Following the announcement of its 2020-2021 Federal Budget, the Australian government has implement some measures concerning the Working Holiday Visa Makers. The most important ones concern the implementation of visa refunds or waivers for those who could not enter Australia due to the inward Travel Ban and those who had to leave Australia because of the pandemic. Here are the measures announced so far.
Who can request a 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.
Working holiday Visa Holders (417 & 462)
For those who had to leave the country earlier
Travellers on working holiday visas who had to leave Australia early due to the pandemic will be eligible for a waiver, or a refund depending on their situation. A waiver means that you will be able to apply for the same visa for free when you decide to return to Australia.
On the government website, it is noted that there is no maximum time that a former WHM visa holder must have spent in Australia before departure to be able to apply for a waiver or refund. Which seems to mean that even if you spent 6 or 8 months in Australia, if you had to leave the country because of the pandemic, you will be able to apply for a new visa free of charge. However this does not apply for departures that occurred prior the beginning of the pandemic. You must have left the country because of Covid 19.
Therefore if you had to leave Australia early due to COVID-19 you will be eligible for a waiver, when you decide to return to Australia. If you are not eligible to lodge a further application because you have passed the age limit for a WHM visa, you will be able to receive a refund instead.
It is important to note that the age limit has not been extended. So those who are unable to return because they have passed the age limit to apply for a WHV, they will be able to get a refund. For info you must be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) to apply except for Canadian, French and Irish citizens up to 35 (inclusive).
Since 26 February 2021, you can apply for a refund on the government website.
For those who were not able to enter the country
WHV makers who were not able to enter Australia because of the closed borders will be able to lodge a new application free of charge. They will be able to have a new visa for free if they still under the age limit or will get a refund if they have passed it.
Refunds and waivers are available for current WHV holders who are not able to travel to Australia because of travel restrictions.
For those who have passed the relevant age limit, you won’t be able to apply for a new visa. However, you will be able to get a refund.
Process for refunds and waivers
Process for refunds
Conditions to request a refund
You must meet ALL the following requirements:
- you were granted a WHM visa before 20 March 2020
- while Australia’s international travel restrictions were in place, you:
- could not enter Australia on that visa, or
- entered Australia on that visa but departed before your visa ceased
- your visa ceased between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 while you were outside Australia
- you have not lodged an application for a replacement WHM visa
- you no longer meet the age requirement for another WHM visa
Note: You must be OUT of Australia to request a refund and your visa must be expired.
Process to get a refund
If you cannot request a new WHM visa because you no longer meet the age requirement, you can request a refund using the Covid-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form. The refund must be requested by 31 December 2022.
With the request, you must attach a completed and signed Form 1424 and supporting documents. The requested documents are mainly:
- proof of your payment for your original application (bank statement)
- your ‘IMMI Acknowledgement of Application Received’
- any other documents that justify your application
For the VAC Waivers
If you were granted a Working Holiday Maker visa and it expired or will expire between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 while you are outside Australia, you may be able to receive a VAC waiver for a future application.
No process have been communicated to deal with Waivers at the moment but will be available in mid-2021.
New visa or refund must be applied for before end of 2022.
Visitors and students
Tourists that could not enter the country and whose visa expired, are eligible for a waiver. So those whose visas (subclass 600) expired or will expire between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021, can apply for a Visitor (subclass 600) visa in the Tourist, Business Visitor, Sponsored Family or Approved Destination Status streams, without paying a VAC. Applications for a future Visitor visa with a VAC waiver must be lodged by 31 December 2022.
- For students needing a further Student visa to complete their studies or to remain in Australia, they won’t have to pay for their next Student Visa.
Apply for a 408 Visa
The 408 visa is still available for all WHVs, and temporary visas holders currently in Australia. This visa has no age restriction and allows you to work legally in Australia but only in critical sectors. The visa duration will depend on your situation and can be from 3 to 12 months. The 408 visa application must be made within 28 days before your current visa expires. The application is free.
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.