Frequently asked questions for subclass 408 (COVID-19 Stream)
Temporary visas holders currently employed or capable of being employed in critical sectors may be eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa. Applicants who are able to depart are banned from applying for this visa subclass, however, if you are unable to leave Australia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the SC 408 is a strong option to preserve your status in Australia and in some cases, extend your stay and acquire work rights limited to critical sectors.
Since the announcement on 4 April 2020 we have been receiving many questions which we have answered here. If you have further questions please book a consultation below.
Q: I currently hold a visitor visa or other visa without work rights can I apply for a the 408 instead of another visitor visa?
A: A criteria for the COVID-19 stream 408 is that ‘the applicant must seek to remain in Australia to undertake work directly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic’. As you will be applying for the COVID-19 visa from a visa without work rights it is absolutely essential that you accompany the application with compelling evidence that you either have a skill set highly relevant to a critical sector or have a critical sector employer actively willing to engage you on visa grant. If you need assistance in preparing your COVID-19 submission please do not hesitate to contact us.
Q: My current Work visa is soon to expire or already expired, should I apply for the 408 visa instead of a Visitor visa?
A: Applying for the 408 visa could be a better option as Visitor visa does not allow you to work. Also, depending on your current visa, you may have to pay the Subsequent Temporary Applicant charge of $700 on top of the Visitor visa application charge of $365 and 1.32% immigration credit card surcharge. A criteria for the COVID-19 stream 408 is that ‘the applicant must seek to remain in Australia to undertake work directly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic’. As you will be applying for the COVID-19 visa from a visa without work rights it is absolutely essential that you accompany the application with evidence that you either have a skill set highly relevant to a critical sector or have a critical sector employer actively willing to engage you on visa grant. If you need assistance in preparing your COVID-19 submission please do not hesitate to book a meeting.
Q: I’m working as a Child Care Worker on a Graduate 485 visa after completing my studies, but due to the current situation I’m unable to return back to my home country. Do I need to apply for a new Student visa?
A: If you are applying for the Student visa just to extend your stay here in Australia, Student visa is not recommended. Since you are currently working in a critical sector for COVID-19, you may be eligible to apply for the 408 visa.
Q: I haven’t completed the 3 months of specified work required to apply for a Second Working Holiday visa and I’m worried that my visa will expire. I’m unable to return to my home country due to travel restriction. I’m currently working at a farm in regional Australia. Can I still apply for the Second Working Holiday visa?
A: Since you have not met the requirement for the Second Working Holiday visa, you are not qualified to apply. However, as you are currently working in one of the critical sectors, you can apply for the 408 visa and continue working.
Q: My Graduate visa expires soon. Can I apply for a new Graduate visa?
A: You can only apply for Graduate visa only once as a main applicant. However, if you are currently working in a critical sector for COVID-19 or have an ongoing skills related to critical work or essential services, you may be eligible to apply for the 408 visa.
Q: What are the critical sectors:
A: Australia has not really defined critical sectors and essential services but for example New Zealand defines essential sectors as:
- Any entity that provides accommodation services for essential workers, isolation/quarantine, and emergency housing
- Retirement villages
- Backpackers accommodation
Building and construction
- Any entity involved in building and construction related to essential services and critical infrastructure, including those in the supply and support chain.
- Any entity involved in any work required to address immediate health or life safety risks, or to prevent serious environmental harm, and relevant essential supply chain elements.
- Any entity with statutory responsibilities or that is involved in building and resource consenting necessary for the above purposes.
Courts, tribunals and the justice system
Protocols setting out the arrangements for each court, including arrangements made for remote appearances and the circumstances in which people may need to appear in person are in operation.
- Any entity or individual determined by the Secretary for Education as required to provide distance or online learning (eg printers, devices, IT).
- Any person employed or contracted as teaching, nursery and childcare staff, including specialist education professionals and others who provide support (eg to disabled children).
- Any person employed by or contracted to an educational facility.
- Any entity supplying educational facilities or educational materials (eg printers).
Fast-moving consumer goods
- Any entity involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people.
- Any entity that operates consumer and business financial services, financial services infrastructure including banking services, a stock exchange, broking services, payment and settlement systems, funds management including KiwiSaver, insurance services, financial advice, and support services such as administrators, supervisors and custodians.
Any person employed or contracted as a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, paramedic, medical laboratory scientists, social workers, aged care and community workers, and caregivers more generally.
- Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities (eg rest homes).
- Emergency dental and optometry care services.
- Any entity providing ambulance services.
