This page last updated on 27/01/2021
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 do 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.
Do check eligibility for Federal and State Government emergency assistance available for Temporary Visa Holders e.g. the Red Cross Safety Net (more information about this below)
If your client wants to return home but doesn't have the funds to do so then do check their eligibility for the Australian Government - Assisted Returns Program (more information about this below).
Option: Return home (may not be possible)
There is a travel ban on all Australians. Australians must apply to the Government to travel overseas. 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.
Assisted Returns Program
The Australian Government - Department of Home Affairs may be able to provide eligible temporary visa holders with financial assistance to leave Australia voluntarily and return home under the Assisted Returns Program.
Your client might be able to get assistance to return home if they:
are living in Australia on a bridging visa or another type of temporary visa
are living in Australia without a visa or their visa has expired
arrived by boat or plane without a valid visa
More information about eligibility and how to apply here.
Temporary visa holders who want to remain in Australia or 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.
Temporary visa holders can also try to access emergency relief. Some providers of emergency assistance limit help to citizens and/or permanent residents. You or your client will need to check with the local provider.
It is hoped that some will use discretion and assist. That discretion may be governed by their funding agreement. However, some emergency assistance providers may be large religious organisations, or other charity organisations, that can offer some assistance from their charitable donations.
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 as a result of the pandemic 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 dollars in 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.
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.
The Western Australian government has launched StudyPerth Crisis Relief for international students. It will assist students to access emergency accommodation, supplies and healthcare.