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2020 Wrapped: Summary of Australian Visa Changes

2020 Wrapped: Summary of Australian Visa Changes

2020 Wrapped: Summary of Australian Visa Changes

Australian visa changes were introduced throughout 2020 as Australia has confirmed its first COVID-19 case of a Chinese-nation boarded from Guangzhou to Melbourne in January 2020. 

Since then, the Prime Minister of Australia recommended that Australians not travel to China, and advised them to leave China as soon as possible if they were in China at the time.

With all the visa changes, some of them will be applicable in 2021.

What are the Australian Visa changes, and how do these changes affect Australian visa holders?

Here is the key points  of Australian visa regulation changes in 2020 for you:

  1. Regulation Changes for Work and Holiday (462) Visa and Working Holiday (417) Visa;
  2. Regulation Changes for Australian International Student;
  3. Visa Changes on Work Arrangements for Temporary Visa Holders;
  4. Regulation Changes for Australian Partner and Family Visa Application;
  5. COVID-19 Concessions for Employer-Sponsored TR and 887 Visa Holders;
  6. Regulation Changes for Business Innovation and Investment Program;
  7. Regulation Changes for Student Visa;
  8. Concessions for Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) Post-Study Stream Visa Regulation;
  9. Australian Travel Restriction Will Continue Until March 2021;


Corona Virus Outbreak Affected Chinese Travellers

At the beginning of 2020, the Australian Government denied entry to any travellers left or transited at mainland China.

The situation affected the China-nation travellers who held an Australian temporary visa as the COVID-19 outbreak deterred them from returning to China.

So, it was difficult for them to either leave or stay in Australia. Many flights were cancelled that were scheduled to fly to China.

To stay legally in Australia, they had applied for a visa extension as the situation was beyond their control.


1. Regulation Changes for Work and Holiday (462) Visa and Working Holiday (417) Visa

Australian visa changes 2020

Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, the Australian Government announced some changes for Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa and Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa following the Morrison Government’s announcement on 5 March 2020. 

The changes have allowed Working Holiday Maker to work with the same employer for twelve months, which previously only allowed them to work for six months. 

The Government also changed the definition of ‘specified work’ for visa 462 to ensure construction work in a disaster declared area is included. Additionally, the paid and volunteer disaster recovery worker would be counted as ‘specified work’ towards eligibility for a second or third year of visa 417 and visa 462.

On 14 November 2020, the Australian Government added the critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors to define ‘specified work’. It aimed to facilitate the Working Holiday Makers who shifted to COVID-19 Pandemic event visa (subclass 408) to fulfil the eligibility for their second or third year WHM visa.

The changes brought a significant impact for WHM visa holders as they have more flexibility to stay legally in Australia while contributing to Australia’s economic recovery.


2. Regulation Changes for Australian International Student

DESE, along with TEQSA and ASQA, announced some education regulation changes, specifically for the Australian International Student. There were three changes made which impacted the International students.

Firstly, educators were allowed to provide flexible learning arrangements, including online learning arrangement regardless of their location. 

The learning arrangements must meet the Australian Standards of Education. Secondly, students were allowed to ask for additional sessions if they have missed the classes with a compelling reason. 

Lastly, for the students who wanted to apply for a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa, were required to stay in Australia for not less than 16 months.

Under the new arrangements, International students would have a chance to continue their study from their home country. They also could ask for additional classes if they could not attend the course due to a compelling situation.


3. Visa Changes on Work Arrangements for Temporary Visa Holders

The changes included in several industries, such as:

a. Regulation Changes in Agriculture Industry

The worker under Seasonal Worker Program, Pacific Labour Scheme, and Working Holiday can extend their stay in Australia by:

Temporary workers under these programs would also be able to work for more than one employer with approval. For critical sector workers under the Working Holiday program would be exempted from the six months working limitation.

b. Regulation Changes in Supermarket Industry

On 4 April 2020, the Australian Government announced to cease the temporary relaxation of the 40-hour work limit for the student visa holders.

Then, starting from 1 May 2020, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force would exercise normal discretion concerning student visa holders who had exceeded the work limitations of their visa.

In addition, student visa holders who worked in a supermarket following the temporary measure between 7 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 would not be impacted by the situation or be prosecuted by the Department and the Australian Border Force.

c. Regulation Changes in Aged Care Industry

Under the new changes, International students who worked in the aged care industry were allowed to work more than 40 hours a fortnight. All aged care Approved Providers, or Commonwealth-funded aged care service providers have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for the student visa holders. These were temporary measures and will still be reviewed by the Government regularly.

d. Regulation Changes in Medical Nursing Industry

The changes allowed International students who enrolled in the nursing program to work in the medical nursing industry to help and support the fight against COVID-19 directed by health officials.

e. Regulation Changes in Ship Industry

On 20 May 2020, the Minister of Health Department extended the restrictions under the Biosecurity Determination 2020 for cruise ships in Australia. It included an extension to 17 September 2020 for cruise ships to enter Australian territory and Australian ports and continuing application of the restriction to cruise ships capable of carrying 100 or more passengers.

f. Regulation Changes in Airline Industry

Starting from 20 March 2020, airline staff should ensure that only exempt travellers board a flight to Australia. The airline crew were exempted from home quarantine requirements from 24 June 2020 with the condition that they have only been within Australia and New Zealand for the past 14 days.