Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, we have relied on the 408 Covid Stream Visa to extend the stay of temporary visa holders who were stuck in Australia and could not return to their country of origin; or to enable employees to continue working in the critical sectors. There have always been doubts on how long this visa will be available but the Home Affairs\’ latest updates on this visa might mean that this visa would still be available in the next months or even years.
This article intends to provide the changes on the eligibility criteria for the 408 Covid Stream Visa and draw some examples on the effect of these changes to visa applicants.
Removal of previous criteria
There were two key criteria which were taken out since the 21st of February 2022.
The requirement that the visa applicant is unable to depart Australia due to the pandemic has been removed. This makes sense because it has become easier to travel outside of Australia as many countries have opened their borders.
The other visa criteria that was removed was the last resort visa requirement. This means that visa applicants no longer have to justify that they are not eligible for other temporary visas at the time they apply for their 408 Covid stream visa.
Before this visa update was implemented, student visa holders whose visas were about to expire could not apply for the 408 Covid Stream Visa if they were still enrolled as they would not satisfy the last resort visa requirement. Now, student visa holders whose visas are expiring within 90 days can be eligible for the 408 Covid Stream Visa if they are in Australia, currently working or have received a job offer.
Updated eligibility options
Previously, only visa applicants who work in the critical sectors are eligible to apply for the 408 Covid Stream Visa if their current visa is expiring within 90 days or has expired within 28 days from the time of 408 visa lodgement. Now, new 408 Covid Stream Visa applicants can be eligible if they are in Australia and:
1. Hold a temporary visa with work rights, working or have received a job offer; or
2. Hold a temporary visa without work rights, working or have received a job offer and arrived in Australia before 21 February 2022; or
3. Hold a temporary visa, are employed or have a job offer from a Commonwealth funded aged care service provider; or
4. Hold a 403 Seasonal Worker Visa and are employed or have a job offer from an approved employer under the Seasonal Worker Program.
More people can apply for the 408 Covid Stream Visa because of these new eligibility options. This is great news for people whose current visa is expiring and are looking for ways to continue working in Australia.
There is no visa application fee for this visa and applicants who work in critical sectors get approved for 12 months duration. Those who do not work in critical sectors get 6 months of visa duration. Currently, the industries under the critical sectors are:
- food processing
- health care
- aged care
- disability care
- child care, and
- tourism and hospitality
You can find more information about the 408 Covid Stream Visa on the link below:
If you want to check your eligibility for this visa, it is best to get advice or assistance from a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer.