COVID-19 Concession Period Ends
The COVID-19 concession period officially ended on 25 November 2023.
From early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in international travel restrictions, and deteriorating business and employment conditions. The Australian Government implemented temporary measures related to an initial concession period. This was to provide concessions for applicants of certain visa subclasses affected by travel restrictions and which made it difficult for them to meet visa requirements. This included where the applicant must be located at time of application.
The concession period is no longer relevant as all COVID-19 international travel restrictions have been lifted. Travellers to Australia no longer need to:
- provide information in relation to their vaccination status, or
- seek travel exemptions.
The impacted visa programs that utilise the initial concession period are:
Employer Sponsored visas
Since 25 November 2023 new nominations for the following visa streams require Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) holders to have worked in a position with their sponsoring employer, or worked in the occupation for medical practitioners and certain executives, for 2 out of the previous 3 years.
- Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
- Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
- Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream.
The following COVID-19 concessions have become redundant:
- Periods of reduced work due to COVID-19 will not count towards meeting the work experience requirements for new ENS/RSMS TRT stream nomination applications.
- The COVID-19 concession to the age exemption for high income earning applicants will not apply for new ENS/RSMS visa applications.
The age exemption for legacy 457 workers in Australia for 12 months during the pandemic from 1 February 2020 to 14 December 2021 will apply for ENS visa applications lodged before 1 July 2024.
Skilled Regional Visa subclass 887
The temporary concessions available to holders of eligible skilled provisional visas to apply for the subclass 887 visa are set around the COVID-19 concession period.
The concessions allowed eligible prospective subclass 887 visa applicants to lodge from in or outside Australia during the concession period and to access shorter periods of employment and regional residence requirements.
Applicants can only access the employment requirement concession if they:
- held an eligible skilled provisional visa during the concession period, and
- make a valid application within 3 months of Monday 26 February 2024.
The ending of the concession period has now ended any other concessions for the subclass 887 visa.
Since 25 November 2023 eligible skilled provisional visa holders applying for a subclass 887 visa must be in Australia, but not in immigration clearance, when applying.
The COVID-19 concessions removed restrictions on the ‘location at the time of visa grant’ requirement for certain Family program visa applicants.
Applicants for certain Partner and Child visas who applied before 26 November 2023, and who were in Australia at any time during the concession period, will continue to be eligible to be granted a visa in Australia (if they meet all other visa criteria) after the end of the concession period. The COVID-19 concession arrangements will not apply to Partner and Child applicants who were not in Australia at any time during the COVID-19 concession period.
The COVID-19 concessions for certain Parent visa applicants, only applied during the COVID-19 concession period, from 1 February 2020 to 25 November 2023.
Business Innovation and Investment Program visas
COVID-19 concessions were put in place for the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) under the:
- provisional subclass 188 visa – Business Innovation Extension stream
- permanent subclass 888 visa under all streams.
BIIP applicants who are eligible to exercise COVID-19 concessions to make a valid application can do so for 3 months after the end of the concession period. Applications must be submitted before the end of Monday 26 February 2024.
Safe Haven Enterprise Visa
The end of the COVID-19 concession will have minimal impact for the Safe Haven Enterprise visa pathway program. The Australian Government has provided a permanent visa pathway option to Safe Haven Enterprise visa holders through the Resolution of Status (subclass 851) (RoS) visa.
Temporary Graduate visa
Since 25 November 2023 all applications for any stream of the Temporary Graduate visa (TGV) program must be lodged in Australia. Subsequent entrant applications can be lodged in or outside of Australia. The ability to grant applications to applicants who are either in or outside of Australia (but not in immigration clearance) will continue.