The Australian Government has issued a FAQ, which includes the following:
Employer sponsored temporary work visas
11. I am a Temporary Skill Shortage visa holder – what should I do if I have be 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.
12. I have lost my job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what are my options?
Those who are laid off (that is, they are unemployed) should find another employer within 60 days or make arrangements to depart Australia, where this is possible.
13. I can’t find another employer what should I do?
Those visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus and who cannot find another employer to sponsor them, should make arrangements to depart Australia.
14. What can I do if I cannot return to my home country?
If you cannot return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid visa and engage with the health system when necessary.
Information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart is available at: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/
I am getting a lot of questions about this. Good questions. Questions that need answers now.
Here is my answer.
Immigration (the Dept of Home Affairs) has not made a policy statement about how they will deal with business sponsors and sponsored-visa-holders should the COVID-19 force (temporary) business closures, working hours reductions, pay cuts or benching.
At this point, my best guess is that Immigration will simply do nothing and look the other way during this crisis. I hope that special arrangements will be made later to smooth out the wrinkles this crisis will cause in people’s plans to apply for their next visa or permanent residence.
If Immigration objects to something you have done, there will be a process to go through before you lose your sponsorship rights or a visa gets cancelled. You will have a chance to state your case. I welcome the opportunity to represent any business owner or visa holder threatened for things beyond their control, consequences of COVID-19.
In business, you have to do what you have to do.
There could be some fallout.
Sometimes you just have to clean it up later.
Stay safe everyone.
I am monitoring announcements by the Australian Government and industry stakeholders and will report on key issues as they arise.
The President of the Migration Institute of Australia has announced:
“The Department is aware that the skilled workers stood down now due to the many forced business closures will need to be re-engaged when those businesses are permitted to reopen.”
“The Government does not want to see temporary visa holders becoming vulnerable within the community and open to exploitation.”
It is good to know that these big issues are under consideration.
The government’s response to questions about the part-timing of jobs, leave without pay, stand-downs and retrenchments is pending. Also pending are answers to questions like ‘How will this effect my eligibility for employer sponsored PR?’ and ‘Will there be unemployment benefits made available to non-Australians?’