Australia reopened its borders on December 15, 2021 to a number of visas, including Working Holiday and student visas, which make up for the lack of labor in many sectors. But in order to speed up their arrival, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced exciting news for anyone planning to come to Australia soon! Indeed, visa fees will be refunded for international students and WHV makers arriving in the country in the coming weeks! Here is all the information you need to go to Australia without visa fees!
NOTE: Student and Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa holders who travelled to Australia during a specified period were eligible for a refund of the VAC where the request was received by 31 December 2022. No late applications are accepted.
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Eligible visas and conditions
The government hopes to attract newcomers and thus fill a significant labor shortage in several sectors. The Prime Minister anticipates that the return of student and WH visa holders will fill labor shortages particularly in agriculture and hospitality.
It is hoped the measures will be enough to entice the 150,000 students and 23,500 backpackers who currently hold a visa and have not entered the country yet. The expected cost of the fee rebate scheme is $55 million.
Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) & Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462)
Working Holiday visa holders who are currently offshore and come to Australia during the next 12 weeks will be eligible for a refund of their visa fees. The current Visa Application Charge for a WHV is $495. Therefore from 19 January 2022, if you land in Australia before 19 April 2022, your will get your visa rebated on the 417 & 462 WHV.
Second and Third visa holders can also benefit from the refund.
Student Visas (subclass 500,560, or 570 to 575)
Any Student visa holder, currently offshore, who comes to Australia over the next 8 weeks, will be eligible for a refund. The current Visa Application Charge for a student is $630. To benefit from the refund you need to arrive in Australia before 19 March 2022.
Please note that those who have applied for a visa before January 19, 2022 and who will arrive within the periods mentioned above will be reimbursed! It was also indicated that new visa applications will be processed quickly to allow people to come in the coming weeks.
The refund process
The refund request can be made until December 31, 2022. It must be done on the official Visa Refund Portal.
To apply for the refund, you will need :
- Your passport details
- Your entry date in Australia
- Your bank details
- TRN (Transaction Reference Number of your Visa)
- Application ID
Step 1 – Create an account on the Visa Refund Portal
You must create an account on the official Visa Refund Portal. You will need to provide your email address, first name, last name, phone number and create a password.
Step 2 – Refund application
Once you have logged in with your credentials, you can submit the refund request by clicking on “Submit new request” at the bottom of the page.
You will need to provide your WHV visa information and personal details.
Then comes the refund method, you can choose from:
- A refund on the credit card used to pay for the visa application. In this case, you will not have to provide any additional information.
- A refund to a new bank account (Australian or international). You will need to provide the account details.
Once all the information has been provided, click “Submit”. You will then receive an email confirming your refund request. The deadlines for the refund have not been communicated but it may take a few weeks.
Additional measures taken
For student visa holders, the Government is temporarily removing the limit on working hours across all sectors of the economy. All students can work more than 40 hours per fortnight. This measure is for all ongoing students. It also applies to new student arrivals who start a job prior to their course commencement, and will be reviewed in April 2022.
For Working Holiday visa makers, there will be no limit on the length of time you can work for an employer. Therefore you can work for the same employer as long as you want to. This measure takes effect immediately and until the end of 2022.
These measures are temporary and aimed to provide assistance to businesses currently facing critical workforce shortages.
Current Worker shortages
At the start of the pandemic, Australia closed its international borders. The country partially reopened on December 15, 2021 allowing student, WHV and skilled visa holders to enter the country. During these long months of isolation, the country suffered greatly from a lack of labor, mainly in agriculture and hospitality.
With the arrival of the Omicron variant, workers shortages have been even worse. Indeed, thousands of employees, many of whom work in critical supply chains, have been forced to isolate themselves, either because they got eh virus or have been a close contact. The country is therefore sorely lacking in employees in many sectors and is seeking to fill this gap with foreign workers.
Mr Morrison said a number of other previously announced changes should provide further relief. This includes isolation requirements for contact cases in certain sectors and the number of hours students can work per week.
Borders to reopen to all visitors
It has been confirmed by the Prime Minister S. Morrison on 7 February 2022. Borders will reopen to all visa holders including tourists from 21 February 2022. To enter Australia all travellers must be fully vaccinated (2 doses as at February 2022).
The Chamber of Commerce hopes the government will also offer refunds for tourist visas in the future. “Offering free tourist visas will enhance Australia’s competitiveness as a tourist destination”. said the spokesperson.
Conditions to enter Australia
To travel into Australia you must :
- Show evidence that you have been vaccinated with a vaccine approved or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
- Have a valid visa
- Provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 3 days of your flight’s scheduled departure to your airline when you check-in for a flight to travel into Australia or a RAT within 24 hours of your flight’s scheduled departure
- Provide proof of your vaccination.
You must also complete an Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) at least 72 hours before departure.
The information in the ATD helps determine your quarantine arrangements (if required). It also allows the relevant health departments to contact you if someone you travelled with tests positive for COVID-19.