FAQ

PANDEMIC EVENT VISA FAQ
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COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ’s – Seasonal Visa Holders (Subclass 403)

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ's - Seasonal Visa Holders (Subclass 403)

What are the options for Seasonal Visa Holders (Subclass 403)?
  • Seasonal visa holders and Pacific workers whose visas are expiring can apply for a further visa to allow them to stay in Australia and support the agriculture sector.
  • Seasonal Worker Programme workers with visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream. (COVID-19) pandemic event if you are already in Australia; have ongoing work in a critical sector; are not eligible for a further visa and are unable to return to your home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions.
  • Pacific Labour Scheme workers with visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream visa.
  • You are exempted from the government’s requirement to work for a single employer and be able to move between approved employers during COVID-19.
  • If you cannot meet your immediate living expenses then you can access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year.

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ’s – (Subclass 482) TSS work visa

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ's – (Subclass 482) TSS work visa

What should I do if I am on a TSS visa and have been stood down or my hours are reduced?
Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa conditions or the business being in breach of their employer obligations.
What are my options if I have lost my job and am on a TSS visa?
If you are on TSS Visa and have lost your job you have the following options:
  • Those who are laid off should find another employer within 60 days or make arrangements to depart Australia, where this is possible.
  • Those who have been laid off and who cannot find another employer to sponsor them should make arrangements to depart Australia.
  • If you cannot return to your home country you need to apply for another visa to maintain lawful residence in Australia.
  • Where you have been stood down by your employer or had your hours reduced but remain employed, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year.

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ’s – International Students

Subclass 500 - Student Visa Holders - COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ's

Will student visa holders be in breach of visa conditions if they are unable to attend face to face classes due to COVID-19?
Universities and educational institutions have moved from face to face to online learning.  Most universities and educational institutions will not require international students to be in Australia while online learning is permitted. Student visa holders will not be in breach of their student visa conditions due to the move to online learning.
What are the additional employment opportunities available to student visa holders due to COVID-19?
The Government has temporarily relaxed the enforcement of the 40-hour a fortnight work limitation in some critical sectors. The arrangements only apply to  international students who are in existing roles in the sectors listed below:
  • employed in the health sector, enrolled in a health related course (such as nursing or medicine) and are directed by a health official to assist in the effort against COVID-19
  • employed in aged care by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider
  • employed by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider
  • employed by registered supermarkets (this temporary measure ceased on 1 May 2020 for supermarkets).
What are the options for the students who are unable to support themselves?
International students are encouraged to rely on family support, part-time work where available and their own savings to sustain themselves in Australia. If they are unable to support themselves then they:
  • should make arrangements to return to their usual country of residence, noting that it is a condition of all student visas that holders have access to funds to support themselves in Australia.
  • If they have held a student visa for 12 months or longer and cannot meet their immediate living expenses, they can access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year.
  • State/territory governments have also announced emergency funds to support international students during the pandemic.

Which English tests are accepted by the Department of Home Affairs?

The DHA accepts scores from the following English tests:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT)
  • The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE)
  • Occupational English Test (OET)
  • Cambridge Advanced

How are the English tests administered?

IELTSPaper Test
TOEFLPaper/ online (TOEFL ibt internet version)
PTE AcademicComputer
OETPaper Test
Cambridge Advanced (CAE)Computer or paper-based

How are scores awarded for the English tests?

IELTSIELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores in a consistent manner. You receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and an Overall Band Score on a band scale from one to nine.
TOEFLAn overall score out of 120 (each paper is marked out of 30).
PTE AcademicThe range for the overall score is 10-90 points.
OETGraded A (highest) to E (lowest) for each sub-test.
Cambridge (CAE)The range for the overall score is 180-210 points.

How long does it take for the English test results to be published?

IELTSYour Test Report Form will be posted to you 13 calendar days after your test date. All test centres will post your Test Report Form to you. Keep your Test Report Form in a secure place as you only receive one copy. Some test centres provide SMS alerts and an online results service.
TOEFLYour scores will be posted electronically only, unless you request a paper copy by selecting that option when you register which can take 10 days after your test date.
PTE AcademicPTE Academic delivers results in five business days
OETResults are published online approximately 15 business days after the test
Cambridge (CAE)Your Statement of Results is released online, approximately four to six weeks after the exam for paper-based exams, and two to three weeks after the exam for computer-based exams.

How long are the English test results valid for?

Tests conducted up to 3 years prior to lodgement of an application will be accepted by the Department of Home Affairs. The only exception to this is for functional English – this requires testing to have been done at most 12 months before lodgement.

What are the points awarded for English language skills for general skilled visas?

