2. About Us
The Australian continent is surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans,
also being a hub of highly advanced cities. With Sydney, Melbourne,
Brisbane,Perth and Adelaide as main cities - Australia has a lot to
experience in terms of living and studying. Southern Stone International
is a highly reputable migration agency located in Mount Waverley,
Melbourne and specialize in providing tailored Australian visa and
migration services.We are exceptionally experienced and trained to
assist businesses and individuals, irrespective of background or ethnicity
to obtain the best visa or migration outcome.
3. COVID-19 & Your Visa Options
As of noon 06 April 2020, Australia has registered 5,687 COVID-19 cases,
with 39 fallen victim to this virus which has so quickly changed the world
we live in, perhaps, forever.
Australia is fortunate so far to not be seeing the number of deaths that
other countries such as Italy, Spain and the United States are experiencing,
however, we will all agree that since the COVID-19 was announced a
pandemic by the World Health Organization three weeks ago, there is no
part of our society’s socio-economic fabric that remains untouched.
4. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly said that unprecedented
times call for unprecedented measures, and as seen from the raft of
financial support/rescue packages announced by the Australian
government, billions are being handed out to families and businesses.
This has been tremendously welcomed and it is times like this that I am
grateful to be an Australian. However, for the majority of my clients who
unfortunately are not permanent residents, citizens or hold special
category visas, there is a great degree of uncertainty.
5. Visitor Visas
(Typically subclass 600, 651, ETAs)
• Current 203,000 visitors in Australia
• Government says you should return home as soon as possible,
especially those without family support.
• My advice is to heed this unless you are in Australia with friends and
family who can fully support you for a prolonged period of time.
If your visa is near expiring, please ensure that you apply to extend your
stay. Those with condition ‘8503’ – No Further Stay condition
should request for a waiver as soon as possible or contact us to assist in
6. Student Visas (Subclass 500)
• Currently 565,000 international students in Australia and provide
support for 240,000 Australian jobs.
• Government does not want to lose this cohort as they bring great
value to the Australian economy.
• JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments are not available to students.
• Students are to seek part-time work, family support and their own
savings to sustain themselves in Australia.
• Students who have been in Australia longer than 12 months are able
to access their Australian superannuation.
• Some education providers and universities have offered discounted
tuition fees and payment plans to assist students.
• Students working in aged care and as nurses have work restrictions
lifted to support these critical sectors.
7. • Students working in major supermarkets have work restrictions
lifted until 1st May 2020.
• Government will be flexible with visa conditions – as to how flexible
this remains to be seen due to the changing nature of the virus.
• Temporary Skilled visa holders (subclass 457, 482)
• Currently 139,000 temporary skilled visa holders on either 2 or 4
• If you are temporarily stood down, your visa remains valid and your
employer may extend your visa in due course.
• Sponsoring employers will be able to reduce the hours of visa
holders and this will not breach the visa holders’ visa conditions.
• Temporary workers can access up to $10,000 of their
superannuation in the 2019/2020 financial year.
8. Working Holiday Visas
(WHV Subclass 417, 462)
• 118,000 in Australia on working holiday visas.
• WHV holders working in health, aged and disability care, agriculture and
food processing and childcare will be waived the six-month work
limitation with one employer and will be eligible for a further WHV to
keep working in these sectors if their current visa is expiring within 6
• WHV holders who will struggle to sustain themselves over the next 6
months should return home.
The current reality is that many WHV holders are in limbo, with little or no
savings, no employment and unable to afford flights back home. There are
many jobs still in regional Australia, however, with state-imposed travel
restrictions, visa holders may not be able to go where workers are needed.
9. New Zealanders on 444 Visas
• Currently 672,000 New Zealanders on Special Category subclass 444
• Those arriving before 26 February 2001 will have access to welfare
payments and the JobKeeper payment.
• Those arriving after 2001 will have access to the JobKeeper payment
• Those who have lived in Australia for 10 years or more will
have access to the JobSeeker payments.
• Those still unable to financially support themselves should return to
10. Other Temporary Visa Holders
• About 92,500 Temporary Graduate visa holders
• Another 92,500 on other temporary visas
• Government says they will be able to access Australian
superannuation if needed
In addition, a new Subclass 408 (Temporary Activity)
visa commenced 04 April 2020 and provides a pathway to extend
time in Australia for temporary visa holders who would otherwise
be required to leave Australia, however, cannot do so due to the
COVID-19 pandemic. This visa is usually intended for
applicants who arrive in Australia to do specific types of work on a
short-term, temporary basis.
11. This stream of the subclass 408 visa will be free to apply however, will only
be open to those who are working in critical industries such as agriculture,
aged care and public health. Applicants must also continue to engage in
this work or have the relevant skills to undertake critical work in relation
to the supply of essential goods and services.
12. I have been contemplating what the Australian government will do with
temporary visa holders at the onset of COVID-19 as it became clear that
severe restrictions would be put in place, rendering many businesses
paralysed and workers made redundant.
I had hoped that at the very least, given the reliance of these temporary visa
holders for many of Australian industries, Australia would at least model
their policy on other countries such as New Zealand and the United
Kingdom who have provided a blanket extension on temporary visa holders.
For example, New Zealand will automatically extend visas for all those on
temporary visas before 1st April 2020 until 25 September 2020.
Further, there are many more questions that require answers, especially for
the thousands of business with sponsored workers, e.g., should the
payment for the SAF levy be waived temporarily, should the requirement on
labor market testing and wage limit also be waived as we ride out this
13. A proportion of these temporary visa holders have also lodged their
permanent residency visa application and are awaiting processing. We have
noted that there is almost a halt in the processing of all visas and do not
expect any permanent residency visa grants in the short term. This is my
guess and my guess is based on:
1. Many case officers being re-directed to other department functions and
2. Given the current waive on waiting periods, approving permanent
residency applications will add to the current social welfare burden.
Unfortunately, it is clear that at least for now, there is a lack of political
will/incentive to make further changes to the current regulations and
policies, aside from what has been relayed above. Australia is grappling with
the situation as best as it can, though as with any political decision-making,
there are winners and there are losers. With the COVID-19 pandemic
however, there are no winners.