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. Critical sectors include agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care.
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.
If you entered Australia on a Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa, you can count critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors undertaken on a subclass 408 COVID-19 Pandemic event visa towards eligibility for a 2nd or 3rd WHM visa.
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
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
- 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.