Coronavirus: What you need to know if you’re on a visa
From medical care to benefit entitlements, via-holders have different rights to Aussie residents.
If you're one of the thousands of overseas visitors who is currently in Australia on a visa - whether that's for work, study, or even just extended travel - there are some important things you should know about getting through the coronavirus pandemic.
What advice has the government offered?
On 3 April, Australia's Prime Minister said anyone on a tourist, student, or visitor visa should return home if they cannot support themselves financially.
However, he also mentioned that international visitors who have critical skills could be the exception - including healthcare workers and those working in agriculture.
The government also confirmed that anyone on the Seasonal Worker Programme or Pacific Labour Scheme will be able to extend their stay for up to one year. Essential workers will also be exempt from the rule which usually prevents visitors from working with the same employer for more than six months.
Can I claim government benefits?
Unfortunately, it's unlikely you'll be able to claim any government benefits right now. That applies to both the JobSeeker and JobKeeper benefit packages.
|Benefit||What is it?||Who's eligible?|
|JobKeeper payment||Eligible employers will receive $1,500 a fortnight for each eligible worker. This must be passed on to the employees.||Australian citizens, permanent residents, New Zealand citizens on a special category (subclass 444) visa, and anyone with a protected special category visa.|
Anyone with a non-protected special category visa will have to prove they've lived in Australia for 10 years or more.
Other conditions apply.
|JobSeeker payment||From 27 April, jobseekers will be eligible for a maximum base rate of $1,115.70 a fortnight||Australian citizens and permanent residents.|
You may be able to get JobSeeker payment for 6 months if you have a non-protected Special Category visa and have lived in Australia for at least 10 years.
Do I need health insurance for COVID-19?
No. You don't need health insurance to get treatment for COVID-19. However, where you're from, and what insurance you have, will determine who pays for your treatment.
|Situation||Who it usually is||Treatment|
|You're entitled to Medicare||People from 1 of the 11 countries with a Reciprocal Healthcare Environment||You get free treatment in a public hospital, as well as benefits for GP visits and prescription medication.|
|You're not entitled to Medicare but have private health insurance||People on a work or student visa, from a country without a a Reciprocal Healthcare Environment||Your health insurer will cover the cost of your treatment. Many insurers are offering extra cover at no extra cost.|
|You're not entitled to Medicare, but have valid travel insurance||People on a working holiday visa or tourist visa||Your travel insurer may cover the cost of treatment if you bought your policy before its COVID-19 cut-off date.|
|You're not entitled to Medicare and don't have private health insurance||Most visas require adequate health cover - but if you got around it, this applies to you.||Some states, including NSW, VIC and WA, have already pledged to waive healthcare costs associated with COVID-19. Others may follow.|
Can travel insurance help?
If you bought your travel insurance before the coronavirus became a known event, you might still have some cover. So if you'd planned a trip of a lifetime around Australia, but have found yourself self-isolating in your hostel or temporary share-house, you might be able to claim some money back for any bookings you'd already made.
Remember, some travel insurers exclude claims related to epidemics and pandemics, so be sure to check your PDS carefully.
If you bought your travel insurance after COVID-19 became a known event, you're extremely unlikely to be offered any cover by your insurer.
However, many airlines, accommodation providers and tour operators are currently waiving fees to change the dates of any upcoming trips. So if your plans have been put on hold, you might not be out of pocket.
Compare visitor health cover
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