COVID Concessions for temporary visa holders and applicants

17th February 2021

COVID Concessions for temporary visa holders and applicants

The Australian Government has announced new concessions for certain visa holders and applicants impacted by COVID-19 to ensure they are not disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control, such as border closures, passenger caps, and business restrictions, and can continue with their visa applications and immigration pathways.

The concessions are available to the following visa subclasses:

Partners, parents and child visas

Some categories of visas require applicants to be outside of Australia at the time the visa is granted. Under the temporary concessions, from 27 February 2021, the following visas will be able to be granted while the applicant is in Australia:

  • Partner (subclass 309) visa
  • Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa
  • Child (subclass 101) visa
  • Adoption (subclass 102) visa
  • Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa

On 24 March 2021, the same concession will commence for eligible parent visa applicants:

  • Contributory Parent (Temporary) (subclass 173) visa
  • Contributory Parent (subclass 143) visa
  • Parent (subclass 103) visa

With this concession, applicants will no longer have to fly out of the country to have their visas granted before returning to Australia. The current processing timeframes for Parent visa applications will not be impacted by these amendments.

Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa

International students who are able to apply for a 485 visa are now allowed to lodge and be granted a subclass 482 visa under the Graduate Work and Post Study Work streams if they are outside Australia. Prior to the concessions, applicants were required to be in Australia to apply and be granted the visa.

The concession also gives those students the opportunity to obtain a visa to return to Australia when travel restrictions are lifted and subsequent entrants (dependents) may also be onshore or offshore for lodgment and grant.

However, the concession does not allow applications for a Second Post Study Work stream to be lodged while outside Australia. Visa applicants for a second Subclass 485 visa or a member of the family unit must lodge their visa application in Australia.

Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) pathway (Subclass 790)

The Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) pathway permits holders to apply for certain permanent visas in Australia if they satisfy the SHEV pathway requirements. The applicant will satisfy SHEV pathway requirements if, for a total of 3 years and 6 months (42 months), they have:

  • worked in a SHEV regional area without receiving certain social security benefits (Special Benefit payments); and/or
  • studied full-time in a SHEV regional area; or
  • are a member of the same family unit of a person holding a SHEV who meets the above requirements.

Under the concessions, SHEV holders will now be able to meet their pathway requirements, regardless of whether they have:

  • accessed Special Benefit payments while working or studying in a SHEV regional area; or
  • are unemployed; or
  • worked outside a SHEV regional area in an essential service.

Business Innovation visa (subclass 888)

Usually, applicants for Subclass 888 visas must have been in Australia for a least one year in the two years immediately before they apply for permanent residency.

With the new concession, the time spent overseas may be counted as being time spent in Australia if the applicant held one of the following visas:

  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) Business Innovation stream
  • Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) Business Innovation Extension stream

The first visa in the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) in the Business Innovation stream must have been granted on or before 30 June 2019.

Skilled Regional visa (subclass 887)

People who have lived and worked in specified areas of regional Australia and are eligible to apply for the permanent visa 887, now have more flexibility in meeting visa eligibility requirements with the COVID concessions and are allowed to apply even if they are outside Australia.

Applicants outside of Australia at time of lodgment

Under the concession, applicants have access to the following shorter employment and residency requirements:

  • 9 months full-time work in a specified regional area: usually applicants are required to meet 12 months of full-time work (3 months less with the concession)
  • 18 months residence in a specified regional area: usually applicants must prove 2 years residence (6 months less with the concession)

Applicants in Australia at time of lodgment

  • 9 months full-time work in a specified regional area: usually applicants are required to meet 12 months of full-time work (3 months less with the concession)
  • Onshore applicants will still be required to meet the 2 years of residence in a specified regional area.

In the event that you do not hear from the Department in the coming months please contact us to ensure you are across any changes to your situation. Also, if you need support to navigate these new regulations or you have any concerns about the COVID-19 concessions, please get in touch with our team and we’ll find the best immigration pathway for you and your family.

For any inquiries

Contact one of our registered migration agents today