Home News in Australia COVID-19 Visa (subclass 408) and measures for WHV makers in Australia

COVID-19 Visa (subclass 408) and measures for WHV makers in Australia

COVID-19 Visa (subclass 408) and measures for WHV makers in Australia

The current COVID-19 situation in Australia also affects most backpackers. Some have decided to return to their country and others have chosen to stay in down under. The government has announced measures for all young people on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. Among them is the possibility of obtaining a new visa when working in certain sectors in Australia during the COVID-19 crisis.

Alan Tudge, the minister responsible for immigration and multicultural affairs, said the Australian government recognises that the 118,000 young people on a WHV are an important part of the Australian economy and society. Therefore, several measures have been implemented to enable temporary visa holders to overcome the crisis. We give you all the useful information in this article.

The Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408)

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, workers in critical sectors are able to apply for a 408 visa in Australia to continue working in these sectors if their current visa is about to expire.

With a 408 Visa, you can remain in Australia to work in the following critical sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • agriculture
  • food processing
  • health care
  • aged care
  • disability care
  • child care or
  • tourism and hospitality (since 15/5/2021)

This visa (Australian Government endorsed events (COVID-19 Pandemic event) will allow you to remain legally in Australia and work until the situation has calmed down and you can return to your country of usual residence. If you are working in a critical sector you may get up to 12 months visa.

If you do not work in a field that allows you to be eligible for the 408 visa, you can still apply for a 408 visa. If you are not working in a critical sector you may get up to 3 months visa.

If you currently hold a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa that is about to expire you may be eligible for another COVID visa if:

  • you wish to remain in Australia to continue working in a critical sector, or
  • you are unable to depart Australia before the expiry of your visa due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The request must be made 28 days before your current visa expires.

Eligibility Criteria

This visa is intended for temporary residents currently in Australia whether you work in critical sectors or not. The common conditions are:

  • You must be in Australia
  • Have a valid visa or your last substantive visa expired less than 28 days ago
  • Have subscribed to a health insurance
  • Have a minimum of funds to support yourself
  • Not have had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused
  • Have paid back debt to the Australian Government

Apply for the visa

If you are eligible, you can apply for a Temporary Activity Visa (Australian Government endorsed events (COVID-19 Pandemic event)). The visa application is free. You must select ‘yes’ to the visa application charge concession question in the application and select the ‘Nil VAC’ option when applying.

This visa is only available for people whose visa will expire within 28 days. So if you have 3 months left on your Working Holiday Visa, you will have to wait before applying.

Applicants working in a critical sector must:

  • have evidence from an employer of your employment or an offer of employment
  • hold a substantive visa that expires in 90 days or less, or your last substantive visa expired 28 days or less ago

Applicants whose departure is delayed by travel restrictions must:

  • tell the immigration why the restrictions prevent your departure
  • hold a substantive visa that expires in 28 days or less, or your last substantive visa expired less than 28 days ago
COVID-19 farm work

Relaxed 6-month work limitation rule

Young people working in key sectors will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with the same employer.

These sectors are:

  • health sector
  • aged and disability care
  • agriculture
  • food industry

WHV refund or waiver

Following the release of the Federal Budget for 2020-2021, the government has clarified some points with regards to Refunds and Waivers for WHV makers. The government has decided to offer some solutions for those who could not enter Australia or had to cut short their stay because of the pandemic. Indeed, those measures concern working holiday visa makers, but also tourists, students, temporary skilled workers and temporary skilled workers.

Those who had to leave the country earlier or were not able to enter the country are now able to request a refund or a waiver on the government website.

Refunds and waivers are available for current WHV holders who are not able to travel to Australia because of travel restrictions.

More information and process to follow on : WORKING HOLIDAY AUSTRALIA: VISA WAIVER OR REFUND

Backpackers current situation in Australia

Current situation in Australia

Australia, which has been little affected by the pandemic, has just started its vaccine rollout. States and territories are now reopened among themselves. Which means you can now move from state to state without any problem. To enter certain states, be aware that it is can be necessary to obtain a border Pass or complete a declaration.

The measures in place have worked well and the country has been little affected by the virus. To date, there are less than 1,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 across the country.

Read more here: COVID-19 Work & Travel Info

The economic situation of backpackers on a Working Holiday Visa

Not being a national, young WHV makers cannot benefit from government aid. Thus, holders of temporary visas did not have access to unemployment help schemes or government assistance (such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker). However, some assistance has been put in place to help young people in financial distress during the Covid crisis.

In addition, with the many departures that following the beginning of the pandemic, Australia has had and is still lacking manpower for some sectors. Indeed, employers in fruit picking, packing, or rural jobs are struggling to find labor. Currently, it is therefore easier to find a job in its sectors (considered critical).

Where to find jobs during the COVID-19 crisis in Australia?

All sectors in Australia that will need manpower to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Read more in our dedicated article.

Sources: covid19.homeaffairs.gov.at/staying-australia

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  1. Hey, Im on a working holiday visa. However, im currently on Lombok and not allowed to enter Australia again right now. My visa runs out in october and I really wish to do my farmwork to get my second year. But if im not able to return to Australia in time to do it, will i never be able to work or apply for the second year?

    Best Regards Oskar

    • Hi Oskar,
      At the moment, if you have not done your 88 days you wont be allowed to reenter Australia on a WHV. However, the government may take some measures to ‘help’ WHV makers in your situation. As today nothing has been announced by the government. We will update the article if we have more information. Cheers

  2. I have already completed my 88 days of farm work and looking to extend for my second year. Am i able to apply for the 408 visa now and then once its 12months are over, I apply for 2nd year on the WHV?

  3. Hi. I’m on covid visa 408 till October 2023, I’m wondering it’s possible to get another 408 visa or not, I heard you can actually get 5 times 408 visa no matter it’s pandemic or not, is it true? and since my current 408 expires on october, do I have to wait till September instead of July to apply for another 408 visa? Thanks.

  4. Hello,

    I am traveling as a tourist to visit the country. But I would like to stay and work with the working holidays visa. However, I already had the visa during the Covid-19 and I returned to France. I wanted to resume the working holidays visa but I couldn’t because the application deadline was December 31, 2022. Are there any new measures for Covid-19 cases?

    Thanks in advance !

  5. Hi,

    I was granted 408 covid visa for a year just now, and I was wondering if I am granted for my 2nd year of working holiday visa, will I be able to stay 1+1 years, and be able to start collecting days for my 3rd year of WHV?

  6. Hi,
    I’ve already done my 88 days (my first whv will expired on November) on September I’ve applied for the COVID visa and now I’m here with the COVID visa. Do I have to do again the 88 days to apply for the second whv? Many thanks


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