Travel Ban: Visa Application Charge Refunds & Waivers Announced
Since its release earlier this week, Australia's 2020-21 budget has triggered heated public debate. As Australia emerges from the pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison describes it as one of the most important since World War II.
Earlier this week, we discussed changes to the Partner visa program. This post deals with plans to wave and refund Visa Application Charges to migrants who are affected by the Covid-19 travel restrictions.
According to the Budget Papers, Visa Application Charge (VAC) refunds and waivers will be available to current visa holders who are unable to travel until the border reopens.
The following visa subclass holders will be able to access VAC refunds:
Prospective Marriage (subclass 300)
Working Holiday (subclass 417)
Work & Holiday (subclass 462) - if the holder chooses to not reapply once the border reopens
Pacific Labour & Seasonal Workers (subclass 403)
Temporary skilled workers, Visitor visa holders and Working Holiday Makers will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted.
The measures represent a clear message from the Australian Government that it regards migrants as an integral part of Australia's economic recovery from the pandemic. It will cost $270,000,000 in lost charges to fund the waivers and refunds scheme.
Migrants should be aware that these measures are not yet in effect. The Government will need to draft and implement new legislation before they are available. The processes to obtain refunds and waivers in these circumstances are yet to be established.
The wording of the Budget Paper leaves a few questions unanswered, such as the meaning of 'current visa holders.' Many visa holders who are currently stuck overseas will re-apply for their visas after their existing visa will have already expired. The legislation will need to address this issue.
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