With the outbreak of COVID-19, many people may experience sudden financial hardship and need financial support to continue their stay in Australia. Below we will summarise the current regime in place to help Australian visa holders.
Funds are for people on temporary visas who have no way to support themselves and who have urgent needs. This includes food, medicine and crisis accommodation costs.
Who is eligible? Visa holders may be eligible for Red Cross Safety Net support if they:
- are in Australia on a temporary visa
- are in urgent financial hardship
- cannot access Centrelink, Medicare or similar services
- have no income, savings or other financial support (including from family overseas).
Eligible visa holders are requested to contact the Red Cross by email in the first instance so that can be advised when the funds and arrangements are in place.
Further visa information is available on the Red Cross website.
Update: Tasmania Support for Temporary Visa Holders
Student and Training Visas
However, students who are currently employed at the major supermarkets (Coles and Woolworths) will be able to extend their working hours to help meet the demand for essential items. Similarly, student working in aged care will be able to work more hours.
If you are facing financial hardship due to loss of employment or reduction in working hours, we recommend that you contact your embassy, university and your family in your home country.
Students who have been here longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation.
Update (24 April 2020): COVID-19 and Support for International Students in Australia
TSS 482 and 457 visas
Australian Government does not currently have in place a financial support system for Temporary Skills Shortage (SC482) , Temporary Work (SC457) or holders. The same applies for the following (not eligible for Medicare and government support):
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.
There is currently no support plan put in place by the Australian Government to provide visitors with financial support. Visitors include:
Holder of a visitor visa in Australia cannot work, so if you are facing financial hardship, we recommend that you contact your embassy or consulate to arrange for support. You may also contact service providers such as the International Organization for Migration or Homeward Return Program. For more information see here.
Holders (not for pending applications and on bridging visas) of a Subclass 820 or Subclass 309 Partner Visa may be eligible to apply for Centrelink for a limited range of benefits including Family Tax Benefit, Dad and Partner Pay, Parental Leave Pay, and Low Income Health Care Card. In relation to permanent holders usually you would have to wait 2 or 4 years after arriving in Australia as an Australian resident. However, due to COVID-19, the Government has removed the waiting period for Jobseeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Austudy, Parenting Payment Single and Partnered, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit. This is of increased significance as eligibility for the $550 Coronavirus Supplement is automatic for the recipients of several of these benefits. Partner visa holders may also be eligible for Medicare, this includes if you’ve applied for a combined spouse visa 309/100 or 820/801.
Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa are not eligible for Medicare or other government supports mentioned above.
Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) 188 visa holders are also not eligible for the government support packages introduced due to COVID-19 outbreak.
If you currently hold a Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) or Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa, you may meet the definition of Australian resident for social security purpose.
The amendment to the Social Security Act 1991 allows holder of provisional skilled regional visa to access social security benefits listed in the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, Farm Household Support Act 2014 and the New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999. You are also eligible for Medicare.
Both Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) and Skilled-Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) are not eligible for the support packages.
You can find out more here.
Working Holiday Visas
Holder of a Working Holiday visas are currently not eligible for financial support by the Australian Government.
Working holiday makers supporting critical sectors
There are about 118,000 people in Australia on a Working Holiday visa (or backpacker visa) – a visa which provides conditional work rights.
To support the critical sectors of heath, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare, some limited flexibility will be provided.
In particular, working holiday makers who are working in these critical sectors 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.
In general, working holiday makers that do not have the confidence to sustain themselves over the next six months should make arrangements to leave the country.
Some Parent visa holders may be eligible for the recently announced support packages and Medicare.
Refugee and Humanitarian Visas
You may be able to apply for financial support if you are a holder of the following visas:
- subclass 060 – Bridging visa F
- subclass 070 – Bridging (Removal Pending)
- subclass 449 – Humanitarian Stay
- subclass 785 – Temporary Protection
- subclass 786 – Temporary (Humanitarian Concern)
- subclass 790 – Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV)
The Department of Home Affairs has advised that to stay longer in Australia, you must apply for a new visa.
The best way forward is to check your visa expiry date and conditions on your visa grant letter or VEVO.
If you visa conditions prevent you from staying further (conditions such as 8503, 8534,8535), you may request to waive the condition if your visa will expire in less than 4 weeks.
|Visa Type||Job Keeper||Job Seeker||Early Access to Superannuation
|Other (e.g. Family Tax Benefit Parental Leave, Medicare)|
|Australian Citizen and Permanent Resident||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|New Zealand Citizen (SC 444 holders) at 1 March 2020||Y||N||Y||N|
|New Zealand Citizen (Non-protected SCV holders) and have lived in Australia continuously for 10 years||Y||Y||Y||N|
|Student Visa (SC 500) and Training Visa (SC 407)||N||N||Y||N|
|Temporary Graduate Visa (SC 485)||N||N||Y||N|
|Work Visa (SC 482 & SC 457)||N||N||Y||N|
|Visitor Visa (SC 600, SC 601 & SC 651)||N||N||N||N|
|Partner Visa (SC 820 & SC 309)||N||N||Y||Limited|
|Working Holiday Visa (SC 417 & SC 462)||N||N||Y||N|
|Business Visa (SC 188)||N||N||Y||N|
|Skilled Visa (SC 491 & SC 494)||N||N||Y||Limited|
|Refugee and Humanitarian Visa||N||N||Y||Limited|
Y = Yes
N = No
VisaEnvoy’s Coronavirus action plan
The VisaEnvoy team have plans in place to ensure ongoing operation for our current and prospective clients. We are able to work entirely remotely in the event that self-isolation is required or the offices are closed, including accessing client files, emails and phones, lodging applications, and accessing documents.
For COVID-19 visa related travel questions / 408 visa eligibility you can book a time here:
https://visaenvoy.as.me/covid19 (25 min)
If you would like a comprehensive consultation which includes assessing you for other temporary and permanent visa options (Skilled visas, Employer Sponsored, Partner, etc.) as well, we recommend our standard 45 minute to 1 hour consultation which can be scheduled here:
https://visaenvoy.as.me/skype (45 min)