This hasn’t been an easy week. Melbourne is back in lockdown, we had a Covid scare in our house, our stovetop isn’t working and on top of everything, my bicycle broke. However, there was some good news amongst all the chaos and that is, my Covid visa has been approved.
Like many internationals living in Australia, I have done the rounds of visas and it is a source of never-ending stress. I came here first on a working holiday and have then transferred to a student one, switching between the most relevant and affordable Cert 3 and Diploma courses. Living in Australia on a student visa in the pandemic has been tough. I have had to continue to fork out for monthly tuition fees despite being unemployed due to lockdowns and I have faced restrictions with the number of hours that I can work.
With my visa coming to an end in July, and it still feeling not like the right time to go home, I figured applying for a new course was my only option. It was just by chance that I stumbled across the Covid visa.
Australian Endorsed Government Events (Covid 19 Pandemic Events) Visa. (Temporary Activity Subclass 408).
I’d met an English guy at a house party who was staying in rural victoria doing farmwork on a covid visa. This was a visa that allowed you to stay in Australia if your current visa had expired and you worked in a specified industry like agriculture. I’d already paid a deposit for my course and was sure my migration agent would have informed me if this was an option for me. Just out of interest, I started to do my research and stumbled across some articles in the news. Specified industries for the 408 visa had been amended to include hospitality. As someone who worked full-time as a barista, surely this meant me? I rang the department of home affairs who said it was judged on a case by case basis and couldn’t help. I had never gone through the lengthy visa application without the help of a migration agent and it was a gamble in case my visa didn’t get approved but I decided to go ahead with the application.
There are a few requirements if you are applying for the 408 visas. These are:
You must be in Australia.
You must have 90 days or less on your current visa or your visa must have expired less than 28 days ago.
You must work in a critical sector and provide evidence of this (agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability, childcare, tourism, hospitality).
Maintain health insurance.
Applications for this visa during the Covid 10 pandemic are FREE.
Applications are a little lengthy. You have to supply many forms of ID, employment details and evidence like a payslip and contract. You also may have to get a police check. Like with any visa application, once your application is submitted and if your current substantive visa runs out, you move on to a bridging visa. This is an in-between visa that lets you extend your stay in the country, however, it’s not a particularly settling visa to be on during a lockdown in a pandemic.
Getting my visa granted
On our first weekend back in lockdown, I was wandering around the market picking up some groceries and I just happened to check my emails. What was attached made my day; my Covid visa had been approved. I could now stay in Australia for a further year and I would no longer be losing a chunk of my wages to student fees. For the first time in a while, I felt a huge sense of freedom. It was a small win in the whole pandemic debacle, but hey, I’ll take it. (Oh and on the broken bicycle situation, I finally treated myself to a brand new one of my very own).