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Stuck in Australia during COVID-19? Extend your stay with this new visa option

Australian visa
The Department of Human Affairs has released a temporary Australian visa for those unable to leave because of COVID-19. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Back in April, the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs  Alan Tudge, announced a series of temporary Australian visa extension and options in response to COVID-19.

Among them is a special temporary visa for those who cannot leave Australia before their visa expires. This is owed to the numerous travel bans in effect all over the world, which complicates travel for those outside their home country — international students included.

If you are one of those with an expiring Australian visa, the COVID-19 Pandemic Temporary Activity Visa could be your solution.

Australian visa

Passengers prepare to check-in at the Virgin Australia counter at Brisbane domestic airport on April 21, 2020. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

How does this Australian visa extension work?

The Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) released the COVID-19 Pandemic Temporary Activity Visa as a stream of the subclass 408 visa. It caters to those stuck in Australia because of COVID-19, as well as those working in a critical sector.

Among the critical sectors are agriculture and food processing; disability and aged care; childcare; and healthcare. This may include international student nurses and medical students who stayed back in Australia to serve on pandemic frontlines.

Besides essential workers, holidaymakers working in critical sectors who cannot extend their holiday visas may qualify for this pandemic visa.

According to SBS, there are currently 2.17 million temporary visa holders in the country. Of this number, 565,000 hold student visas.

If your temporary visa is currently expiring and you’re running out of options, you can apply for this extension for free online.

How long can I stay?

This temporary visa allows non-citizens to stay in Australia for up to 12 months. Though it is a multiple-entry visa, bear in mind that Australian travel restrictions are still in place.

Australian visa

Essential workers from other countries could apply for this special pandemic visa as a last resort. Source: William West/AFP

Who is eligible for this Australian visa?

To qualify for the COVID-19 Pandemic Temporary Activity Visa, you must:

  • Already be in Australia
  • Either unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, or required to stay in Australia to assist in critical sectors
  • Have 28 days or less remaining on current visa, or had your visa expire within the last 28 days
  • Have no other visa options available
  • Meet all the Australian visa requirements as stated here

Check your eligibility with this official checklist. If you’re still unsure, check the frequently-asked questions or reach out to DOHA online.

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