Travel Restrictions During COVID-19

Travelling to Australia

From 9:00pm on 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members of an Australian citizen/permanent resident and NZ citizens usually resident in Australia can travel to Australia.

If you are an immediate family member of an Australian citizen/permanent resident holding a temporary visa you will need to provide the Australian government with evidence of your relationship. Travellers who have a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia can use this form to apply for an exemption to the travel restriction. Please do not travel until the government advises that you can.

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF) may consider an additional exemption in relation to the travel restrictions currently in place for:

  • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest
  • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports
  • Persons with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exception
  • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia, and their immediate family
  • ​Case-by-case exceptions may also be granted for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.

For Australians already overseas who wish to return to Australia, it is recommended that you do so as soon as possible via a commercial flight.

From 11:59pm on 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving to Australia will be required to undertake a 14-day quarantine at a facility (such as a hotel) in their immediate port of arrival.

Travelling from Australia

The Australian Government has advised all Australians to reassess whether their overseas travel plans are absolutely imperative at this point in time. If not, cancelling travel plans is recommended.

Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents are restricted from travelling overseas from midday on 25 March 2020. This travel restriction does not apply to:

  • people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers
  • New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa are not permanent residents for the purposes of the Biosecurity Determination and are permitted to depart Australia. New Zealand citizens who are permanent visa holders may apply for a Commissioner’s discretion
  • people engaged in the day to day conduct of outbound and inbound freight
  • people whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities and
  • people travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.

Travellers who believe they meet a travel restriction exemption can apply online to the Commissioner of the ABF.​​

COVID-19 Visa Updates for Existing Australian Visa Holders

International students allowed to work more hours

International students in Australia who are currently employed at major supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles will be temporarily allowed to work more than their stipulated hours, to support the high demand being faced by supermarket chains.

Normally, student Visa working hours involve holders working less than 40 hours a fortnight during any fortnight that their course of study or training is in session. This extension of hours initiative will give international students more flexibility to work while they are studying, as well as giving our supermarkets further ability to meet demand during this busy COVID-19 period.

The initiative only applies for existing employees of supermarkets, and employers are still required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws.

COVID-19 Information for Temporary Visa Holders

If you hold a current temporary Australian Visa and have not been able to depart Australia as planned, then you should apply for a new Visa before your current one expires. There are limited options if you are already in Australia, however you may consider applying to stay as a visitor unless you are eligible to work, study or join family.

If you apply for a new visa before your current visa expires, you will qualify to obtain a Bridging Visa to remain in Australia.

If your current visa has expired, you must apply for bridging visa (BVE) to remain lawful presence in Australia. This visa will be valid until you make arrangements to leave the country or until you finalise your visa options.

Condition 8503 (No Further Stay) and COVID-19

If you’re a Visa holder in Australia and your current Visa has a ‘No Further Stay’ condition attached to it, then you are unable to make a valid application for other Visas whilst in the country. If you wish to stay in Australia, you must lodge a written request to waive this condition.

The circumstances in which ‘No Further Stay’ Visa condition may be waived include:

  1. since the person was granted the visa that was subject to the condition, compelling and compassionate circumstances have developed:
    1. over which the person had no control
    2. that resulted in a major change to the person’s circumstances
  2. if the minister previously refused to waive the condition, the minister is satisfied that the circumstances mentioned in paragraph (a) are substantially different from those considered previously

As the current travel restrictions are beyond the applicant’s control, they may be considered as ‘compelling and compassionate’, and applicants from countries who have been affected by travel restrictions caused by COVID-19 may be able to apply for a waiver of the 8503 condition.

Condition 8531, Condition 8558 and COVID-19

If you hold a visa with condition 8531 (Must Not Remain in Australia Beyond the Period of Stay Permitted by the Visa) or condition 8558 (Must Not Stay in Australia for More Than 12 Months in Any 18 Month Period) and have not been able to depart Australia as planned, you should apply for a further visa before your current visa expires.

If you apply for a new visa, you may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa that will keep you as a lawful presence in Australia until a decision is made on your visa application.

Contact Withstand Lawyers for More Information

If you’re experiencing difficulty with your visa situation in the current COVID-19 circumstance, get in contact with Withstand Lawyers for free advice and information.

We’ll be able to simplify the visa process for you and explain everything in clear, concise language that you’ll understand.

We know that this is a difficult time for everyone, and we’re here with legal advice that can help you stay safe and well.

Contact us on 1800 952 901.

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