On the 31st of August 2023, the Department of Home Affairs announced that the 408 Covid Stream visa will be completely closed by February 2024. Its closure comes in two stages.
The first stage of its cessation process was abrupt, which gave eligible applicants only two days (31st of August on the day of the announcement and on the following day) to lodge their application. Applicants on temporary visas who are not on a 408 Covid Stream visa were only allowed to lodge the said visa application until the 1st of September 2023.
On the second stage, current 408 Covid Stream visa holders whose visa is expiring within ninety days from the date of application and are employed or are on the way to receiving a job offer can still lodge their next 408 Covid Stream visa before it closes in February 2024. From the 2nd of September 2023, a visa charge of $405 will apply and the visa duration grant will only be granted for six months.
The 408 Covid Stream visa became available in 2020 for people who found it difficult to leave Australia and for them to be able to legally stay in Australia during the pandemic. The visa grant duration when first introduced varied from 3 months to 12 months depending on the applicants’ circumstance.
In March 2022, the Department of Home Affairs released a new legislative instrument that made the 408 Covid Stream visa accessible to more people including those who held Visitor Visas who had arrived in Australia before the 21 of February 2023 or those who were offered a position in a Commonwealth-funded Aged Care facility. This change gave an opportunity for eligible temporary visa holders to work full-time and escape the conditions imposed on their previous visas. For example, TSS 482 visa holders were able to switch to another employer using the 408 Covid Stream visa without having to apply for a new nomination. Another and a more common example was Student Visa holders who were able to stop or defer their studies so they could work full time and not spend money on tuition fees.
With the 408 Covid Stream visa closure, many temporary visa holders are anxious to know their other visa options before their current visa expires. If you want to check your next visa options, it is best to seek advice from a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer at least three months before your current visa expires, or earlier.
Johanna Bertumen Nonato is a Lawyer at Dragon Legal Services, a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1386856) and the CEO of BridgeAus Migration Consultancy. For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0416 455 453.