sector, you will need to have evidence of your employment. You will also be required to hold a visa that expires in 90 days or less or to prove that your last substantive visa expired less than 28 days ago. Anyone who was already on a COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa before can be eligible for another COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa if they work in critical sectors or if they cannot come back to their home country.
Additional points to note: If you are on a WHV, you can apply for this visa even if you haven’t done your 88 days. When on a COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa, you will be able to work more than 6 months with the same employer.
What are the main differences between the COVID-19 Visa and the Student Visa?
If both the student and the COVID-19 visas allow you to benefit from full-time working rights in critical sectors, they have a few significant differences.
Firstly, the student visa gives you the possibility to work in 2 jobs of 20 hours each, as long as they are both in critical sectors. The COVID-19 visa, on another hand, only allows you to work for one employer and no ABN is allowed.
Moreover, if both visas enable holders to add dependants, they don’t benefit from the same rights. If you are on a student visa, your dependant will be able to have full-time working rights in critical sectors. They will have no working rights if you are on a COVID-19 visa.
Choosing the right visa to live in Australia according to your situation
Finally, if you are wishing to stay long-term in Australia, a student visa might be a better option. At the moment, the Australian government is very flexible and rejects only 1% of student visas applications. This visa will allow you to study and pursue a career in your field of studies. Most of all, this will be an easier way to prove your genuine wish to live in Australia to follow your vocation when applying for your PR (Permanent Residency).
However, if you are running out of money but still want to live in Australia, even for a year, the COVID-19 Visa could be a great option for you. You will be able to work full time on a wide range of critical sectors without spending money on a visa or a course. It is also a pretty flexible visa to apply to. If you have applied for a student visa for instance and changed your mind, you can withdraw your application while you are on a bridging visa to apply for a COVID-19 Visa. This will work as long as you do so 28 days after your last visa expiry date.
Choosing the right visa to live in Australia truly depends on your goals and needs. We understand that it can be a difficult choice to make and are, as usual, here for you. If you feel like you need more information depending on your situation, call us! We will give you all the information and advice you need for free. You still find the process confusing? We can make your student visa application for free and your COVID-19 Pandemic Event for 250 AUD (instead of 500 AUD in most immigration agencies). Let’s get in touch!
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