The Australian Government has announced the new temporary activity visa under subclass 408 in a bid to support public health professionals in the face of the COVID-19 situations. Now officially created under the Temporary Activity visa stream, the new subclass 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) visa (hereinafter “COVID-19 Pandemic Visa”) has been implemented as an interim measure for the purpose of responding to the unprecedented circumstances which Australia is facing now, caused by the pandemic of COVID-19. As such, given its temporary nature, this visa will be frequently reviewed, revised and ultimately be abolished once the pandemic is controlled. Eligibility To be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following criteria: currently residing in Australia unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 border shutdowns current visa is to expire within 28 days or last temporary visa expired less than 28 days ago no other visas available in the given circumstances employed in a critical industry sector and your employer is able to provide evidence that it is difficult to replace your role with another permanent resident or citizen. Critical sectors If you are currently holding a working holiday visa; working in industries such as agriculture, food production, processing and distribution, and aged, child and disability care; and unable to return to your home country or ineligible for other visas, then, you are eligible to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic visa. A Seasonal Worker Programme visa holder whose visa is set to expire within the next 28 days is also eligible to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic visa. Similarly, so long as the visa holder is employed in the above critical sectors, anyone whose visa is temporary, has no other option to extend and cannot return to their home countries can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic visa. In this case, you will be required to provide evidence of your employment together with the application form. Last Resort Even if you are a temporary visa holder staying in Australia but not working in the critical sectors, you may be eligible to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic visa on the basis that you are unable to return to your home country. Once the visa is granted, you will be lawfully allowed to stay in Australia until you can return to your home country safely. If you are currently on a bridging visa and your original visa application has been rejected, then you will not be eligible for this visa. For more information, please follow this link.
On 1 March 2019, the Department of Home Affairs announced the commencement of the new Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 870), a new sub-class under the temporary parent visa stream. As you may already be familiar with other temporary visas such as ETA and subclass 600 visa, this new parent visa will only allow successful applicants to stay with their child(ren) in Australia temporarily and not lead to permanent residency. Sponsorship If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you are eligible to be a sponsor and will not be required to meet the Balance of Family test for this visa. This means that, unlike other family-stream permanent residence visas, your parents will not need to show that at least half of their children and grandchildren are either Australian citizens or permanent residents. However, sponsors must still show that they have been usual residents in Australia for at least 4 years, their household income is over the threshold with supporting evidence and provide police checks. Applications to be an approved sponsor opened on 17 April 2019 and available via Immi Account for a fee of $420. Visa Parents must apply for the visa within 6 months of the date their children’s sponsorship has been approved. Applications opened on 1 July 2019 and the fee is $5,000 for a three-year visa and $10,000 for a five-year visa. When a parent’s first 870 visa expires, the parent will initially have to leave Australia and not be allowed to enter for a period of 90 days. However, the parent will be eligible to re-apply for the same visa to stay up to a maximum of ten years without any additional restrictions. Successful applicants will not have work rights on this visa and must provide evidence of access to funds and bear the burden of health insurance at their own cost. The number of grants will be limited to just 15,000 per year. The benefit of this new visa is that it does not require applicants to meet the Balance of Family Test and is relatively cheaper than other visas. The new subclass 870 visa is essentially a more affordable option for parents who visit Australia in order to help the delivery or raising of their grandchildren without having to apply for and stay on a short temporary travel visa.
