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What can I do if I am on a working holiday or seasonal worker visa in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?

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Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers as long as pastoral care and accommodation needs of workers are met to minimise health risks to visa holders and the community.

Approved employers under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme will need to continue engaging with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on labour market testing to ensure recruitment of Australians first.

Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.

Conditions will be placed upon visa holders to self-isolate for 14 days before taking up employment in a different region, including termination of visas where there is non-compliance.

Employers will need to commit to providing safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements.

At this stage the MIA has no further information on the specifics of any of these announcements, how applicants should be make application or how soon these changes will be available to visa holders.

Seasonal workers are managed through approved labour companies and have been notified separately of these processes.

Media Release – Temporary skilled and student visa holders able to access superannuation

Acting Minister Tudge has today announced that temporary visa holders will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in this financial year to assist in supporting themselves through the coronavirus crisis. The full media release is available here.

Key facts from the statement:

International students

Students who have been here longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation.

Temporary Skilled visa holders

These visa holders will also be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year.

New Zealand citizens – financial assistance clarified

New Zealanders on 444 visas

New Zealanders on SC 444 visas and who arrived before 26 February 2001 are eligible to access Australian welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment.

New Zealanders on SC 444 visas and who arrived after 2001 have access to the JobKeeper payment. Those who have lived in Australia for 10 years or more also have access to JobSeeker payments for six months.

The Government is advising those New Zealanders who are unable to support themselves through these provisions, work or family support should consider returning to New Zealand.

International students – update

Acting Minister Tudge has announced that the Government will undertake further engagement with the international education sector who already provide some financial support for international students facing hardship.

Key facts from his media release this morning:

  • International students working in supermarkets will have their working hours return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight on 1 May as more Australians are being recruited into these roles
  • International students working in aged care and as nurses continue to have their hours extended to support these critical sectors
  • The Government will also be flexible in cases where Coronavirus has prevented international students meeting their visa conditions (such as not being able attend classes)

International students in their first 12 months are expected to support themselves given their visa application commitment that they had sufficient funds to support their stay in Australia.

Working Holiday or Seasonal worker visa – what next?

If you’re unsure on your visa status regarding your working holiday or seasonal worker visa, please contact our team of Immigration Lawyers and Registered Migration Agents.

We have assisted thousands of working holiday visa holders and can provide you with any visa options you may have.

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