Covid-19 Visa for Australia (Subclass 408)

by IDP IELTS — August 2nd, 2020

The Covid-19 Visa for Australia falls under the Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408). It allows you to remain in Australia to continue your work in critical sectors. This includes agriculture, food processing, health care and aged care. But also disability care or child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical professionals can commence work in the healthcare sector with this visa.

If your stay in Australia was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, you may benefit from this visa. Since it’s a new arrangement, you may want to know something more about this new visa and check whether you qualify for it. We’ve listed the main official criteria. But, always make sure to check with the Department of Home Affairs as the situation may change quickly.

If you have no other visa options and are unable to depart Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, this visa lets you remain in Australia. You can also include family members on this visa. If you have a COVID-19 Pandemic visa, work rights will be limited to those continue working in a critical sectors such as:

  • agriculture
  • health care
  • aged care
  • disability care
  • child care

IELTS during Covid-19

The majority of our Australian IELTS test centres have commenced testing again. Please note these test centres will operate in a restricted manner, ensuring that all Covid-19 requirements are being met. Read more about what to expect on test day here.

Please check your test centres calendar for the next available tests in July and August.

Frequently asked questions for subclass 408 (Covid-19 Pandemic)

I currently hold a visitor visa or other visa without work rights. Can I apply for the Subclass 408 instead of another visitor visa?

One of the criteria for the Covid-19 visa (subclass 408) is that you “must seek to remain in Australia to undertake work directly associated with the Covid-19 pandemic”. So, if you apply for the Covid-19 visa but you currently have a visa without work rights, it you should accompany the application with strong evidence that:

  • You either have a skill set highly relevant to a critical sector or
  • That you have a critical sector employer actively willing to engage you on visa grant
My current work visa expires soon (or has already expired). Should I apply for the 408 visa instead of a Visitor visa?

Visitor visas don’t allow you to work. So, applying for the Covid-19 visa (Subclass 408 ) could be a better option. However, a criteria for the Covid-19 subclass is that you “must seek to remain in Australia to undertake work directly associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.” Also have a look at the previous question.

How long you can stay on a Subclass 408 Covid-19 visa?

This is a special visa. HOwever, it allows multiple entries. Yet, you need to be aware of travel restrictions that are in place. See COVID-19 and the border.

The Department may grant you this visa for the duration of the event or up to 4 years. You can travel to and from Australia as many times as you want while the visa is valid and travel restrictions are not in place. If you apply in Australia, the visa starts the day we grant it. If you apply outside Australia, the visa stay period starts the day you enter Australia on the visa. Generally, your visa grant letter will tell you how long you can stay.

Which are critical sectors for the Covid-19 visa?

Critical sectors as highlighted in the Covid-19 pandemic visa include agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, and childcare. So, if you work in one of these sectors but don’t qualify for any other visa and and you can’t return to you home country can apply for the Covid-19 pandemic event visa.

Also, if you are a seasonal worker visa holders and your visa expires within 28 days you may be eligible for the Covid-19 visa. However, if you work in critical sectors and applying for the Covid-19 visa, you must provide evidence of work when submitting the visa application.

Do I need an IELTS test for my Covid-19 visa?

There are a number of requirements for this visa. You can check all of them here. But, it does not look like you need an English language proficiency test to qualify for this visa. Most other visas do require this (you can check your options for IELTS in Australia).


Moving to Australia

Student and Covid-19 Visa

The Australian Government takes a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 restrictions have prevented conditions being met, such as attendance at class or use of online learning.

Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a Student visa. So, you need to apply for a new visa if:

  • you cannot return to your home country and your visa is expiring, or
  • if you need more time in Australia to complete your course

You should apply for a new Student visa six weeks before your existing Student visa expires. There is no need to provide evidence of impacts of COVID-19 with your Student visa application.

So, if your study in Australia is ending, you can apply for a Visitor visa (subclass 600). You need to do this before your Student visa expires. For more information, see Staying in Australia.

Staying in Australia for study?

Are you looking to stay in Australia for education purposes? An Australian Student Visa (subclass) is your starting point. Generally, you can apply for a student visa by enrolling in:

  • English Courses
  • Vocational Courses
  • University Courses

Get free international student support

What can you do on a Student Visa?

Study and Work in Australia

Most student visas allow you to work for up to 40 hours every two weeks. This only applies while your course is in session. When you’re on holidays from your studies, you can work unlimited hours. If you do a Masters by research or doctorate, you can also work unlimited hours. Check your visa conditions for more information.

Stay long-term

A student visa will let you stay in Australia during your studies. So, you can stay in Australia as long as you are studying. Some university degrees can be 5-years long. If you want to stay after your studies, check Moving to Australia.


On a student visa, you can travel in and out of Australia as many times as you want. This is great if you want to return home during the holidays to visit friends and family.

Obtain an Australian diploma

The real benefit of studying in Australia is getting a world-class education. By studying here, you can obtain an internationally recognised Diploma, Bachelor Degree or Master’s Degree. Or you can undertake a research qualification and get your PhD. Around the world, people recognise the high standards of Australian qualifications. So, an Australian education may be your ticket to a work visas. It may also let you remain in Australia as a Permanent Resident.

Post-Graduate visa

The Australian Government introduced a post-study work visa in 2013. It allows some international students completing an Australian degree to remain here. As a result, you can gain work experience after you graduate. Graduates of a bachelor and masters by coursework degree can apply for a two-year work visa. This increases to three years for masters by research graduates. PhD graduates can stay for four years. Read more about moving to Australia.

Include a partner a family member

You can include your family members and/or your partner with your student visa. This means that your family can join you in Australia while you study.

8 easy steps to get your Australian Student Visa

Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration changes frequently. It’s important to check the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for changes that may apply to you. If you are interested in Australian student visas, work visas, or looking to migrate permanently, you need to lodge an application with the Australian Government. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent. However, you can also get free advice for student visas.