PointsLevel of English
No points awardedCompetent
10 PointsProficient
20 PointsSuperior

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ’s – Working Holiday Visa holders

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ's – Working Holiday Visa holders

What are my options if I am a working holiday visa holder working in the critical sectors?
The Government is providing flexible arrangements for Working Holiday visa holders working in the critical sectors of agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care.
  • Working holiday visa holders working in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer and will also be eligible for a further visa to continue working in these sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
  • If a Working holiday visa holders is working in the critical sectors but is not eligible for a further visa and is unable to return to their home country, they can apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa.
  • Working holiday visa holders who are applying for this visa to work or continue working in a critical sector must have evidence from their employer that they have ongoing work that an Australian citizen or permanent resident cannot do.
What are my options if I am a working holiday visa holder not working in the critical sectors?
  • You can return back to your native country if you are in a difficult position to support yourself.
  • If you are unable to travel back and cannot meet your immediate living expenses, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year.
  • Apply for a further WHM visa if you have undertaken specified work for three months on your first WHM visa or six months on your second WHM visa.
  • You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful until a decision is made on your visa application.
Please note the following:
  • Critical sector, like health care, cannot be classified as ‘specified work’ for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa. Also, work undertaken on the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa does not count as specified work for the purpose of applying for a second or third WHM visa
  • It is not possible to extend the validity your WHM visa if you have had to leave Australia during the specified work tenure and you wish to return to Australia in the future, you will need to apply and meet the requirements for an appropriate visa.
  • You can only be granted a Temporary Activity (Subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) visa (COVID-19) pandemic event if you are already in Australia; have ongoing work in a critical sector; are not eligible for a further visa and are unable to return to your home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions.

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ’s – New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV) Holders

COVID-19 Pandemic FAQ's - New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV) Holders

New Zealanders and Australians have reciprocal arrangements which permit them to stay and work in each other’s countries.
Can New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV) holders access any support in Australia?
If you are a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and meet other eligibility requirements, you will be eligible for all welfare payments, including the Job Seeker and Job Keeper payments. A person is a protected SCV New Zealand citizen holder if they fall within one of the following groups:
  • in Australia on 26 February 2001
  • in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before this date
  • assessed as a protected SCV by Services Australia holder before 26 February 2004.
If you are not a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and you hold a SCV 444 visa, you will still be eligible for the Job Keeper payments through your employer.
Can New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV) access their Australian superannuation?
Under recently announced measures, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation tax-free in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

What are the English language requirements for Australian visas?

In order, to apply for general skilled, employer sponsored, business or student visas, applicants need to demonstrate that they have the required English language ability.

Depending on the visa you are applying for, you can prove that your English language ability through one of the following means:

  • Providing evidence that you have studied in English for at least five years in one or more of the following countries: Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, South Africa, or the Republic of Ireland
  • Providing evidence of being enrolled by your education provider
  • Providing evidence of having passed an approved English language test.

When and where can you appear for the English tests?

IELTSUp to 48 times a year in over 900 locations in 130 countries worldwide.
TOEFLUp to 50 times a year in 9,000 test locations in 130 countries
PTE AcademicUp to 363 times a year in over 200 locations worldwide.
OETUp to 10 times a year in 30 countries
Cambridge Advanced (CAE)Up to 3 times per month in 130 countries

How many components are there in the English tests?

IELTS has four componentsTOEFL has four componentsPTE Academic has three main partsOET has four componentsCambridge (CAE) has four components
Listening: (30 minutes)Reading: (60 – 100 minutes)Speaking and writing: (77- 93 minutes)Reading: (60 minutes)Reading and Use of English: (1 hour 30 minutes)
Reading: (60 minutes)Listening: (60 – 90 minutes)Reading: (32- 41 minutes)Listening: (50 minutes)Writing: (1 hour 30 minutes)
Writing: (60 minutes)Speaking: (60 – 100 minutes)Listening: (45 – 57 minutes)Speaking: (20 minutes)Listening: (about 40 minutes)
Speaking: (11–14 minutes)Writing: (50 minutes)Writing: (45 minutes)Speaking: (15 minutes per pair of candidates)
Total test time: 2 hours 45 minutesTotal test time: 4 hours 30 minutesTotal test time: 3 hours 50 minutesTotal test time: 3 hours and 55 minutes

What are the costs of the English tests in Australia?

IELTSAU$ 340 + $34 (GST if applicable)
TOEFLUS$300
PTE AcademicAU$ 340 (Inclusive of GST)
OETAU$587.00
Cambridge Advanced (CAE)AU$ 320

What are the equivalent English test scores accepted by the Department of Home Affairs?

English Language proficiency levelIELTSTOEFL iBTPTE AcademicOETCambridge (CAE)
Vocational5.0Listening & Reading 4.0
Writing & Speaking 14
36B154
Competent6.0Listening: 12 Reading: 13
Writing: 21 Speaking: 18
50B169
Proficient (for points tested
Skilled visas)
7.0Listening & Reading: 24
Writing: 27 Speaking: 23
65B185
Superior (for points tested
Skilled visas)
8.0Listening: 28 Reading: 29
Writing: 30 Speaking: 26
79A200

What is the level of English required for different visas?

You will need to show at least competent level of English for most general skilled and employer sponsored visas. You will need to how vocational/competent English for most business visas. You do not have to demonstrate your English language ability if you are applying for any type of family visa.

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