The 408 Pandemic Visa – What You Need to Know

 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government established the Pandemic Event Stream of the 408 Visa to provide flexible arrangements for visa holders in Australia.   Interstaff set out what you should know about this visa.

 

 

 

 

Written by Sheila Woods of Interstaff  6 April, 2021

 

Who can apply for a 408 (Pandemic Stream) Visa?

You may be able to apply for the 408 (Pandemic Stream) Visa if you:

  • Are in Australia;
  • Have a visa that is expiring / expired;
  • Have no other visa options.

In addition to the above, you can only apply for this visa for two reasons – either:

a.) For work in a Critical Sector

You must have 90 days or less on your current visa or your last substantive visa* expired less than 28 days ago (Note: Substantive visas do not include Bridging Visas);

OR

b.) To extend your stay because you cannot depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

 

You must have 28 days or less on your current visa or your last substantive visa expired less than 28 days ago.

 

How long can I stay in Australia on a 408 (Pandemic Stream) Visa? 

  • Up to 12 months if approved for work in a Critical Sector
  • Up to 3 months if you cannot leave Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions

 

What is a Critical Sector for the 408 Visa?

The Government’s definition of a Critical Sector may change depending on Australia’s needs during the pandemic. Here’s what it currently includes for the 408 Visa:

  • Agriculture
  • Food processing
  • Health care
  • Aged care
  • Disability care
  • Child care

  

Should employers consider the 408 Visa for employees?

The 408 Pandemic Event Visa is not a sponsored visa. Individual applicants may apply with evidence that:

  • An Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident cannot fill the position;
  • The position is needed for work in a Critical Sector – including dates of work.

Provided that the work is for a Critical Sector and the visa holder is currently in Australia, there are a few scenarios where employers and employees have been using this visa:

  • For workers on a Working Holiday Maker Visa that do not meet the requirements for a second or third Working Holiday Maker Visa and are unable to leave Australia
    • Note: Those approved for Critical Work in the health or medical sectors can use their work on the 408 Visa as ‘eligible work’ for a second or third Working Holiday Visa;
  • For workers on the Seasonal Worker Program whose visa is expiring / expired.

As global mobility is limited during the pandemic, the 408 Visa option has been used to allow for ongoing work in critical areas that are experiencing skill shortages.

 

What should I know before applying for a 408 Visa?

To apply as a Critical Sector worker, evidence from an employer is required.

To apply to extend your stay due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, you should include evidence that:

  • You cannot fly due to COVID-19 travel restrictions;
  • You have no other visa options based on your intended activities;
  • You have enough funds to support your stay (you will not be provided work rights).

All 408 Visa applicants should provide evidence of health insurance.

Other things to note:

  • You can add family members in Australia to this visa;
  • You can apply for another 408 Visa if it is about to expire (if still eligible);
  • You must meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement.

 

What is the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement?

Some Temporary Visas in Australia have a GTE requirement to assess if you genuinely intend to stay temporarily in Australia. It considers a range of factors including:

  • Your reasons for applying and whether these fit the visa’s intended purpose;
  • Your visa history – to ensure you are not attempting to maintain ongoing residence without using the appropriate Permanent Residence Visa pathways;
  • Your compliance with visa conditions;

Other relevant matters – including your suitability for the role, circumstances in your home country and whether the role was created to secure your ongoing stay.  

 

How many 408 Visas have been granted? How long does it take? 

The below statistics show how many 408 Visas have been granted by the Department of Home Affairs compared to the number of applications received.

Current Government processing times are not available for this visa, but from October to December 2020, 75% of applications received a decision in four months.

 

Interstaff assist people all over the world with the legal and professional process to travel or migrate to Australia for temporary work or permanent residence. Established in 1988, Interstaff has been trusted by migrating individuals and businesses for over 30 years and are the strongest group of experts for visa work in Australia. MARN: 0533879.