COVID visa gets scrapped

THE Australian Government has announced that its COVID-era visa will be discontinued from February 2024. The subclass 408 visa, which was introduced in 2020 to help international students who were stranded in Australia during the pandemic, has already stopped accepting new applicants as of 02 September.

The move will “provide certainty to our visa system now that the circumstances that drove the operation of the visa no longer exist”, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil and Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said in a joint statement.

“The Pandemic Event visa was an important part of Australia’s visa system during the pandemic. Many people on temporary visas helped Australia during this period,” Giles commented.

“We’re providing an opportunity for people who hold a Pandemic Event visa to explore another visa option, or plan to leave Australia,” he added. Existing visa holders will be able to apply for a six-month extension at a cost of $305.

At the same time, the government has also brought back limits on the number of hours that international students can work, restricted to 48 hours per fortnight as of 01 July, in addition to scrapping work exemptions for Working Holiday Visa holders.

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