There are some 20,000 holders of the Pandemic Event Subclass 408 visa currently in Australia. The Federal Government introduced this visa as a direct response to the COVID pandemic to assist overseas nationals who have run out of visa options and who cannot return home in the midst of the pandemic to remain residing in Australia. The Pandemic visa also offers these visa holders to assist in a number of critical industries that were greatly impacted and needed a boost of labour supply. Consequently, the applicants who held jobs in critical sectors or declared their intention to work in critical sectors are granted Pandemic Event visas with 12 months duration and limited work rights, namely their engagement in work in a critical sector.
Consequently the work limiting condition imposed on their visas requires that they continue to work with the employer nominated in their visa approval, or if they change the employer the new role must also be in a critical sector and they must notify the Department of the change of employer. Failure to comply with their visa conditions places visa holders in a vulnerable position as this would be considered a breach of visa condition and could lead to their visa being cancelled. If their employment has ended it does not mean they have to make arrangements to depart Australia as long as they are able to secure another engagement in a critical sector area. Pandemic Event visa holders are permitted to work for different employers in any critical sector in any occupation and any position. If they happen to be working for multiple employers at least one of the roles must be in a critical sector for them to continue to be considered compliant with their work limiting condition.
The best practice for Pandemic Event visa holders to remain compliant with the condition, if there is a change in their employment to notify the Department of the changes. They should provide at the minimum the details of their new employer in a critical sector and at best a letter by the new employer, or employment contract or position description, or a job offer, any third party information showing greater detail about the new employment in critical sector. There is no need to provide details of employers who are not in a critical sector as such employment would not be considered a compliance with the visa condition. Pandemic Event visa holders who are changing employers should complete a Notification of changes in circumstances (Form 1022) and email the completed and signed form to the Department at email@example.com
It is important to remain compliant at all times, as substantial compliance is amongst the criteria for further visa approvals. Without clear ending in sight for the pandemic many Pandemic Event visa holders would be looking to extend their stay beyond the 12 months validity of their visas.
Assent Migration Lawyers are here to help you navigate the space of the constantly changing visa and immigration landscape in Australia during the time of pandemic.