Q: I am an office worker with a work visa. I was fined due to a bodily harm case. Not too long ago, I received a notice from the Immigration Office that they were prepared to cancel by visa due to the conviction. What should I do now? (25 year-old office worker, male) A: As seen in the previous column, according to the Migration Act if it is found that the visa holder is deemed to be incompatible with the “Character Test”, the Department of Immigration has the authority to revoke the individual’s visa and “this decision is at the discretion of the Department of Immigration”. In this regard, the basis for judging the visa revocation is dependent on the conviction of the actual bodily harm crime. Usually, visa holders that receive notices that state there is a possibility of the revocation of the visa by the Department of Immigration have seven business days from the date of notice to appeal. The deadline is observed strictly. In order to make an appropriate appeal to the Department of Immigration, you should first consult an expert lawyer as soon as practicable. However, when drafting a letter of appeal, the thing that must be taken into consideration is how much defence is claimed in the letter. Regardless of whether it is Japan or Australia, once the Department of Immigration has revoked the visa, unless hard facts and evidence are provided, at that stage, it is difficult to overturn the Department’s decision. Once the Department of Immigration makes a decision to cancel the visa, an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal must be filed within seven business days. This time limit must be adhered to. The Tribunal reserves the right to consider all evidence that the Department of Immigration has taken into consideration, regarding the revocation of the visa, and all new materials that have not been submitted to the Department of Immigration and can cancel the visa based on Merit Review for the same reason as the Department of Immigration. Further, in the circumstance that the revocation of the visa by the Department of Immigration is inevitable, it may be necessary to provide the Department of Immigration a minimal amount of defence evidence and submit the rest to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal as new evidence as it will be more likely that they will overturn the visa revocation decision. In other words, rather than the Administrative Appeals Tribunal making a decision based on the exact same materials and evidence that the Department of Immigration has considered, should new evidence be submitted, the previous decision could be overturned. Wouldn’t this be easier? However, the decision is dependent on the new evidence being provided. Additionally, once the visa has been cancelled, the individual will be considered an illegal immigrant and may be detained at a detention centre at any time until a bridging visa is issued. In a similar case, the Department of Immigration was contacted in order to apply for a bridging visa on behalf of the individual whose visa had been revoked. However, he was told that the bridging visa must be applied for at the counter. Later, the lawyer with the individual went to the counter and as soon as he stated, “We came to apply for a bridging visa as the visa was cancelled”, three staff members surrounded the individual and arrested him, sending him to an immigration detention centre. As there are cases such as these, it is best to consult a professional as soon as possible.
Q: I am an office worker and was dispatched from Japan on a 457 visa last year. Just recently, I hit a man whilst under the influence of alcohol and was charged with actual bodily harm. My friend told me that if I were found to be guilty then my visa may be cancelled, is this true? (25-year-old office worker, male) A: Recently, the Department of Immigration has been cancelling visas easily in relation to those kinds of cases. Late last year, the Department of Home Affairs was established with the Department of Immigration alongside the Australian Security Intelligence Agency, Federal Police and Federal Prosecutors apart from the Department, making the Australian federal government’s idea of immigration more focused with regards to security. In this column, the term ‘Department of Immigration’ will be used. Per section 501(2)(a) of the Migration Act (1958), “the Department of Immigration may cancel the visa if the visa holder fails the ‘character test’ as seen in s501(6)”. The visa holder may fail their character test if they commit a serious crime such as murder or terrorism and additionally under s501(6)(c), “the visa holder may be disqualified if considering the past and current criminal acts and past general actions, he or she is considered to not be of Good Character”. Therefore, whether the individual is of Good Character or not is dependent on the discretion of the Department of Immigration. Let us look at the example below. Case A man on a working visa got into a fight with another person and with a knife injured the other person's hand, leaving a 1 cm injury. The individual was charged with Reckless Wounding and was not able to argue that it was out of self-defence. Although Reckless Wounding has a maximum sentence of seven years, the judge stated that there was room for consideration and sentenced him with a $600 fine and a nine -month Good Behaviour Bond which is considered to be a very light sentence. However, for that reason, the individual's visa was revoked for having Bad Character and he was forcibly taken to a Detention Centre. Countermeasures With regard to this individual, if he are found to be guilty, as described above, the visa will most likely be cancelled. Even if found guilty and the visa is revoked, depending on the Department of Immigration’s decision, it may be appealed at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In some cases, the visa cancellation can be nullified.
Consumer Guides issued by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority Registered migration agents are skilled people who must meet professional standards, follow the Code of Conduct and maintain up-to-date knowledge of migration law and procedure. Your agent must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA), which ensures that only suitable persons are registered to provide immigration assistance. To check if a person is registered, visit OMARA’s website. The Code of Conduct ensures that your registered migration agent will: be honest with you about your chances of securing a visa; keep you informed about the progress of your application and any changes that may affect it; be contactable during business hours and tell you if they change their contact details; act within the law, your best interests and protect your privacy; declare any interest they have that may affect your application and not act for you if there is a conflict; provide you with a written statement - before starting work - of the services to be provided, the estimated fees and other costs; charge a reasonable fee and, if you pay in advance, keep this in a separate bank account; provide you with an invoice listing the actual services completed and the amount payable; provide timely and correct advice and tell you in writing about the result of your application as soon as possible Complaints - If you experience a problem with your registered migration agent you should try to resolve it with them. For help, contact OMARA. Making a complaint to OMARA will not affect your visa application. Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) Under Australian law, OMARA: assesses and decides applications for registration as a migration agent; approves continuing professional development activities for agents; monitors the conduct of registered migration agents; and investigates complaints against registered migration agents and will discipline them when appropriate. OMARA cannot help you with your visa application or sponsorship, or order a refund of your fees from your registered migration agent. More information can be found at OMARA's website. Check if a person is registered at www.mara.gov.au.