It has been a challenging start to 2020 with the devastating bushfires, which continue to ravage much of Australia.
Not only has this been a massive crisis for Australians, our international clients and partners have all expressed their support and concern, and domestically we are proud to work with some organisations who are making substantial contributions to the bushfire relief efforts through provision of supplies, human resources and financial support.
Our world is truly global and interconnected, and an environmental catastrophe like the Australian bushfires has rallied the international community and seems to have touched everyone everywhere, in some way.
There are many organisations who have staff directly affected or whose operations are impacted by these catastrophic events. Business sponsors and visa holders affected by this disaster have particular challenges to consider.
The Department of Home Affairs has been slow to release guidance for sponsors and visa holders affected by the bushfires. Australia’s peak immigration industry body, the Migration Institute of Australia, has advised its members that the Department is considering the short and long term effects of the bushfires for sponsors and visa holders.
At this stage, the Assistant Secretary, Skilled and Family Visa Programs has indicated that these matters are being discussed internally with a view to develop public advice for visa holders, employers and migration agents. As it has done in the past during natural disasters, the Department has indicated that it will seek to manage this situation with flexibility and understanding.
The Department is also looking at options for Working Holiday Visa holders to support bushfire recovery work, more information will be provided shortly.
We have been working with affected clients to manage various immigration issues relating to the disaster, including:
- Standing down visa holders with or without pay
- Reducing pay or work hours of visa holders due business downturn
- Change of work location for sponsored visa holders
- Extended leave (e.g. personal or community service leave) for visa holders
- Change of location issues for regional visa holders
- Loss of or inability to access documents or information relating to a visa or sponsorship application
The Migration Agency will continue to monitor developments, and provide further guidance when it is available.
In the meantime, if you are affected by the bushfires and need immigration assistance please contact us (02) 8896 6056 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Migration Agency is providing free consultations for victims of the bushfires.