Goodbye Covid Visa

And just like that the visa that was most loved among temporary residents in Australia has come to an end.

It came out more than three years ago to provide an option for those who, in the midst of the pandemic chaos, were unable to return home. Initially, it was a short-term visa with no work rights. It gradually evolved, granting more and more benefits. In May 2021, it became “too good to be true,” offering full-time working rights, no restrictions on hours (unlike Student Visas), and no six-month limit with one employer (unlike Working Holiday Visas). We have always known that it would be removed; the discussion was about the “notice” the department would have given.

However, on August 31st, a statement announced the imminent closure of the ‘Australian Government endorsed events (COVID-19 Pandemic event)’ program, which took place at 23:59 on September 1, 2023.

It is not yet closed for everyone; some people can apply until February 2024. Those who currently hold a Temporary Activity 408 visa expiring within the next 28 days will be saved.

However, the visa will not remain the same, and here are the changes:

  1. The visa will have a duration of six months from the approval date (so it makes sense to apply as late as possible, once the 28-day period begins).
  2. There will be an application fee of $405 (Visa Application Charge) + $700 if the last visa was applied for within Australia.
  3. The work rights benefits will remain unchanged.

This change, especially for those who arrived in Australia in 2020, will not be easy, as it removes a favorable option.

Here is the advice given by Fabio Nocilla, a registered immigration agent (MARN 1801445):

Do not assume that a Student Visa is the only possible alternative.

  • Consider whether there are other options.
  • Question the qualifications of those suggesting there is no other way. Are they education agents (with a particular interest) or immigration agents capable of assessing your situation in your best interests?
  • Explore various pathways, such as sponsorship, training visas, partner visas (even if you’ve been together for less than a year), regional visas, and independent visas. Understand your options and avoid remaining in the limbo of temporary visas. Sometimes, there may be no immediate solution, but ensure that those advising you are acting in your best interests.

Seek advice early in your experience, not last minute.

  • If you inquire about your options in the final 10 or 20 days of your visa, some good options may no longer be available.
  • For example, to get a Partner Visa approved when you cannot yet prove 12 months of a relationship, you need a couple’s registration at the time of application. However, this document takes at least 28 days to be processed. Similarly, for a sponsor, there is almost always a pre-application period of 28 days.

Retrieve the paper records of your Italian or Australian work experiences.

  • Many options open up by demonstrating work experience. Have documents ready such as your payslips, tax statements, and INPS reports.
  • These documents sometimes take a long time to retrieve, but if ready, they can prevent last-minute “parachute visas,” which are no longer cost-effective.

Recognise your qualifications through RPL at the beginning of your experience; it may save you from a Student Visa.

  • Many end up applying for a Student Visa they do not want because they are unaware that they can obtain an Australian qualification based on work experience. This is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), which allows you to obtain a qualification without having to study. Often, for a Skilled Visa or a sponsor, you need a “Highly Relevant Education Title.” The problem is that studying it in Australia requires a Student Visa with limited working hours and high costs. For example, a Chef course lasts two years and costs at least $20,000, a construction course like carpentry or tiling also costs around $20,000 over two years, and a restaurant management course costs $8,000-10,000 and lasts one to one and a half years. However, if you can demonstrate experience through 6-9 months of payslips, reference letters, and, in some cases, videos, you can obtain these qualifications without the need to study, take exams, or pay university fees. The costs are much lower, as most qualifications can be obtained for $2000-$2500. I will provide a PDF with all the qualifications that can be obtained this way and their respective prices as soon as it is available. I hope this information is helpful! Find the pdf here!

Determine whether you need to recognize your degrees.

  • While professional experience can be formalized into a qualification through RPL, it is not possible to have an Australian degree recognized in this way.
  • Regarding those with a degree, there are three options: translation, conversion, and recognition. Not all degrees have these options, or it may not make sense to pursue them.
  • For example, a degree in Economics is very different from a degree in Engineering or Medicine. This article could really help you sort things out: – Degree Recognition, Conversion, or Translation

If you end up with a Student Visa, understand the differences between various courses.


Remember that at Atlas, we offer two types of consultations:

  • Free Infopoint: These are more general, typically lasting about half an hour, and are designed to gather data and all the useful information to be quickly assessed by the immigration agent. They cover general topics (renewal of WHV, Student Visas, general rules about other visas) and are free of charge. Feel free to explain your project/situation at infopoint@atlasmigration.com, and you will be contacted for a free appointment.
  • Consultation with a Migration Agent: If you want to plan for permanent residency, you will need a paid consultation with the immigration agent. You can book it here: https://calendly.com/fabionocilla/consulenza

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