Australia will refund visa holders stranded by COVID-19

VAC waiver for stranded visa holders

COVID-19 has kept many valid visa holders including temporary visa holders and visitor visa holders in Australia to stay offshore due to the pandemic induced travel restrictions. Now, the Australian government has made such visa holders eligible to get their VAC waived for a visa application submitted subsequently.

This decision will allow these visa holders to come back to Australia once the travel restrictions are removed. The new measure was announced as part of the PR migration shakeup that was given in the federal budget recently. The move is to ensure that Australia stays on as a destination of choice for temporary visa holders and tourists.

Temporary visa holders are even desired as many of them have skills that aren’t readily available with the local population.

Those who are eligible to use this scheme include:

  • Seasonal and pacific workers
  • Tourists
  • Temporary skilled workers
  • Prospective partners

Here’s how particular visa type holders are eligible to apply for a refund under the new decision:

Visitor visa holders

Holders of Australian visit visa that has expiry dates between March 2020 and December 2021 will be eligible for a waiver when they apply for a visa under the new changes.

This arrangement will help encourage people to travel to Australia when the nation’s international borders re-open. As is the situation right now, it’s expected that international travel will largely remain closed until late 2021 before it gradually returns to normal.

Temporary skilled visa holders

The estimated number of temporary visa holders (Subclass 482 and 457) stranded offshore due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions as of now is 40,000. Out of these, many have not made their first entry into the country yet and are still in their home countries.

These people are eligible to seek a VAC waiver for their new applications. The new move will ensure that local businesses will be able to find foreigners with critical skills absent in the local workforce.

Prospective marriage visa holders (Subclass 300)

The Prospective Marriage visa holders get 9 months to travel to Australia to marry an Australian PR or citizen. Visa holders under this category who had faced entry restrictions on entering Canada before the visa expired are eligible for a VAC waiver.

For those whose visas are still valid, visa extensions are still available.

Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labor Scheme visa holders

These visa holders will also be eligible for a VAC refund claim with the very same conditions that are considered for the new decision. The waiver is also available to backpackers holding Working Holiday Maker visas who were ready to come back to Australia but were not able to, owing to COVID-19. Such visa holders who had to leave Australia earlier than the validity period of the visa are also included in the list of beneficiaries. So are those whose age limit has passed for the said visa before being able to return to Australia.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Australia, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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VAC – Visa Application Charge

PR – Permanent Resident

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Anshul Singhal

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