COVID-19 pandemic (AGEE stream)
The Australian Government endorsed event stream has been adapted to assist temporary visa holders stuck in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is no application charge for the COVID-19 pandemic stream.
The requirements to obtain a 408 visa under the COVID-19 pandemic stream are:
- You either:
- Hold a temporary visa which is expiring in 28 days or less
- Do not hold any visa and your temporary visa expired 28 days ago or less
- You are in Australia and are unable to leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- You are not able to apply for any other Australian visa
If you are eligible to, it is preferable to apply for another visa of the same kind you currently hold.
Duration of the COVID-19 pandemic visa
The duration of the visa depends on your circumstances. The different possible periods are:
- Up to 12 months if you work in a “critical sector”
- Up to 12 months if you have been in Australia under the Seasonal Worker Program or the Pacific Labour Scheme, working in agriculture or another “critical sector”
- Up to 6 months for all others (the length will depend on how soon you might be able to return home)
Importantly, this visa is only an option if you have no other visa options.
What is a critical sector?
Critical sector is a broad term referring to a number of industries which are in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The critical sectors include:
- Food processing
- Health care
- Aged care
- Disability care
It is expected that the definition of this will continue to change as priorities develop.
You will need to provide a letter from your employer to confirm that you are working in a critical sector.
Issues applying for the Visa 408 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic visa
Those who do not hold a substantive visa and have had a recent refusal or cancellation (that is, those affected by section 48 of the Migration Act) will not be able to apply for this visa.
If your current visa is affected by a no further stay condition 8503, 8534 or 8535, you will need to request a waiver of this in order to apply for the 408 COVID-19 pandemic stream.
Seasonal Worker Program visa holders will have this automatically waived for the 408 COVID-19 pandemic stream.
If you are eligible for the 408 visa:
- You must satisfy the genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement
- You might be asked to provide evidence that you can financially support yourself and your accompanying family members while in Australia
- You must meet certain health requirements
- You will be responsible for all health requirements as you will not be covered by Australia's national health scheme
- You must meet certain character requirements
- You must have no outstanding debts to the Australian Government or have arranged to repay any outstanding debts to the Australian Government before this visa can be granted
What is the application process?
Visa applications must be made online.
Applicants and agents can access online services by creating an account in ImmiAccount. Once you have gathered documents that support your application, create an account and apply using our online application system ImmiAccount.
After you have applied for your visa you might be required to do the following:
- attend an interview
- provide additional information
- provide biometric information
- provide police certificates
Your application could take longer if you need character or health checks (including x-rays), if you need to provide more information, or if your application is incomplete. If you do not provide the documents requested, your visa application could be refused.
Note: If you plan to get a new passport, you should do so before applying for your visa.
I currently hold a visitor visa, should I apply for another visitor visa or a 408 visa?
If you are currently holding any of the visitor visas including ETA subclass 601 visa, eVisitor Subclass 651 visa or Visitor subclass 600 visa and are looking to apply for another visa to extend your stay in Australia and get work rights, the 408 visa might be an option.
The basic difference between a visitor visa and a 408 visa is that a visitor visa does not provide work rights whereas the 408 visa does provide work rights. Therefore, if you are on a visitor visa and want to apply for a 408 visa, you need to show that you hold a skill set that is highly relevant to one of the critical sectors and/or have an employer who is willing to provide you work in a critical sector.
If you are unable to provide evidence for either of the above, you may want to opt for a visitor visa instead.
I am eligible for a visitor visa and a 408 visa, which visa is better option for me?
It depends on your situation which visa works for you but in general 408 visa can be a better option out of the two mainly because it provides work rights unlike a visitor visa. You will need to provide evidence that you will remain in Australia to work in one of the critical sectors.
Also, keep in mind that there is no application fee for a 408 (COVID-19) stream visa application. For a visitor visa you have to pay an application fee plus you may have to pay a subsequent temporary application charge of AUD 700. This makes a visitor visa much more costly than a 408 visa.
I am a backpacker working with a farmer, can I apply for 408 visa?
If you are currently on a Work and Holiday visa Subclass 462 visa or Working Holiday Visa Subclass 417 visa and are working with a farmer, you may apply for a 408 visa depending on your situation.
Initial Working Holiday visas are usually granted for 12 months. Completing 3 months of ‘specified work’ on the initial visa will you access to a second working holiday visa. Further, if you complete 6 months of ‘specified work’ during the second working holiday visa period, you can apply for a third working holiday visa.
Working Holiday Visa can either be Subclass 462 or Subclass 417 depending on the nationality of the applicant.
The following industries and areas are approved as ‘specified work’:
- Cultivation of plants and animals in regional Australia
- fishing in regional Australia
- pearling in regional Australia
- tree farming and felling in regional Australia
- mining in regional Australia
- construction in regional Australia
- bushfire recovery work in declared bushfire affected areas only, after 31 July 2019
If you fulfil the requirements of specified work, it is preferable that you apply for a second or third working holiday visa. If you have not done enough work or have not worked in an area or industry specified under the category of ‘specified work’, you might not be eligible for a further working holiday visa. In this case, if you are currently working with a farmer, you might be eligible to apply for 408 visa. Farming/agriculture is considered as a critical sector and if the farmer is willing to continue to provide you work, you may apply for 408 visa.
I am currently on Graduate 485 visa, can I apply for 408 visa?
After finishing their studies many students may apply for a Graduate 485 visa. If your 485 visa is expiring soon and you are currently working in a critical sector, you may be eligible for 408 visa.
I am not working in a critical sector, am I eligible for the 408 visa?
The 408 visa will allow you to lawfully remain in Australia if you have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to the Coronavirus travel restrictions. If you have no other visa options but you do not work in a critical sector, you may be eligible for the 408 visa until you are able to depart Australia again. However you may not be granted work rights.
I am applying for 408 visa as a last resort, will I get work rights?
If your current visa is expiring soon or it has already expired in the last 28 days, and you do not have any other visa options but are unable to leave Australia due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for the 408 visa. In this case you may not get work rights.