The Federal Government announced temporary changes to visa arrangements.
The changes allow workers belonging to the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme to extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for any approved employer.
Working Holiday Makers (WHM) who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
Temporary Work visa holders including WHMs employed in critical sectors, such as horticulture, who have not completed the three or six months of specified work required to apply for a second or third Working Holiday Maker visa, and are unable to leave Australia, may be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa.
This visa will allow WHMs to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, if they wish to do so, until they can return to their home country.
Those already in Australia with the Seasonal Worker Program whose visas are expiring, will be able to extend their stay in Australia by applying for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa.
Holders of other temporary work visas / TSS 482 visa /457 visa currently employed in critical sectors may also be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa.
Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) for COVID-19 key points:
- Valid for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic
- The visa is free
- The COVID-19 pandemic event visa is only available to people who are in Australia and have 28 days or less remaining on their current visa or where their last substantive visa has expired up to 28 days previously.
It allows visa holders to:
- remain in Australia if they have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
- remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors including healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More information can be found on the Federal Department of Home Affairs website.
Growcom is aware that there are mixed messages regarding the requirements for backpackers and seasonal workers to self-quarantine. At this stage, it is only the current state border provisions that apply. This may change and we will let you know as soon as they do.
Once we have more clarification from the government about self-isolation and the questions raised about accommodation, worker safety and the obligations of the employer, we will send out a Workplace Essentials Alert.