Latest Updates and Announcements

Department of Home Affairs Website

Updates on changes to visa requirements and travel restrictions are regularly made on the Department’s website COVID-19 and the border page, which you can access here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/

Trans-Tasman bubble with New Zealand announced – 6 April 2021

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has announced that the trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand will commence from 11.59pm on April 18, 2021.

Currently, travellers from New Zealand are able to enter most parts of Australia without the need to complete mandatory quarantine.

The travel bubble will mean the opening up of a two-way quarantine-free travel arrangement between the two countries.

A framework will be in place to respond to a change in circumstances, such as an outbreak of the virus in an Australian city, which could pause the travel bubble.

New Zealand could also respond to changes that arise by deciding to continue the travel bubble as is, or to suspend the arrangement.

Therefore, travellers need to be prepared for a possible disruption to their travel plans.

Travellers from Australia will be required to abide by a number of conditions, including the following:

Provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted whilst in New Zealand;

They will be unable to travel if they have cold or flu symptoms;

Wear a mask on the flight;

They will be asked to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app in New Zealand;

May be subject to a random temperature check upon arrival.

You can read more about this here: https://www.news.com.au/travel/destinations/new-zealand/transtasman-bubble-australia-and-new-zealand-corridor-to-be-announced/news-story/b52dfb050058f3e617b8bd531495b471

Hard Border with Greater Brisbane lifted in South Australia – 3 April 2021

The South Australian Government has lifted its hard border with Greater Brisbane.

This means that as of 2:30 pm on 3 April 2021, travellers from Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands, including returning South Australian Residents, Genuine relocations and Domestic Violence victims, as well as Essential Travellers, can enter South Australia under ‘Level 3 restrictions.’

Incoming travellers must:

Complete a COVID-19 test on days 1, 5 and 13;

Comply with the self-quarantine requirements until they get a negative COVID-19 test result;

Not enter or remain in a high risk setting in South Australia for a period of 14 days after their arrival, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result (unless otherwise permitted);

Not attend any event in South Australia with an approved COVID-19 Management Plan, or at which more than 1000 people are present for a period of 14 days after their arrival.

You can read about this here: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions#sa

Border requirements and restrictions for Greater Brisbane following end of lockdown – 1 April 2021

Following the announcement that Greater Brisbane is no longer subject to a lockdown as of 12:00pm AEST today, 1 April 2021, you can access the latest interstate travel restrictions that are currently in place, here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-01/brisbane-lockdown-travel-rules-borders-nsw/100043454

New border requirements and restrictions announced for Greater Brisbane – 29 March 2021

Interstate border requirements have changed based on the current situation around the COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland.

As a result, Greater Brisbane will go into a 3-day lockdown from 5.00pm today, after being declared a hotspot by the Queensland government with 4 new cases of community transmission recorded.

This new outbreak of the virus had led to the introduction of new border restrictions across the country.

You can read more about the current state of play on interstate border restrictions across Australia here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-27/state-travel-restrictions-after-brisbane-covid-case/100033146

Australia allows travel to New Zealand without requiring exemption – 24 March 2021

The Government has amended Australia’s emergency biosecurity laws to allow people to leave Australia to travel to New Zealand.

The Health Minister, Mr Greg Hunt, amended these laws on Monday 22 March 2021, to permit anyone who had been in Australia for at least 14 days to travel “directly to New Zealand” for any reason.

This means that a travel exemption is no longer required to travel to New Zealand.

You can read more about this here: https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/australias-international-travel-ban-lifted-for-new-zealand-ardern-to-announce-deal-details/news-story/e593b8336027f625cb100a04dc22bfc6

Date for commencement of quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand to be announced – 23 March 2021

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has advised that the start date for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand will be announced on 6 April 2021.

Ms Ardern noted that more time was needed to arrange the travel bubble, to enable the final framework of the agreement to be concluded and to make the necessary arrangements (including contact tracing measures and managed isolation facilities).

The trans-Tasman travel bubble may be negotiated on a state-by-state basis, rather than nationally.

Ms Ardern also indicated that borders could close temporarily in the future as a precautionary approach.

Australia’s border has been open to travellers from New Zealand since October 2020, with some restrictions imposed since then in response to COVID-19 outbreaks in New Zealand.

