The Australian Immigration Department announced new initiatives to boost the country’s international tourism and agriculture once the borders start to gradually re-open.
To ensure Australia remains an attractive destination for tourists, and temporary visa holders, refunds or waivers of Visa Application Charges (VAC) will be offered to eligible applicants.
Tourists, working holiday makers, seasonal and pacific workers, prospective partners and temporary skilled workers whose travel has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible.
Visitor visa holders who are overseas and whose visas expired or will expire between March 2020 and December 2021 will be eligible for a waiver when they apply for a new visa.
Working holiday makers
Backpackers on Working Holiday Maker visas who have been unable to come to Australia or who had to leave Australia early due to COVID-19 will also be eligible for a waiver, when they decide to return to Australia.
Those who are unable to return because they have passed the age limit for a Working Holiday Maker visa will be able to claim a refund.
Temporary skilled workers
Due to travel restrictions there are many Temporary Skill Shortage and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders who have not made their initial entry to Australia, or have returned home due to COVID-19 and may wish to apply again.
To support local businesses that seek to access critical skills not available in the local labour workforce, the Government will offer a waiver of the Australian visa application fee for subsequent applications by affected temporary employer sponsored skilled migrants.
Subsequent skilled visa applications will still be subject to the strict labour market testing requirements to ensure Australians have first priority for jobs.
Prospective Marriage visa holders
Prospective Marriage visa holders who have been unable to enter Australia before their visa expired, due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, will be offered application fee refunds. Refunds will ensure these visa holders are able to apply for another visa to travel to Australia and hold their wedding once travel restrictions are lifted. For those visas that have already expired, any new application will be prioritised.
Visa extensions will be available for Prospective Marriage visa holders whose visas are still valid.