Canberra Government clarified ‘continuous employment’ eligibility criteria due to COVID-19 impact on Canberra nomination. All applicants for ACT 491 / 190 nomination must meet the eligibility criteria at date of Matrix submission. However, applicants impacted by COVID-19 can request a waiver of the ‘continuous employment’ eligibility criteria in the following circumstances:
- Applicants whose return to Canberra is delayed due to the COVID-19 travel ban can request a waiver of the continuous employment criteria. A waiver request should include supporting documentation to evidence the impact of the delayed return (e.g. evidence of cancelled flights, employer agreement to accept the extended absence as unpaid leave, etc).
- Applicants will still meet the ACT ’continuous residence’ eligibility criteria (the period of time spent overseas due to the travel ban will be ignored).
- Applicants must meet the 3/6 months employment criteria (either before and / or after their return to Canberra) at the date of Matrix submission.
Example: A 491 applicant worked for 9 weeks in Canberra and went back to China for 2 weeks (on paid annual leave). Due to the travel ban, they are forced to take unpaid leave before returning to Canberra and resuming employment. They can submit a 491 Matrix after working for another two weeks on their return to Canberra: 9 weeks work prior to departure + 2 weeks paid leave while overseas + unpaid leave overseas + 2 weeks work on their return to Canberra = 13 weeks continuous employment (the period of unpaid leave will be ignored).
14 DAY SELF-ISOLATION REQUIREMENT
- Applicants who are required to self- isolate for 14 days due to COVID -19 can request a waiver of the continuous employment criteria. A waiver request must include evidence of the need to self- isolate i.e. return date to Australia; close contact etc.
- Applicants must still meet the 3/6 months employment criteria (either before and / or after the self-isolation period) at the date of Matrix submission.
ACT BUSINESS CLOSURE /REDUCED WORKING HOURS
- Applicants whose work hours are reduced, are required to take unpaid leave, or have lost their job due to the COVID -19 impact on an ACT business can request a waiver of the continuous employment criteria. A waiver request must include evidence from the employer regarding the business closure and / or reduced working hours.
- Applicants must still meet the three / six months employment criteria before a 491 / 190 Matrix can be submitted. However each week worked that meets the 20 / 35 hrs pw criteria, either before and / or after the COVID -19 impact on ACT business, can be counted towards the period of claimed employment at date of matrix submission.
- Paid leave can be counted towards the period of claimed employment.
- Applicants can cumulate hours worked for one or more ACT employers, change employers and / or be self employed.
Example: A 491 applicant worked for 7 weeks in Canberra. Due to the COVID-19 impact on ACT business, they are forced to take 4 weeks unpaid leave before resuming employment with the same or a different employer. They can submit a 491 Matrix after working another six weeks on their return to work: 7 weeks work prior to closure + 4 weeks unpaid leave + 6 weeks work on return = 13 weeks continuous employment (the period of unpaid leave will be ignored).
Example: after working full time for 18 weeks, a 190 applicant ‘s hours were reduced and they worked part time for 6 weeks then the business closed and they were out of work for three weeks. They can submit the 190 matrix after working another 8 weeks full time on their return to work: 18 weeks full time + 6 weeks part time + three weeks unpaid + 8 weeks full time = 26 weeks continuous employment (the period of reduced hours / unpaid leave will be ignored).
Request for Waiver
If you are invited to apply for ACT 491 / 190 nomination, any request for a COVID -19 waiver must be in writing, attached to the application and evidenced by supporting documentation.