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  • Writer's pictureElan Rysher

Visitor visa with work rights - is it possible?

Updated: May 27, 2020

Australia is a tourist magnet. Our beaches, cities and the marvelous nature attract millions each year. 8.7 million visitors in 2019 to be precise. But what happens when a global pandemic shuts down international travel and tourists can't get in? Worse yet, what if they can't get out?

Tourist whose flight has been cancelled, sitting on luggage at Sydney airport
Thousands of tourists are unable to return home

Locked down, Down Under

Most international airlines cancelled flights from and to Australia after the Government announced strict travel restrictions. Some people managed to leave but many are still stuck onshore. As at the end of March 2020, there were still over 200,000 tourists trapped in Australia.

Having your dream holiday wrecked by Covid-19 is disappointing enough. What makes matters even worse for many tourists currently down under is that their visas are about to expire. They are also running out of money for living expenses. The risk of becoming unlawful and going broke is very real.

What can be done about it?

If you are stuck in Australia and unable to leave, a few visa solutions may be available to you. One little known option is the Visitor visa (Subclass 600) with work rights. Yes, you read it correctly. Let me explain.

Visa holders in Australia can work if their visa grant letter doesn't say 'No Work'. Most Visitor visas prohibit work (Condition 8101). That's because the Government expects tourists to have enough money to pay for their holiday.

Tourist leaving Sydney airport after flight home is cancelled
Financial hardship is a common problem

You cannot change or remove the Conditions on your existing visa. However, in some circumstances, you can apply for a Visitor visa which will not have Condition 8101, therefore allowing work. How? Well, there are a few requirements that you will need to satisfy:

Apply for a Visitor visa under the Tourist stream

Applications in other streams (e.g. Sponsored Family stream) will not receive work rights. You will need to satisfy all the typical requirements of Visitor visa applications. That includes health checks (where applicable) and being a genuine temporary visitor.

Be in Australia and unable to leave for reasons beyond your control

You need to show that you have done everything in your power to get back home. For example, asking your embassy or consulate for help.

Your circumstances have changed

You are asking for work rights because something happened since arriving in Australia. If all flights to your country have been cancelled, you are likely to meet this requirement. Your reasons can be related to an immediate family member.

Tourist in Australia working as a delivery man
Visitor visas can be granted with working rights

You are suffering financial hardship

Your financial strain must be due to the change in your circumstances. Saying that you are broke is not sufficient. You will need to demonstrate this with supporting evidence.

You have compelling personal reasons to work

That usually means having no other option but to work due to no fault of your own. You will need to show that you are a victim of unforeseen circumstances and no one can help you.

You are likely to cost the Government money

If you are stuck onshore, unable to leave and not permitted to work, you are probably going to become a financial burden on the Government, one way or another. There are a few ways to show this, depending on your situation.

Things to take into account

There are 3 potential outcomes for this type of application:

  • Visa grant with work rights

  • Visa grant without work rights

  • Visa application refusal

Usually, Visitor visas which are granted with work rights will not allow the holder leave and return on the same visa. That is because the main criterion of the application is being unable to leave.

Tourist in Australia working in a farm
There are plenty of casual farm hand jobs in Australia

The pros

You are not required to actually have a job offer or demonstrate your skills. If you meet the requirements of the application, that is sufficient. Applicants who are granted work rights will receive a refund of the Visa Application Charge.

The cons

You will only be allowed to work if and when your visa is granted with work rights. Studying for longer than 3 months is not permitted. You might also be prevented from lodging a further visa application whilst onshore.

Is this the right visa for you?

The Covid-19 crisis is affecting the lives of people around the world. Particularly vulnerable are those who are stuck overseas and unable to return home. Visitor visas with work rights is one of a few of visa options available to tourists who are waiting for international travel to resume.

Before you jump onto ImmiAccount, weigh up your options carefully. Make sure you can meet the eligibility criteria and provide plenty of supporting evidence. Seek advice from an experienced Migration Agent before deciding how to proceed.

Have any questions? Post them below! (or send us a message)


Information (or the lack of it) contained in ImmiUpdates should not be relied on as immigration assistance or advice. ImmiUpdates expressly disclaim any liability, arising at law, in equity or otherwise, for any information published or not published in past, the present or future editions of the blog. People seeking immigration assistance should seek advice from a registered migration agent and those seeking legal advice should consult a lawyer. The copyright in the newsletter belongs to Rysher Migration Services and no part of the blog is to be reproduced by any means without the written consent of Rysher Migration Services.


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