Coroavirus Travel Ban and Visa Related Concerns
The Australian Government announced travel restrictions commencing on the 20th of March, 9 PM. The restrictions do not apply to Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents, and their immediate family members (caveats apply) or New Zealand Citizens usually resident in Australia. All those who enter into Australia, despite their visa status, will still need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from date of entry. This situation is unfolding daily and you should endeavour to discuss your situation with a Registered Migration Agent to ensure that you have up to date advice.
Australians with Immediate Family Members Overseas
Australians that have ‘immediate family members’ currently overseas who are not Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents must apply for permission before they will be able to enter into Australia. The Department have allocated extra staff to travel permissions, meaning that the permissions are being decided in a relatively short time. We have had travel permissions granted within 24 hours.
‘Immediate family’ is currently limited to your spouse, dependents and legal guardians. These family members must have a temporary visa in order to be given travel approval.
Pre-approval can be sought using the following link : https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/covid19-enquiry-form
Applicants for pre-approval will need to supply evidence of their family relationship in conjunction with their pre-approval request. This can take the form of a marriage certificate, de-facto relationship registration, or evidence outlined in the following list – https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/supporting/Pages/evidence-of-relationship.aspx
Temporary Visa Holders Overseas
Travel pre-approval can also be sought for temporary visa holders currently offshore who can demonstrate a need to travel based around compelling and compassionate circumstances. Currently the Department has two prescribed instances that would meet the threshold of ‘compelling or compassionate requests’ including;
- To attend the funeral of an Australian family member; or
- To provide care for a seriously ill family member.
Travel pre-approval is also being granted to individuals that have critical skills e.g. medical specialists, engineers etc. on a case by case basis.
Those that do not have compelling and compassionate circumstances warranting a need to come onshore must wait outside Australia until the travel restrictions are lifted. This includes those who were outside Australia on a Bridging Visa B at the time the ban was announced. It also includes those who were on temporary visas and were outside Australia at the time the ban was announced.
Those who have visas which have expired whilst outside Australia (including Bridging Visa B holders who stay beyond the allowed travel period) will need to apply for a new visa once the travel ban has been lifted. Those on Bridging Visa B’s which have ceased should contact a Registered Migration Agent immediately to discuss their options for returning to Australia and reinstating their Bridging Visa.
Those who have been recently granted a temporary visa, and must enter into Australia before a specific date but cannot due to the ban are being advised that they may need to apply for new visas once the travel ban is over. Those who have been granted a permanent visa and must arrive before a specific date, but cannot due to flight disruptions are advised to contact the Department of Home Affairs and discuss your situation with the office that granted the visa.
Temporary Visa Holders in Australia
A number of temporary visa holders in Australia will also be in particularly precarious circumstances due to upcoming visa expiry dates and compliance with visa conditions. The general expectation will be that visa holders will comply with their visa conditions and where possible will depart the country prior to the visa expiry date, or otherwise arrange a further visa for Australia to remain lawful in the country.
Those with upcoming visa expiry dates but who cannot travel back to their home country due to flight disruptions ought to lodge a further visa to remain in Australia. Depending on your circumstances lodging a further Subclass 600 Visitor Visa may be appropriate, beware of subsequent temporary application charges that may apply.
Those without visas due to last minute flight cancellations should urgently arrange to be given a Bridging Visa E to ensure that they remain lawful in Australia. Those who are currently on a Bridging Visa E should consult with a Registered Migration Agent regarding the potential ramifications this may have on future visa applications for temporary visas and the effects of Public Interest Criterion 4014 (travel bans).
Those currently in Australia on a visa affected by a no further stay requirement (conditions 8503, 8534 and 8535) are being permitted to have these conditions waived so that they are eligible to lodge a further visa application within Australia. Submitting a request for waiver can be done through a Form 1447.
How We Can Help
Our Registered Migration Agents can assist in may ways, including:
- Providing advice on your options in the circumstances; and
- Advising on potential issues for future visa applications and migration strategies in light of Coronavirus.
Our Registered Migration Agents can analyse your circumstances, identify any areas of risk and discuss the most appropriate strategy to meet your goals. If you would like to know if we can assist in other ways, feel free to contact us using the below form or at firstname.lastname@example.org.