Several amendments to legislative instruments were released last week, providing concessions for workers whose employment has been adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic, and securing their pathway to permanent residency.
Concessions available for visa holders stood down and hours reduced
At the onset of the COVID pandemic, as businesses were forced to follow strict lockdown rules, Minister Tudge promised skilled worker visa holders, who were consequently stood down or had their hours reduced, that they would not be in breach of their visa conditions. He also promised that 'their time already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residency skilled work experience requirements.'1
On 23 November 2020, Minister Alan Tudge, in keeping with his promise, amended several Legislative Instruments providing the necessary and anticipated concessions now available to subclass 457 and 482 work visa holders whose work conditions had been adversely affected by the COVID pandemic.
Coronavirus reduced work period
A new Legislative Instrument defines a coronavirus reduced work period, recognising a reduced work period where but for the COVID pandemic the visa holder's employment would have been full-time. The effect of the Instrument is that 457 and 482 visa holders who had been stood down or had their hours reduced hours anytime beginning 1 February 2020, will be able to count that period of time towards the required period of employment in an application for permanent residency through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the subclass 186 and 187 visa.
Higher Income Threshold and Age exemptions
A further Legislative Instrument provides concessions for certain Subclass 457 and 482 visa holders who were previously exempt from the age requirements under the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the subclass 186 and 187 visas based on earning the Fair Work High Income Threshold. These workers will continue to be eligible for the age exemption, despite their earnings being affected by the COVID Pandemic.
The concession period begins on 1 February 2020, and extends a concession to worker's whose employment is affected by a "coronavirus employment change" and as a result are;
- required to work at a reduced salary, or
- required to work reduced hours, or
- required to work part-time, or
- unable to work full-time; or
- stood down.
The following pro-rata threshold formula will apply for the period when their earnings were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both amendments apply to applications:
- Made on or after 1 February 2020 and before 24 November 2020 and not finally decided, or
- Applications made on or after 24 November 2020.
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