Today’s blog will focus on temporary visa holders who are part of the Seasonal Worker Program or the Pacific Labour Scheme. With the looming consequences surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the Department has provided some support to those affected under this visa 403 subclass.
In a nutshell, the Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403) allows you to come to Australia under one of six streams:
- Government Agreement stream: This visa stream allows a person to work in Australia under the terms and conditions of a bilateral agreement between the Australian Government and a government of another country.
- Foreign Government Agency stream: This visa stream lets you come to Australia for specific activities. You could work in Australia employed by a foreign government as a foreign language teacher or as a representative of a foreign government agency.
- Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream: This visa stream lets a person aged 18 years or older do temporary full-time domestic work in Australia in the household of someone who holds a Diplomatic (Temporary) visa (subclass 995).
- Privileges and Immunities stream: This visa stream lets you come to Australia if you have, or expect to have, privileges and immunities under relevant legislation. You can stay in Australia on this visa while you are working as an international representative.
- Seasonal Worker Program stream: This visa stream lets you come to Australia temporarily to participate in the Seasonal Worker Program.
- Pacific Labour Scheme stream: This visa stream lets you come to Australia to participate in the Pacific Labour Scheme program.
I am a 403 visa holder under the Pacific Labour Scheme, can I extend my visa?
Unfortunately, under this visa, you will be unable to apply for an extension if your visa has expired or is going to expire. You can however, apply for another subclass 403 visa in the Pacific Labour Scheme where you are:
- are endorsed again by DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) to participate in the Pacific Labour Scheme
- are sponsored by an Australian employer endorsed by DFAT who is an approved Temporary Activities sponsor
Once applied, this visa will allow you to stay lawfully in Australia, and continue working, if you wish to do so, or until you can return to your home country.
I am a 403 visa holder under the Seasonal Worker Program, can I extend my visa?
Again, your visa cannot be extended. However, the Australian Government has introduced new measures to support those who work in critical sectors to combat COVID-19. The Government has introduced what is known as a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa. This applies to those whose visa is about to expire (or has expired), who cannot leave Australia, and who work in the critical sectors (health, aged care and agriculture). If you are eligible for this 408 visa, you will be able to stay lawfully in Australia, and continue working until you are able to your home country.
It is important to note here, that any arrangements made for 403 visa holders under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme, including those relating to employers, will be carried over to the new visa arrangements, continuing the link with the agricultural sector.
I have an 8503 (No Further Stay) and 8577 (Changing Employers) condition attached to my visa, what do I do now during this pandemic?
- 8503 visa condition: For Seasonal Workers, during the COVID-19 period, the 8503 (No Further Stay) visa condition will be automatically waived to allow you to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream) visa. As a result, you do not need to apply for a waiver of condition 8503.
- 8577 visa condition: For Seasonal Workers or those under the Pacific Labour Scheme, the 8577 visa condition would normally allow you to work for one Sponsor or Approved Employer, unless the Department of Home Affairs gives you permission to change. However, during the COVID-19 period, you will be able to move between Sponsors/Approved Employers.
If you need to move between Sponsors/Approved Employers, your employer must contact:
- the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (if you are a Seasonal Worker)
- the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (if you are working in the Pacific Labour Scheme)
If you hold a 403 visa and you work under the Seasonal Worker Program or the Pacific Labour Scheme these visa changes under the COVID-19 pandemic will affect you. At Migration Centre of Australia, we know the challenges our clients face and we know that these are difficult and unprecedented times. For many years, we have been trusted by our clients to provide them with guided migration advice and our Registered Migration Agents are able to take you through each step of the way. Whether it is beginning a visa application or simply seeking your options for a visa pathway, we can help you. Contact us today on 02 4626 1002 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our migration agents will be ready to assist.