Has your visa been affected by Coronavirus travel restrictions?

The Federal Government has announced that from 9pm AEDT 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia.

The Department of Home Affairs (The Department) provided further information on their website:

Who is considered immediate family?

  • spouses
  • dependents
  • legal guardians

Are there any other exemptions?

New Zealand citizens who usually reside in Australia will be allowed to return. Some travellers in transit may also be permitted temporary entry.

 

All other temporary visa holders currently overseas and unable to return prior to 9PM tonight, will need to wait until the ban is lifted (and apply for a new visa as needed) in order to re-enter Australia.

 

Prior to these measures, when the ban only applied to a restricted number of countries, the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) had sought clarifications from the Department of regarding visa holders and applicants impacted by the travel restrictions. Please see their advice below:

General Visa compliance  

  • There will be a flexible approach to visa holders requesting waivers for ‘No Further Stay’ conditions.
  • There will be extended timeframes in relation to health, character and English language requirements for applicants.
  • Some student visa holders such as student nurses and supermarket workers have been allowed to work beyond their permitted 40 hours per fortnight in order to assist in hospitals and ensure stocks are replaced at supermarkets respectively.

Eligibility for Citizenship by conferral  - Time spent in Australia before applying

There are no additional concessions applicable to the required time spent in Australia immediately prior to applying for citizenship by conferral.

Generally, to be eligible to apply applicants must have been lawfully present in Australia for a period of four years, including at least 12 months as a permanent resident, immediately prior to making an application. Applicants may be absent for no more than 12 months in total during the four-year period, including no more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately prior to lodging an application. There are some ministerial discretions which may be applied in limited circumstances.

None of the above listed requirements has changed due to travel restrictions. If permanent residents have been prevented from re-entering Australia, they will generally need to wait until they meet the requirement to apply.

International Students attending online courses

The Department has no role in authorising the modes of study for international students and is guided by education sector regulators, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), on whether students can count online learning towards completion of their course.

BVB Holders who are unable to return to Australia before their visa expires

There is no ability to “extend” a BVB travel period after grant. Non-citizens will need to apply for a further visa to return to Australia.

If a BVB expires before the holder can return to Australia, they will need to apply for another visa (such as a short stay Visitor visa) once the travel restrictions have been lifted. Decisions on Visitor visa applications will be made on a case by case basis. Once onshore, the person will need to apply for a BVA (in relation to their previous onshore visa application) to remain lawful after the Visitor visa expires.

De-facto partners of Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents entering Australia

Although family members of Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents are excluded from the travel bans to Australia, many have reported issues entering the country, in particular de-facto partners who have not yet applied for a Partner Visa or registered their relationship.

The Department has advised the MIA that if a de-facto relationship has not been previously declared and evidenced to the Department, documents can be submitted prior to travelling to Australia via their website.

For more information on which documents should be included and how they can be uploaded, please contact us for advice.

Reinstatement of cancelled temporary visas

Some temporary visa holders who attempted to enter Australia from Mainland China without first spending 14 days in a third country have had their visas cancelled.

The Department advised that persons are being notified in writing of their visa cancellation and provided with advice on how to seek revocation of the visa cancellation decision.

If you have received a letter notifying you of the cancellation or have concerns that your visa may have been cancelled, please contact us for advice.

Migration Plus will continue to update our clients as information becomes available.

If the travel ban has delayed your entry or re-entry to Australia and you are concerned about effects on your current visa or future applications, please contact us for advice.