Australian Borderforce has made a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the coronavirus crisis in order to protect the health of the community.

It should be noted that employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers, including international students, have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.

Below are some of the industry sectors where COVID 19 changes have been implemented:


Home Affairs will apply flexible arrangements to allow critical workers, including Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme participants and Working Holiday Makers, to extend their stay in Australia:

  • Seasonal Worker Programme workers with visas due to expire will be able to apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.
  • Pacific Labour Scheme workers with visas due to expire can apply for a new Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) Pacific Labour scheme stream visa.
  • Workers currently in Australia under these programs will also be exempt from the requirement to work for a single employer and will be able to move between approved employers.
  • In addition, Working Holiday Makers who are working in critical sectors (eg agriculture, aged or health care) will be exempt from the 6 month work limitation with one employer and eligible for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream.

Aged Care

  • International students who work in aged care can also work more than 40 hours a fortnight, to make sure there are enough staff to look after the elderly who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • All aged care Approved Providers or Commonwealth funded aged care service providers that have been issued with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders. These aged care providers should see the letter provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.
  • These measures only apply to existing workers in their existing roles.

Cruise ship industry

On 20 May 2020, the Minister for Health extended the restrictions under the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Cruise Ships) Determination 2020 for the operation of cruise ships in Australia. This includes:

  • extending to 17 September 2020, the current measures restricting the entry of cruise ships into Australian territory and entry at Australian ports; and
  • continuing the application of these restrictions to cruise ships capable of carrying 100 or more passengers.
  • The restrictions are inclusive of direct arrivals and Round Trip Cruises (RTC).


From 24 June 2020, all air crew operating international flights between Australia and New Zealand, are exempt from home quarantine requirements, provided they have only been within Australia and New Zealand for the past 14 days. State and Territory governments may have additional requirements for air crew. Airlines and air crew should monitor individual state and territory government health sites for details and updates on additional measure.