In a significant move aimed at streamlining Australia’s visa system and ensuring its alignment with current circumstances, the Federal Government has declared the imminent closure of the Pandemic Event visa.
This decision, effective from February 2024, is driven by the resolution of the conditions that led to the establishment of the visa.
As of September 2, 2023, the Pandemic Event visa will only accept applications from existing Pandemic Event visa holders, marking a transition period to safeguard visa integrity. This transitional measure ensures that the visa system remains robust and serves the genuine needs of the Australian population.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, highlighted the importance of the Pandemic Event visa during the pandemic, acknowledging the significant contributions made by individuals on temporary visas during the crisis.
“We’re providing an opportunity for people who hold a Pandemic Event visa to explore another visa option, or plan to leave Australia.”
Giles also stressed the government’s dedication to reforming the migration system, which had been fraught with inefficiencies and lack of planning. The current efforts are geared towards making the migration system functional, efficient, and responsive to the evolving needs of Australians.
The staged closure of the Pandemic Event visa is part of a broader effort by the federal government to address the complexities inherited from the previous administration. This proactive approach to cleaning up the system is in line with the government’s commitment to creating a more efficient migration process that benefits both the nation and its diverse residents.
Recent changes in pandemic-related measures have also contributed to the decision to close the Pandemic Event visa. Removing specific pandemic-related provisions, such as unlimited work hours for international students and work exemptions for Working Holiday visa holders, has not only streamlined the system but also exerted downward pressure on Net Overseas Migration. This realignment supports the goal of returning to pre-pandemic levels of population growth.
From September 2, 2023, new applications for the Pandemic Event visa will be granted for a duration of six months. Alongside this adjustment, a Visa Application Charge of $405 AUD will be introduced, further ensuring that the visa is utilised by individuals with a genuine need to contribute to and remain in Australia.
Current Pandemic Event visa holders seeking to apply for alternative visas will need to adhere to the eligibility criteria specific to those visas, for those who are left without viable options for alternative visa applications, departing Australia upon the expiry of their current visa is expected.
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