COVID-19 Visa Changes on Work Arrangements for Temporary Visa Holders
In less than six months, coronavirus has transformed the whole world. Everything has been impacted. How we live, interact with each other, work, communicate, how we move around and travel. Every aspect of our lives has been affected, and it makes us have to adapt to many changes or a new routine. Immigration is one of the many sectors that is affected by this COVID-19 Pandemic. The Government is required to make decisions as wisely as possible.
Australian Department of Home Affairs has made several changes to temporary visa holders’ arrangements during the coronavirus outbreak to protect public health.
Employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. All overseas workers, international students who work part-time, have the same rights as all other domestic employees.
You may check below for some of the industry sectors that are implementing the COVID-19’s Immigration regulation changes for temporary visa holders.
COVID-19 Changes in Agriculture Industry for Temporary Visa Holders
Due to COVID-19 Home Affairs will implement flexible arrangements to allow essential workers who are working in critical sectors, including Seasonal Worker Programme participants, Pacific Labour Scheme participants, and Working Holiday holder, to extend their stay:
- Seasonal Worker Programme workers with visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event stream.
- Pacific Labour Scheme workers with visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream visa.
- Temporary Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and will be able to move between approved employers.
Also, Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (e.g. agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the 6-month work limitation with one employer. They are also eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event stream.
COVID-19 Changes in Supermarket Industry for Temporary Visa Holders
- On 4 April 2020, due to COVID-19, the Government announced it was ceasing the temporary relaxation of the 40-hour work limit for student visa holders working in supermarkets.
- From 1 May 2020, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force will exercise normal discretion concerning student visa holders employed in supermarkets who exceed the work limitations of their visa.
- The Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force officers will not seek to enforce these conditions for, nor initiate prosecutions for, student visa holders who worked in supermarkets following this temporary measure between 7 March 2020 and 30 April 2020.
COVID-19 Changes in Aged Care Industry for Temporary Visa Holders
- International students who work in aged care can also work more than 40 hours a fortnight, to make sure there is enough staff to look after the elderly who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
- All aged care Approved Providers or Commonwealth-funded aged care service providers that have been issued with a RACS ID, or a NAPS ID have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders. These aged care providers should see the letter provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.
These measures only apply to existing workers in their existing roles. They are temporary measures and will be reviewed by the Government regularly.
COVID-19 Changes in Health Medical Nursing Industry for Temporary Visa Holders
- International Student visa holders already enrolled in nursing programs can undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials.
COVID-19 Changes in Cruise Ship Industry for Temporary Visa Holders
Due to COVID-19 on 20 May 2020, the Minister for Health extended the restrictions under the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Cruise Ships) Determination 2020 for the operation of cruise ships in Australia. This includes:
- Extending to 17 September 2020, the current measures restricting the entry of cruise ships into Australian territory and entry at Australian ports.
- Continuing the application of these restrictions to cruise ships capable of carrying 100 or more passengers.
The restrictions are inclusive of direct arrivals and Round Trip Cruises (RTC).
COVID-19 Changes in Airline Industry for Temporary Visa Holders
From 2100 AEDT 20 March 2020, airline staff should ensure that only exempt travellers board a flight to Australia. Where possible, the Australian Advanced.
Passenger Processing system will be used to deny any uplift for all other travellers. From 24 June 2020, all aircrew operating international flights between Australia and New Zealand, are exempt from home quarantine requirements, provided the evidence that they have only been within Australia and New Zealand for the past 14 days. Airlines and aircrew should monitor individual state and territory government health sites for details and updates on other additional measures.
Protecting vulnerable workers in operations and supply chains during the pandemic
Changes to business operations and structures due to COVID-19 may significantly impact some workers, in Australia and overseas, and increase their vulnerability to modern slavery and other forms of exploitation. The Government is encouraging employers and industry to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect vulnerable workers.
Still not sure how this can affect you? Speak to us, we are here to help!
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