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We understand that in these uncertain times it may be difficult for clients to attend our office for a consultation about their visa queries. That’s why we have now introduced the option for video consultations with our clients via Zoom, Skype, or any video platform of your choice.
It’s a really simple process. Call our office as you normally would do on (03) 9640 0600 to make an appointment. From there, we will contact you via email with links to the online platform we’ll use to have our appointment.
We are here to help our clients in any way we can.
You can now book your own appointments online and we also offer the option of a telephone or video interview if you do not wish to come to our office.
For the immediate short term, given the COVID – 19 outbreak and the need to minimize close contact, we ask clients to book a telephone or video appointments.
There are many temporary visa holders and Bridging Visa B holders that travelled overseas prior to the travel and re-entry restrictions came into force and these people are now stuck overseas and cannot return to Australia. Many have jobs and families to return to as well as ongoing studies.
The Australian Government has announced that from 21:00hrs on 20 March 2020 only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia. “Residents” has been interpreted to mean “permanent residents”.
The advice from the department so far, is that holders of BVB’s or any other visas which have or will expire will need to apply for another visa to re enter Australia. There is no consideration being given to extending these visas to enable people to return to Australia. Consequently, anyone caught up in this situation will need to lodge a Visitor visa but it remains to be seen how the department will handle such applications once the travel restrictions to Australia have been eased.
We are here to help anyone caught up in this unfortunate situation.
The following programs have been made available for workers in Victoria who are unable to access other forms of Victorian Government and Commonwealth Government income support:
Support for job seekers The Victorian Government has established the Working for Victoria initiative to help jobseekers find new opportunities. Temporary migrants who have Australian working rights are eligible and encouraged to register. For further information or to register, please visit https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria. The Migrant Workers Centre can also assist to address problems encountered at workplaces and provide advice on migrant workers’ rights and available supports. The Migrant Workers Centre is staffed from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and can be contacted by 03 9659 3516.
Extreme Hardship Support Program
The Extreme Hardship Support program is providing emergency financial assistance, information and referrals to people who cannot access Commonwealth income support or the International Student Emergency Relief Fund. It assists the most vulnerable temporary and provisional visa holders, including undocumented migrants, who have no or very limited savings, income and community support. People experiencing financial hardship can apply via the Red Cross website. More information is available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/financial-support-coronavirus-covid-19#extreme-hardship-support-program.
Support for international students
The Victorian Government has announced a $45 million International Student Emergency Relief Fund for international students facing financial hardship because of coronavirus. For more information, please visit Study Melbourne’s website: https://www.studymelbourne.vic.gov.au/help-and-support/support-for-students-coronavirus/international-student-emergency-relief-fund
Coronavirus (COVID-19) rent relief grant
We have also worked to ensure that renters in Victoria, including students and temporary visa holders, are able to maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation. This includes rules that protect renters from eviction as a result of financial hardship and a one-off rental relief payment for eligible households. There are no citizenship or permanent residency requirements for applicants. For more information about the relief fund and other dedicated support, please visit: https://www.housing.vic.gov.au/help-renting/rentrelief.
Emergency Relief Packages, Test Isolation Payments, Pandemic Leave Disaster payment
Community members in self isolation or quarantine without family or networks can access free Emergency Relief Packages. Further support is also available to people who are unable to work or care for themselves while they wait for a test result, or isolate or quarantine through Test Isolation Payments and the Pandemic Leave Disaster payment. Enquiries about eligibility for a package or access to the payments can be directed to the Victorian Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398.
Support for COVID medical advice or treatment
For all people in Victoria who need to seek medical advice or treatment for symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and do not have adequate insurance coverage, Victorian hospitals will waive the costs of treatment. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure that everyone can access Victoria’s healthcare system, including visitors, international students or temporary visa holders who fall ill in Australia and are not eligible for Medicare. This is in addition to the $59.4 million Mental Health and Wellbeing Response package, which will ensure that people, including temporary and provisional visa holders, can access critical mental health services. For details of this new arrangement, please visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au.
There are a number of other government and non-government supports available including food relief, housing, healthcare and cash support. The Australian Red Cross website has information on the wide range of supports available to temporary residents. More information is available at: https://www.redcross.org.au/get-help/help-for-migrants-in-transition.
The Live in Melbourne website also provides a helpful summary of the types of support available from the Victorian Government: https://liveinmelbourne.vic.gov.au/news-events/news/2020/government-assistance-for-temporary-and-provisional-visa-holders-coronavirus-covid-19.