On 31 August 2023, the Department of Home Affairs announced the closure of the 408 COVID Visa, effective 1 September 2023 at midnight. Short time frame was used to prevent a flood of new applications.
What is the 408 Visa?
The 408 COVID-19 pandemic stream Visa was introduced in March 2020 in response to the global pandemic. The initial purpose of the visa was to allow people to remain in Australia if they were unable to return to their home country and had skills that could contribute to Australia’s response to the pandemic.
In May 2021, it was announced that temporary visa holders working in critical sectors could apply for the COVID visa and secure up to 12 months of work rights to support the Australian economy. Critical sectors were defined as agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, child-care, tourism, and hospitality. In January 2022, eligibility to apply was extended to temporary visa holders working in “any industry” and having an employment offer for 12 months.
This visa stream was essential in not only helping eligible visa holders but also the broader Australian community by allowing skilled workers to continue to participate in the Australian workforce, serving a dual purpose of individual security and community welfare.
Closure of the 408 Visa – what are the changes?
On 31 August 2023, the Department of Home Affairs announced that the 408 COVID Visa will be ceasing on 1 September 2023, at midnight.
This cessation means that the Department of Home Affairs will no longer accept new applications for this stream from 2 September 2023.
Existing 408 visa holders in the Pandemic Event Stream, will continue to hold their visas until they expire and will be eligible to renew their visa for 6 months (as opposed to 12 months) until February 2024. To qualify for the renewal, applicants will need to have a visa that is expiring in 28 days or less (as opposed to 90 days or less) and the visa application will attract a fee of $405 (as opposed to nil at the moment).
Implications for the future:
The closure of the 408 COVID pandemic stream Visa is an important milestone in Australia’s migration program, highlighting the need for adaptability and accurate information.
It highlights that the landscape of immigration laws and visa options is ever-changing, and the importance of staying updated with the latest developments and being prepared to shift your strategy to meet the changing needs of your clients.
Tanja Djokic is a Principal Solicitor of TD Migration Consulting, law practice specialising in immigration law. Tanja is a passionate and results driven lawyer with extensive experience working with both corporate and individual clients and focuses her business practice on providing high quality immigration advice, and a smooth, efficient, and stress-free visa application process for her clients.
Tanja is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of NSW, High Court of Australia and is also admitted as a Solicitor and Barrister of High Court of New Zealand. She is a Member of the Law Society of Australia and Migration Institute of Australia.
Tanja also acts as Mentor for law students and graduates entering the legal profession sharing her experiences and guiding the students as they develop their professional selves whilst transitioning from the University to the legal profession. Connect with Tanja via LinkedIn