The Australian government has now introduced a new visa option for people who are unable to leave Australia.
The new visa option – the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa, is available under subclass 408.
The purpose of the new visa option is to provide a pathway for certain former and current holders of temporary visas to lawfully remain in Australia and to also address the workforce shortages in critical areas like agriculture, aged care and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Home Affairs has stated ‘the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa” is only available to people who are onshore and have 28 days or less remaining on their current visa or where their last substantive visa has expired up to 28 days previously; and are unable to apply for the same temporary visa they hold or held or any other subclass of temporary visa other than the Subclass 408 visa.
The visa is also available to working holidaymakers who are working in critical sectors and who are not eligible for a further working holiday visa.
Other temporary visa holders who are in Australia, and whose visa is about to cease but are unable to return home or apply for another visa, are able to apply for the COVID-19 visa as a last resort to ensure they remain lawful.
There is no government fee for this visa.