The latest measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic have been noticed immediately by everyone in Australia: citizens, permanent residents, temporary visa holders or illegal non-citizens alike. The government estimates that at least a million people may become unemployed as the coronavirus devastates the Australian economy. International students and holders of subclass 482 are among the hundreds of thousands of people who have already lost their jobs.
In the past couple of days, MIA have attended meetings with the Acting Minister of Immigration and with senior managers from the Ministry of the Interior on measures to protect and safeguard the rights of temporary visa holders and applicants.
The government and the ministry are working on the MIA problems to find solutions. The government does not want temporary visa holders to become vulnerable and open to exploitation within the community. In the areas of home affairs, health and social security, the government is taking a holistic approach to developing strategies to protect visa holders.
The Border Force Commissioner has been empowered to authorize travel in compelling and compassionate situations. The government is likely to create a framework that could include critical infrastructure projects, health and basic services, separated families and temporary visa holders with a previously Australian residence who have been caught by the recent offshore travel restrictions. Changes to travel restrictions must be approved by the Cabinet’s National Security Committee.
Some problems can be quickly resolved by adjusting the policy settings. Problems that can be resolved by an instrument and that involve changes in regulations and laws are more time-consuming to implement.
The MIA encourages the government to make the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster in migration regulations, and then take a number of measures to support visa holders.
The measures we asked the department to implement include:
- Immediately waive visa requirement 8503 for all visa holders who are currently in Australia so that they can apply for other visas
- Create a COVID-19 specific fee-free visa solution that enables this Labor rights and access to Medicare for the duration of the emergency
- First, consider automatically extending temporary visas until October 30, 2020
- Immediately remove the LMT and SAF requirements
MIA also has many visa-specific questions and commitments related to corporate sponsorship Part-time employment, go without paying, Stand-downs and Cuts. The department is aware that due to the many forced closings that have to be resumed, skilled workers will have to resign if these companies are allowed to reopen.
MIA has also raised questions related to eligibility for subclass 186/187 TRT regulations, from subclass 188/489 temporary visas to subclass 888/887 permanent visas and other visa authorization and sponsorship obligations.
MIA discussed possible solutions for international students who cannot apply for subclass 485 visas that are affected by the pandemic and travel restrictions off the coast.
The government doesn’t want people to become illegal non-citizens. Temporary visa holders are encouraged to maintain legal status.
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