Effective February 2024, this visa will no longer be open to new applicants, marking a significant step in streamlining our visa system. With the circumstances that originally necessitated this visa no longer prevailing, this move ensures the integrity and stability of the immigration processes.
As of September 2, 2023, applications for the Pandemic Event visa will only be accepted from existing Pandemic Event visa holders. All other visa categories will be ineligible for this particular visa, a transitional measure aimed at bolstering visa integrity.
It's important to note that individuals holding a valid Pandemic Event visa will remain lawful until the expiry of their current visa, ensuring their status remains unaffected during this transition period.
This staged closure of the visa aligns with the commitment to better serve the needs of the Australian people. When Labor assumed office, the migration system was marred by backlogs, delays, and extensive waitlists. Since then, the new government has been steadfast in rectifying the situation left by the previous government.
In addition to closing the Pandemic Event visa, the Albanese Government has also recently concluded several pandemic-related measures, such as the removal of unlimited work hours for international students and work exemptions for Working Holiday visa holders. These measures collectively contribute to a controlled Net Overseas Migration, which is steadily rebounding post-pandemic and aiding our return to pre-pandemic population growth levels.
Starting September 2, 2023, new Pandemic Event visa applications will be granted a six-month visa validity, accompanied by a Visa Application Charge of $405 AUD. These adjustments are designed to ensure that the visa is utilized exclusively by those individuals who genuinely need to reside in and contribute to Australia.
For Pandemic Event visa holders contemplating different visa options, it will be essential to meet the specific criteria of the intended visa category. For those without alternative visa avenues, it is expected that they will depart Australia when their current visa expires.
In the words of Minister Giles, "The Pandemic Event visa played a crucial role in Australia's immigration landscape during the pandemic. Many temporary visa holders made invaluable contributions during this challenging period. We are now offering an opportunity for Pandemic Event visa holders to explore alternative visa pathways or make departure plans."
He further emphasized, "Under the previous administration, our migration system was in disarray, lacking a clear strategy for reopening borders. We have significantly reduced wait times and are committed to ensuring our migration system works effectively for all Australians, following a decade of turbulence and mismanagement under the former government."