Thousands of workers living in Australia have urged the government to stay in the country permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An ambitious proposal has been made calling on the government to grant permanent residency to those who have been on temporary visas during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A petition on the website of Parliament House installed last week Argued that temporary residents who do not fall into the “skilled workers” category should be rewarded with a path to permanent residence to support the economy during the outbreak.
“Their support of the economy has taken many forms: work, study, pay rent, pay taxes, support local businesses and Australian online retailers,” it read.
“Disruptions in the migration program with limited or unattainable routes to permanent residence during the pandemic mean that the future of many temporary residents in Australia is uncertain.”
The petition has garnered over 18,000 signatures and will close on December 22.
The government has already changed its requirements to ease legacy temporary work skilled visas for “highly skilled” migrants with existing temporary skill shortages or to obtain permanent residency.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the changes, announced late last month, expected about 20,000 primary temporary skill-deficient workers and 457 visa holders to remain in the country.
“Most of these workers are employed in the highest-skilled occupations and the largest groups of workers to benefit from these changes are currently employed in the health and hospitality industries, including many workers in regional Australia,” he said.
The petition, however, requested that these changes be expanded to include workers from a wide range of industries and not just those deemed “skilled” by the government.
“Over the next few years, many people will be forced to leave Australia, a country they love,” the petition said.
“Australia must follow the lead of countries such as New Zealand and Canada and recognize the contribution of temporary residents during the pandemic along the permanent residence route.”
The New Zealand government announced in September that it would provide a one-time residence route for a group of temporary work visa holders who have lived in the country throughout the pandemic.