Assistance for Australian temporary visa holders

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Background

It is absolutely a tough start for people resides in Australia in 2020.

At the beginning of this year, an outbreak of the Covid-19 occurred in China. To prevent this in Australia, Australia government has implemented a travel ban on 1st February, which stated non-Australian citizens (except permanent residents) in mainland China must not enter Australia within 14 days of leaving or transiting mainland China. On 20th March, the Australian government officially upgraded the ban into a global scale, stating non-Australian citizens in all countries are banned from entering the country. As soon as the ban took effect, the way of returning back to Australia through third countries was also blocked.

According to data from the Australian Department of Home Affairs, although 31,196 Chinese students arrived in Australia through a third country transit at that time, an estimated 70,000 international students still failed to enter. In addition to these 70,000 international students, there are still other temporary visa holders who have already granted visa but not yet entered have been blockd out of the border gate.

Those overseas Australian visa holders have no way to return to Australia, their studies and work are forced to be interrupted. What’s worse, some of them are even separated from their family and loved ones, and their future life plans are completely disrupted.

However, those who stays in Australia do not have a easy life as well. The epidemic itself and the social ban imposed during the epidemic severely hit all walks of life. Graduates, work permit holders, backpackers and other groups are facing the dilemma of working hours / income requirements that do not satisfy their visa requirements. Additionallly, many visitor visa (tourist/family steam) holders may even violate immigration laws because they can not leave due to the epidemic. These huge groups are in a very difficult situation since susidices and additional support can not be gained from the Australian government.

 

Who was affected or disadvantaged in this outbreak?

1. All international students, no matter currently inside or outside Australia, some of them are forced to break off their studies, some lose part-time jobs and income sources, some are unable to find a job which may affect future employment planning, and some are even seperated from their family and unable to reunite.

2. Prospective graduates and fresh graduates in Australia are facing difficulties in finding jobs or the length of work is limited after applying for temporary graduate visa, which even affects the bonus points in terms of work exeprience in their future skilled migrants. Besides, Those who have been blocked outside Australia will be likely to miss the time limit (within 6 months of graduation as required by law) for 485 visa application.

3. Other temporary resident visa holders can only stay at home during the epidemic, and cannot carry out the original work and study plans. They may also face difficulties in applying for new visas in the future.

 

The petition appealed:

All temporary visas (including 500, 600, 485, 489, 491, 462 and 482 etc.)

1. Automatic extension of the validity of all Australian temporary visas for a minimum of 6 months;

2. All temporary resident visa holders can also receive government subsidies if they experience job loss or financial difficulties;

3. Immediate waiver of all 8503, 8534 and 8535 visa conditions and allowance for new visas to be applied for staying in Australia;

4. A bridging visa may be provided if they are unable to leave due to epidemic conditions, such as cancellation of flights or border restrictions;

5. Temporary waiver of the requirement of the first landing date of the visa granted overseas;

6. Occupations such as nurses who contributed to this outbreak will receive additional EOI scores for future skilled migrants;

7. If affected by the epidemic, couples who are difficult to reunite will be given special consideration in the assessment of spouse relationship materials in future visa applications.

 

485 work visa applicants or holders:

8. For 485 visa applicants whose visa has not yet been granted, extension of the 485 visa validity period or delay the 485 visa application if nececessary;

9. Graduates who cannot return to Australia because of the ban can return to Australia to apply for 485 within 3 months after the ban is lifted;

10.Students affected by the epidemic who are studying abroad online will not be affected if they  apply for a 485 work visa after graduation.

 

500 student visa holders:

11. Delayed graduation due to the epidemic situation will not affect the subsequent application for a new 500 student visa, and visa fees will be waived.

 

Holders of 489/491 work visas in remote areas:

12. For applicants 489/491 upgrading to 887/191, reducing or waiving part of the working hours and income requirements, and correspondingly reduce the residence requirements during the epidemic period.

 

Working Holiday Visa Holders:

13. For working holiday visa holders who cannot enter within the one-year valid entry time limit due to epidemic conditions, the time limit can be waived or delayed.