Wednesday, 02 March 2022
Media release

Enhancing temporary visa settings to support Australia’s economic recovery

The Morrison Government is continuing to make a range of visa enhancements in support of Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

Skilled-Recognised Graduate (Subclass 476) visa holders

Eligible Skilled-Recognised Graduate (Subclass 476) visa holders who lost time in Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions will have their visas extended for 24 months. This visa allows recent engineering graduates to live, work or study in Australia. This will provide eligible visa holders with the usual length of the visa, plus an additional six months.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said this would allow current and former Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa holders to enter, or remain in, Australia until April 2024.

“This measure recognises the importance of qualified engineers to Australia’s economy, particularly as we continue to manage the COVID-19 recovery,” Minister Hawke said.

“Australia’s international border opened to fully vaccinated Student, Temporary Graduate and Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa holders from 15 December 2021,” he said.

There are several thousand Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa holders who lost time in Australia due to travel restrictions. The extension is expected to take effect in April 2022, subject to amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994, and eligible visa holders will be notified directly by the Department of Home Affairs of the extension of their visa and may arrive in Australia after this occurs. It will also apply to people whose visas have already expired, providing they were unable to use the full length of their original visa due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions.

Further details will be available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Training (Subclass 407) visa holders

The Morrison Government has supported Australian businesses during the pandemic by allowing Student visa holders to work additional hours in critical sectors.

Due to current workforce shortages, the Government is temporarily extending this arrangement by removing the limit on secondary Training (subclass 407) visa holders’ working hours across all sectors of the economy.

This measure takes effect immediately for existing and new secondary Training visa holders, and will be reviewed in April 2022.

Access to COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visas

Temporary visa holders with work rights will be able to access the COVID-19 Pandemic Event (Subclass 408) visa incurring no Visa Application Charge for a period of 6 or 12 months if they work in any sector of the Australian economy.

Presently, the COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa is available with no Visa Application Charge for 12 months for any person working in, or with an offer to work in agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, child care, and tourism and hospitality.

The new arrangements will only be available for Pandemic Event visa applications made on or after 21 February 2022 by:

  • Temporary visa holders who were in Australia prior to 21 February 2022; as well as
  • Temporary visa holders who arrive in Australia after 21 February 2022 and have work rights or a job offer from a Commonwealth funded aged care service at time of application.

Temporary visa holders working in, or intending to work in, any sector of the Australian economy including Commonwealth funded aged care will be able to apply for the Pandemic Event visa up to 90 days before their existing visa expires and then remain in Australia for up to 12 additional months if working or intending to work in a key sector (including agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, child care, and tourism and hospitality) or 6 months if working or intending to work in  any other sector.

Removing sector limitation for eligibility for the COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa will provide further support to Australian businesses and a means to retain temporary migrants who are working, or are able to work in a range of sectors across the economy. These settings are subject to ongoing review.

“With unemployment at record lows, the Government is providing targeted incentives for skilled workers to remain in Australia,” Minister Hawke said.

“There are more jobs now available in Australia than before the COVID-19 pandemic, and businesses across all sectors of our economy are crying out for skilled workers to fill vital roles,” he said.

“Government has listened carefully to the needs of our industries and we are introducing these changes to support Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery”.

“The Government is committed to supporting Australian jobs, supporting Australian industries and continually adjusting our migration settings to ensure that support hits the mark,” Minister Hawke said.