This page last updated on 16/10/20

More information

What do the changes mean?

People on temporary visas will not usually qualify for JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments. There are a number of affected groups including international students, temporary workers and family visitors.

Many people will be left in a very difficult situation with no income support at all.

What do you differently?

Financial counsellors have previously assisted temporary visa holders in financial difficulty. The change now will be that many more people will be affected.

Do check payment eligibility for Centrelink as changes are regularly being made to Government Assistance during the pandemic. Note: New Zealand residents may qualify for JobKeeper payments.

Option: Return home (may not be possible)

There is a travel ban on all Australians. There is no travel ban for people who are not Australians. It may be possible for some people to leave Australia and return home. The Government is encouraging people without family support to return to their home country.

Temporary visa holders who are unable to leave Australia still need to apply for a visa if their visa is due to expire. See COVID-19 and the border.

Option: Seek ongoing help from family or friends

This help could be:

  • Money sent from overseas
  • Staying with friends or relatives

The Government is encouraging students to rely on family support and their own savings.

Option: Access emergency assistance

Specific assistance for temporary visa holders

The Federal Government has committed funds to the Red Cross to assist temporary visa holders. Eligibility criteria for Red Cross Safety Net is that people:

  • Are in Australia on a temporary visa

  • Are in urgent financial hardship

  • Cannot access Centrelink, Medicare or similar services

  • Have no income, savings or other financial support (including from family overseas)

There is more information, including information about how to apply, here.

Emergency assistance

Temporary visa holders can also try to access emergency relief. Some providers of emergency assistance limit help to citizens and/or permanent residents. You will need to check with the local provider.

It is hoped that some will exercise discretion. That discretion may be governed by their funding agreement. However, some emergency assistance providers may be large religious organisations that can offer some assistance from their charitable donations.

International students

They should check with their university whether it provides any assistance.


They should check with migrant resource centres for other assistance that may be available.

Option: Find employment

The unemployment rate has increased sharply so finding a job may be difficult. Some businesses have seen an increase in demand which means some jobs are still available.

Option: Early access to super

Temporary Residents are not eligible to apply for COVID-19 early release of super in the 2020-21 financial year. If your client has worked and earned super while visiting Australia on a temporary visa, they can apply to have this super paid to them as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) after they leave. More information about eligibility and how to apply here.

State and Territory support

Australian Capital Territory

Assistance has been announced for Temporary Visa Holders and international students living in the A.C.T. Further funding has been provided to the ACT Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian (RASH) Coordination Committee, the Australian Red Cross and local tertiary institutions.

New South Wales

There is assistance for international students in NSW including assistance with accommodation. More information about eligibility and to apply here.

The NSW Government is providing $2 million dollars in funding to specialist migrant and settlement non-government organisations and multicultural community organisations to give direct emergency relief to vulnerable temporary visa holders who are not eligible for Commonwealth Government income support during COVID-19. An additional $2 million daollars inn funding is being provided for organisations to provide other culturally appropriate services.

Details and other assistance available can be accessed by calling the NSW Government COVID-19 hotline 13 77 88 or at Service NSW.

Northern Territory residents

A Worker and wellbeing fund is available for people who have lost their job or have reduced income because of COVID-19 and are not already receiving financial support, including Centrelink.

The Red Cross has also partnered with Melaleuca Refugee Centre to provide emergency financial support for international students and Visa holders. Contact Red Cross on 0403 987 018.


Qld has announced financial support for international students. Details and eligibility requirements are available at Study Queensland.

South Australia

The South Australian Government has announced the International Student Support Package which includes extra funding for universities (in SA) and emergency crash grants of $500.


Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants are available for temporary visa holders residing in Tasmania who can demonstrate genuine financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. There is no requirement for temporary visa holders to be in self-isolation or quarantine to be eligible.

The grant is a one-off payment of $250 per adult and $125 per child to a maximum of $1,000 per household. There is more information here for temporary visa holders, including about emergency relief.


The Victorian Government has announced assistance for international students in Victoria. Students with a demonstrated loss of income can get a payment of up to $1100.

The Victorian Government is also providing one-off rent relief grants, utility relief grants, help to find work opportunities and other support including legal advice.

Further information and how to apply here.

Western Australia

The Western Australian government has launched StudyPerth Crisis Relief for international students. It will assist students to access emergency accommodation, supplies and healthcare.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for financial counsellors only. It is general information only. Financial counsellors must still tailor advice to their client’s individual circumstances. 

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FCA sincerely thanks Kat Lane. Liz Minter and Melinda Rene for their outstanding work in putting this site together.