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When visa-sponsored employees end employment

The COVID-19 virus is causing chaos for our families, jobs and businesses in Australia. Some employers, forced to close their doors temporarily, face difficult decisions on employees. Employers with visa-sponsored workers also need to be careful about their obligations and how their decisions will affect sponsored staff.

Under the current law, Working Holiday visa holders and temporary visa holders cannot access federal government benefits if they lost their job. The Migration Institute of Australia is now in discussions with Home Affairs and the Acting Minister for Immigration Tudge on measures to protect these people. Home Affairs is working with the Health and Social Security departments to develop strategies to protect this vulnerable group. The Migration Institute of Australia is also lobbying for a new COVID19-specific fee-free visa, which would mean holders have work rights and access to Medicare for the duration of this global emergency. We will advise as soon as we receive the outcomes of these discussions.

The Migration Institute of Australia has raised the issue of sponsoring employer obligations with Home Affairs. The immigration department is aware that sponsored employees without work due to forced business closures will need to be re-engaged when those businesses are permitted to reopen.

Workers holding a 457, 482 or 494 employer-sponsored visa will breach their visa conditions if they are not employed by their sponsoring employer for a period longer than 60 or 90 days, depending on the visa. There is also the problem they cannot work for another employer unless the new employer nominates them. If employers end employment of their sponsored staff, they have 28 days to notify Home Affairs. There is the option of paid leave in the short-term with the hope things will improve soon.

Employees holding a 187 employer-sponsored visa risk having their visa cancelled if they do not work in a regional location for two years from date of visa grant. Employers should notify Home Affairs as soon as possible if they end employment of a 186 or 187 sponsored employee. There is also the paid-leave short term option for this group.

For employers with staff that hold a student visa, Working Holiday visa or bridging visa, there are no notification requirements for these employees if their employment ends.

Visa holders and employers must remain lawful during this crisis. If you are not sure how to comply, contact us now for help on 07 5591 5099. We will keep you updated, when we receive any new information. Stay safe. We will get through this.


Author: Sed Crest

Date: 30 March 2020