Temporary visa holders in Australia who can’t support themselves during the coronavirus crisis are being urged to go home.
The Federal Government has announced changes to some visas which will see some people allowed to stay longer, while others may be forced to leave.
Some visa holders will also be allowed to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation that they’ve accrued while working in Australia.
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People on temporary skilled visas who have been stood down or had their hours reduced will have no changes to their visa.
But those who have been laid off will have to find a new employer to sponsor them within 60 days or will have to leave.
New Zealanders in Australia on 444 visas are also being advised to consider going home if they can’t support themselves.
They’ve been given access to the recently announced Job Keeper allowance, but have been excluded from the Job Seeker payment.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge says there’s no plans to change that.
“So if there is a New Zealander in the country who is unable to access those Job Seeker payments, then again we ask them to consider returning to New Zealand where they will be able to get the support they need,” Mr Tudge said.
“Australians and permanent residents are our primary focus, they’re our primary focus for the work which is available and the welfare that we are making available.”
Mr Tudge said there has always been an expectation that temporary visa holders are able to support themselves while in Australia, and that expectation remains.
“We are going to make that easier for people who have already done some work in Australia by allowing them to access their super while they’re in Australia to help facilitate their stay here if they’re in financial hardship.
“But if you can’t support yourself generally, having put in place these measures, then you should be going home where you can get that support.”
The Government has announced foreign nationals working in critical industries including health and education will be allowed to stay longer.
People in Australia on working holiday visas, typically backpackers, will also be given greater flexibility.
Those working in areas such as childcare, farm work and food processing will be able to work for the same employer for more than the current six-month limit.
They will also have their visas extended by a year if they wish to remain in Australia.
International students are being encouraged to rely on family support and savings to get themselves through the crisis, while students in their second and subsequent years will be able to access any superannuation they’ve accumulated through part-time work.
“They have been a terrific contributor to Australia, supporting Australian jobs, we want them to stay here where they can support themselves.
“We are providing additional flexibility for them to support themselves and we continue to work with the international education sector on future arrangements as well.”