If Covid-19 Pandemic has affected your visa application process in Australia, then don’t worry. There’s good news for you. The Australia Government has announced to give refunds and fee waivers of visa application charges (VAC). You may get a refund or waiver of your VAC if you’ve paid for a visa extension that has been affected by Covid-19.
Refunds and Fee Waivers of VAC for Visas 482 and 457
If you’re not listed on your original VAC receipt as the ‘payer,’ you cannot request a refund. You can use the Covid-19 travel restrictions VAC refund request form. You might apply for a VAC if you were outside Australia and held Visa 482 or 457 on or after February 1, 2020, which has been expired.
You can get a VAC waiver for a subsequent Temporary Skill Shortage 482 visa application if:
- You couldn’t enter Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions before your visa expired.
- You traveled to Australia and left without being able to return before your visa ceased due to travel restrictions.
You must have a valid nomination. Furthermore, the deadline to submit your application is December 31, 2022.
Refunds and Fee Waivers on Working Holiday Makers
VAC refunds will be available to Working Holiday Maker Visa holders who arrive in Australia between 19 January 2022 and 19 April 2022. Online applications for an offshore nil VAC (no fee) WHM visa are possible, or you can request a VAC refund if:
- You were issued a Covid-19 affected WHM visa before March 20, 2020
- If your WHM visa expired between March 20, 2020, and December 31, 2021, while you were outside Australia
- Either you did not travel to Australia on your WHM visa, or you left Australia before your WHM visa expired.
If you’re eligible, you can apply online for an offshore nil VAC WHM visa from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2022. The VAC refund option is available to you if you no longer meet the age requirement to apply for an offshore nil VAC WHM visa.
You can submit the VAC refund requests and offshore nil VAC application by 31 December 2022. If you’re in Australia on March 5, 2022, and eligible, you can apply for an onshore Visa Application Charge of Working Holiday Visa.
Refunds and Fee Waivers for Students
The Department of Home Affairs will waiver your fee for a new Student Visa application. You’ll get the fee waiver if you’ve deferred your studies. As you couldn’t enter Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Click here to know further details on Changes in Student Visa applications.
Refunds and Fee Waivers for Visit Visa
There’s no fee to apply for a new Visitor Visa 600 except in the Frequent Traveller stream. It’ll be possible if you’re outside Australia.
You may get a refund of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) if:
- You hold or have held a Visa 600, which was granted outside Australia before March 21, 2020.
- Your visa got expired or will expire between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2022.
- In case your visa was a multiple entry visa or a single entry visa for travel to Australia but was not used for that purpose.
You can submit a new application through ImmiAccount by December 31, 2022. It must be noted that you can apply with your VAC waiver only once. You cannot request a second waiver, even if Home Affairs refuses your visa.
Visa Extension for Prospective Marriage Visa 300
Australia introduced changes to support Prospective Marriage Visa holders, former visa holders and visa applicants who couldn’t enter Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions in late 2020/early 2021. The extension of validity periods of visas and refunds of VAC was introduced on October 29, 2021.
Prospective Marriage Visa holders will have their visa extended to 31 March, 2022.
These measures aim to assist 300 Visa holders who’re still experiencing difficulty entering Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. 300 visa holders and former visa holders outside Australia on 10 December 2020 who held a Prospective Marriage visa between 6 October 2020 and 10 December 2020 will have their visa extended. They’ll get the visa extension until March 31, 2022.
On 29 October 2021, 300 visa holders outside of Australia on 15 September 2021, who held a Prospective Marriage Visa, were granted a visa validity extension until 31 December 2022.
VAC Refunds for People with Visa Extension
The Covid-19 related travel restrictions have impacted the ability of visa holders to marry their partners in Australia. Therefore, refunds are being provided for the Visa Application Charge (VAC). If your visa 300 was extended on December 10, 2020, the payer of your VAC can apply for a refund.
The payer can request a refund if:
- You haven’t been to Australia after December 10, 2020, while holding visa 300.
- Your visa had expired or has been canceled on your request when you requested a refund.
- Your visa has started and you’ve requested the Minister to cancel your visa.
The payer of your VAC might request a refund if the validity period for your Prospective Marriage visa was extended as a result of changes introduced on 29 October 2021.
You can request a refund if:
- You have held a visa 300 and were outside Australia on September 15, 2021.
- You haven’t traveled to Australia after September 15, 2021, as a Prospective Marriage Visa holder
- Your visa has ceased as you asked the Minister to cancel it at the time of the refund request.
The deadline for refund requests is 31 December 2022. You must first cancel your Prospective Marriage visa with your ImmiAccount before requesting a refund if your visa is still in effect.
Unavailability of VAC Refunds
Refunds of Visa Application Charges (VAC) will not be available if:
- The Minister has canceled your Prospective Marriage Visa unless you’ve asked for it to be canceled.
- You had applied for a Partner Visa 801 and paid a reduced fee as you held a visa 300.
- As soon as your visa ceased, you or your sponsor informed the Department that you no longer want to marry
Refunds and Fee Waivers for Former 300 Visa Holders and People Who Couldn’t Marry in Australia
If your Visa 300 was ceased while you were outside Australia between 20 March 2020 and 5 October 2020, the payer of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) might get refunds and fee waviers.
The payer might also get a VAC refund if your visa ceased and you couldn’t marry your sponsor in Australia before your visa ceased due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. These restrictions may include quarantine procedures, state lockdowns, or interstate travel bans.
The payer of the VAC may get a refund under these provisions if:
- You traveled to Australia on your visa.
- The validity of your visa expired between 20 March 2020 and 5 October 2020, when you were in Australia
- Your visa was in effect on 10 September 2021, whereas it ceased to be in effect when you requested a refund.
You can’t get a refund if you didn’t marry your sponsor due to Covid-19 restrictions.
These restrictions include:
- A limited number of guests could attend your wedding
- Prevented certain guests to attend your proposed wedding
- The proposed wedding could not take place at the time or location preferred by you and your sponsor
A Prospective Marriage visa granted after 27 February 2021 may have a validity period of between 9 and 15 months. This policy is to assist 300 visa holders who couldn’t enter Australia due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Refund and Fee Waivers – Final Words!
The Australia Government is offering refunds or waivers to people whose visa applications have been affected by Covid-19. Refunds and fee waivers are available for Visit Visa, Student Visa, Temporary Skill Shortage Visa and Prospective Marriage Visa holders. So, if you need help to request a refund or waiver for any visa in Australia, you can book a consultation with us anytime.
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I’m Nasir Nawaz. I’m a registered migration consultant in Australia. I am based in Sydney. I’ve studied Master of Laws at the University of New South Wales. I’m providing immigration services for several years.
Consult with me for legal advice on Australian visas to permanently live, study, and work in Australia.