Good news for Temporary Graduate and Skilled Regional Provisional visa holders affected by the covid pandemic. For applicants who meet the requirements, the Australian visa has been extended effective today, 18 February 2022.
Development of regional Australia
The large Australian metropolitan areas such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are extremely popular, but also very densely populated. And yet the areas surrounding these cities (regional Australia) are struggling with labour shortages. With a tailored migration policy, the Australian government strives for the sustainable development of regional areas. Through arrangements, these regional communities are enabled to address skills and labour shortages. In this way, they also benefit from the substantial economic advantages that migration brings to Australia.
The Skilled Regional Provisional visas are an important part of the strategy to support regional Australia. If candidates and their family members live, work and study in regional Australia for the first period of their stay (which varies by visa category), they are eligible for permanent residence.
The impact of covid-19 on visa holders
Many visa holders have faced international travel restrictions due to covid-19 since February 2020. This has severely restricted their ability to travel to Australia. This also includes Skilled Regional Provisional visa holders. The travel restrictions have prevented many visa holders from moving to regional Australia to live and work there. Others had to leave (regional) Australia and could not return to resume their work or find other suitable employment. As a result, a large number of visa holders encountered difficulties, jeopardising their right of residence and their application for a permanent visa.
Measures for affected holders of Skilled Regional Provisional visas
On 25 November 2021, the Australian Government announced the first of a series of measures to assist affected visa holders and visa applicants. For example, (former) Skilled Regional Provisional visa holders would be given additional time to meet the residency and work requirements to apply for permanent residence. Last month, on 18 January, it was further clarified that these visas would be extended for a period of three years. Specifically, this means:
- Visa subclass 489, 491 and 494 will be extended for a period of three years from the original visa expiry date, if;
- The primary visa holder was outside Australia for any time between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 and held a valid visa within the above visa categories during that time;
- In the case of visa holders within subclass 491 and 494, it is important that the visa is in force on 18 February;
- The extension also applies to secondary visa holders including partners and children.
Measures for affected Temporary Graduate visa holders
On 25 November 2021, it was announced that the government intended to introduce a substitute subclass 485 visa. This visa applies to visa holders who have lost time in Australia due to international travel restrictions. The visa is available to applicants who were outside Australia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 15 December 2021. However, it is important that they were in possession of a valid subclass 485 visa during that period.
As the replacement visa is expected to be available from mid-2022, the validity of certain visas will be extended to 30 September 2022. This will allow affected visa holders to return to Australia. During this period, they can stay, live, work or study in Australia until the replacement visa can be applied for.
This extension applies to all subclass 485 visa holders where the primary visa holder was outside of AustraIia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021. It is important that the applicant was in possession of a valid subclass 485 visa which expired or was due to expire before 1 October 2022 but has not been cancelled. It is also important that the holder has not obtained another visa. The extension also applies to secondary visa holders such as a partner and child(ren).
Has my visa been extended?
Are you unsure if your visa has been extended, or do you want to double check? In that case we recommend you to check your visa conditions in VEVO. You can do this by using your visa and passport details. Therefore keep your passport and grant notification at hand. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you have trouble finding a solution.