As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, many of us are now facing an uncertain future in relation to our employment, and being a temporary visa holder in Australia can add to this uncertainty. At Oz Migration, we have been inundated with questions from both the employers and visa holders. To assist, we have outlined below the top five questions we have been asked, along with the answers to help you through this uncertainty.
1) Can the hours for a primary Temporary Skill Worker (TSS) visa holder be reduced, or they can be offered a part-time role? Has the Department relaxed the rules for TSS visa holders due to the COVID-19?
For most workers on TSS visas, their visa condition states they must remain in full-time employment and must continue to be paid at the level which was approved for the visa. Over the weekend, the Department has confirmed there will be some flexibility around relaxing the rules with full-time employment, and businesses will be able to reduce the hours of a TSS visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa condition.
If a TSS visa holder has been laid off due to COVID-19, however re-employed afterwards, their time already spent in Australia will still be counted towards their permanent residency skilled work experience requirements.
The Department has also confirmed that TSS visa holders will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year.
2) Can a TSS visa holder be placed on unpaid leave? If so, how long?
Given the unfortunate circumstances, businesses are able to place their TSS visa holders on unpaid leave for up to 3 months. Businesses are able to request for longer periods, however should seek permission from the Department and we can assist with this process.
In terms of assistance from the government, there hasn’t been any confirmation yet that TSS visa holders will receive payments such as unemployment/social security benefits from Centrelink. However, the government has suggested, if a company has a downturn of 30% in trade, this may trigger a $1,500 fortnightly payment for all employees that are affected, which may (or may not) include TSS holder if they are on the company’s payroll. It is therefore important to keep up-to-date, and we will provide further clarification once the legislation is actually enacted which will provide clearer guidance.
3) What happens when a TSS visa holder loses their job?
If you have lost your job, please contact our team to discuss your options. We may be able to come up with an alternative solution based on your circumstances, such as transitioning you to a different visa type, or assisting you to transfer your sponsorship to another employer. Our sister company, Pendragon, has an approved On-Hire Labour Agreement, and so they may be able to act as your surrogate employer as well.
4) What happens if someone has a 8503 condition on their visa, however they are unable to leave the country?
The visa condition ‘8503 – No Further Stay’ prevents a visa holder from applying for another visa whilst in Australia to remain in the country. Home Affairs has advised that in the current circumstances, they will be flexible with lifting the restrictions. The process requires an application for a waiver of the condition, and they are advising processing timeframes will take approximately 2 to 3 days, instead of their standard processing timeframes of 4 weeks. We have already assisted many clients with these applications, all with successful outcomes, so please don’t hesitate to reach us if you would like assistance or advice.
5) Can a TSS visa holder with family overseas bring their family to join them in Australia?
Due to the recent strict travel restrictions which has been implemented by Australia and most overseas countries, only Australian citizens, Permanent Residents and selected New Zealand citizens are able to enter Australia at the moment. For this reason, even if the family members who are currently overseas are already approved and attached to the primary TSS visa holder as dependents, they are still currently unable to enter Australia, unless they have successfully applied for the waiver. If you or your family is affected, our office is able to assist with applying for this waiver.
Alternatively, if you have any questions or want to know more about the above information please feel free to talk to us on 02 9407 8788 or reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help…!
Written by Robert Lu.
Robert is the Immigration Manager at Oz Migration Solutions. He has been working in the industry for the last 12 years, passionate about immigration and a believer in “Big Australia”.