- Any entity involved with the deceased/(eg funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries).
- Any entity producing health sector equipment, medicines and PPE.
Local and national government
- Any entity involved in COVID-19 response, enforcement, planning or logistics or that has civil defence/emergency management functions (including any entity that supplies services for these purposes).
- Key public services.
Home Affairs and Foreign government
- Maintaining critical operations at foreign missions.
Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing
- Any entity involved in the packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products, whether for domestic consumption or export.
- Any entity involved in relevant support services, such as food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions.
- Any entity providing veterinary services.
Any entity whose closure would jeopardise the maintenance of animal health or welfare standards (including the short-term survival of a species).
Public safety and national security
- The Department of Corrections, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Government Communications Security Bureau, and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
- Courts of New Zealand.
- Any person employed or contracted in a public safety or national security role.
- Any entity (including research organisations) involved in COVID-19 response.
- Any entity (including research organisations) involved in hazard monitoring and resilience.
- Any entity (including research organisations) involved in diagnostics for essential services like biosecurity or public health.
- Laboratories and Physical Containment level 3 (PC3) facilities that could provide essential services and products that could be used to respond to COVID-19.
- Other significant research facilities including animal facilities, clinical trials and infrastructure that requires constant attention (eg samples, collections and storage facilities) that are important to New Zealand.
- Those entities, including non-government organisations, that provide welfare and social services to meet immediate needs, in the following categories:
- Where the service is the only way for people to access food and other goods they need to live day-to-day.
- A social service that provides and supports a place for someone to live.
- A social service that supports disabled people to maintain critical well-being.
- Crisis support for people who are unsafe.
Transport and logistics
- Any small passenger service vehicle driver (who holds the relevant licence) such as ride-share or taxi drivers.
- Any entity providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes (eg vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services).
- Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Customs, New Zealand Transport Agency, Civil Aviation Authority (including Aviation Security Service), Maritime New Zealand (including the Rescue Coordination Centre), Airways NZ, MetService, KiwiRail (including Interislander), and any entity which is contracted by these entities.
- Any entity that provides, or is contracted to an entity that provides, logistics services, including New Zealand Post and courier services.
- Any entity providing, or that is contracted by an entity that provides, transport services to the Ministry of Health, a District Health Board, a Medical Officer of Health, or a Controller (as defined in section 4 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002).
- Any entity which provides services related to the maintenance and ongoing operation of critical infrastructure (eg roads, rail, ports, airports).
- Any entity which operates or is contracted by an entity listed in Schedule 1 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002, an aerodrome, a passenger and/or freight aviation service, a passenger and/or freight shipping service, a road freight service, a rail freight service, a vehicle recovery service; or a public transport service (under contract with a Regional Council).
- The delivery of solid fuels (including firewood, pellets and coal) for immediate needs (eg home heating) or fulfilling existing orders is an essential service.
Utilities and communications, including supply chains
- Any entity involved in the production, supply, sale distribution or disposal of electricity, gas, water, wastewater (eg sanitation), waste (eg rubbish collection and recycling), liquid and solid fuel, telecommunication services, and any entity that is contracted by these entities.
- The delivery of solid fuels (including firewood, pellets and coal) for immediate needs (eg home heating) or fulfilling existing orders, is an essential service.
- Disposal of waste, including recycling, is an essential service and may continue to operate during Alert level 4. Individual operators have responsibilities to appropriately meet the health, safety, and security requirements of their staff and customers, and should not operate if they feel they cannot do so.
- News (including news production) and broadcast media is considered essential. Daily delivery of newspapers is considered essential. Non-daily newspapers for communities that are hard to reach due to physical location and with limited access to digital connectivity, or for non-English language material audiences are considered essential. Non-broadcast news organisations are encouraged to deliver services online wherever possible. Magazines do not provide critical up-to date news information. The physical production, delivery and retail distribution of magazines is not considered an essential service. Magazines are encouraged to deliver services online wherever possible.
- Security and cleaning of GLAM institutions: All galleries, libraries, archives and museums will remain closed to the public. Essential security and maintenance is permitted.
- Security is considered an essential service, even if security services are being provided in relation to a premise for a non-essential service.
- Internet service providers.
- Any entity that provides maintenance and repair services for utilities and communications, including supply chains.
- Any entity supplying services to essential workplaces that are required for the safe operation of that workplace (eg cleaning, security services).
- Commercial cleaners that clean common areas of apartment buildings may also continue to operate, where there is high-traffic (eg lifts, stairwells).