You can read more about this here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-22/new-zealand-travel-bubble-with-australia-plan-date/100021442

Refund of VAC for certain Subclass 462 Work and Holiday Visa holder and former holders – 22 March 2021

A recently introduced legislative instrument, which prescribes the circumstances for refunds to be made of the first instalment of the Visa Application Charge (VAC), applies to visa holders and former visa holders who have been impacted due to COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions (introduced on 20 March 2020) and who hold, or have held a Subclass 462 (Work and Holiday) visa.

The VAC will be refunded if all of the following circumstances apply:

The visa was granted before 20 March 2020 and either the person did not enter Australia under the visa, or they departed Australia between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 and did not re-enter Australia on that visa;

The visa ceased to be in effect between 30 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 while the relevant person was outside of Australia;

If the visa ceased to be in effect because it was cancelled, the cancellation only occurred because the relevant person requested the Minister to cancel the visa in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Migration Regulations. If the Subclass 462 visa was cancelled on any other grounds, the circumstances will not apply and a refund of visa application charge will not be available;

The person has not applied for another Subclass 462 visa;

The person is unable to be granted another Subclass 462 visa because they do not satisfy the age requirements; and

The refund is requested on or before 31 December 2022.

This instrument commenced on 27 February 2021.

Refund of VAC for certain Subclass 417 Working Holiday Visa holder and former holders – 19 March 2021

A new legislative instrument has been introduced to specify circumstances in which refunds of the first instalment of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) will apply.

Among the prescribed visa subclasses to which these provisions apply are visa holders and former visa holders who have been impacted due to COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions (introduced on 20 March 2020) and who hold, or have held a Subclass 417 Working Holiday (Temporary) visa.

The VAC will be refunded if all of the following circumstances apply:

The visa was granted before 20 March 2020 and either the person did not enter Australia under the visa, or they departed Australia between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 and did not re-enter Australia on that visa;

The Subclass 417 visa ceased to be in effect between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 while the person was outside of Australia;

If the visa ceased to be in effect because it was cancelled, the cancellation only occurred because the relevant person requested the Minister to cancel the visa in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Migration Regulations, as prescribed (if the visa was cancelled on any other grounds, the circumstance will not apply and a refund of VAC will not be available);

The person has not applied for another Subclass 417 visa;

The person is unable to be granted another Subclass 417 visa because they do not satisfy the age requirements; and

The refund is requested on or before 31 December 2022.

This instrument commenced on 27 February 2021.

Refund of VAC for certain Subclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) visa holders and former holders in the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) or Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) stream – 17 March 2021

A new legislative instrument, which commenced on 27 February 2021, outline the circumstances in which a refund of the first instalment of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) will apply.

These legislative changes have been made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in the list of specified visa subclasses to which these provisions apply are visa holders and former visa holders who have been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions (introduced on 20 March 2020) and who hold, or have held a Subclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) visa in the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) or Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) stream.

The VAC will be refunded to Subclass 403 visa holders under the PLS and SWP streams if all of the following circumstances apply:

The visa was granted before 20 March 2020, but the person was not able to enter Australia on or before the date specified by the Minister on the visa;

A refund is requested on or before 31 December 2021 and, at the time of decision on the request for a refund, the visa was no longer in effect;

If the visa ceased to be in effect because it was cancelled, the cancellation only occurred because the visa holder requested the Minister to cancel the visa (in accordance with the Migration Regulations, as specified).

Refund of VAC for certain Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage (Temporary) visa holders and former holders – 16 March 2021

A new legislative instrument has been introduced to specify circumstances in which refunds of the first instalment of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) will apply.

Among the prescribed visa subclasses to which these provisions apply are visa holders and former visa holders who have been impacted due to COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions (introduced on 20 March 2020) and who hold, or have held a Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage (Temporary) visa.

The VAC will be refunded to Subclass 300 visa holders if one of the following circumstances apply:

The visa ceased to be in effect between 20 March 2020 and 5 October 2020 while the visa holder was outside Australia, and a refund is requested on or before 31 December 2022;

The visa ceased to be in effect between 20 March 2020 and 5 October 2020 while the visa holder was in Australia, but the visa holder was unable to marry their sponsor before the visa ceased because of restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic (such as quarantine requirements or restrictions on interstate travel) and the visa holder made a request for a refund on or before 31 December 2022;

The visa was in effect between 6 October 2020 and 10 December 2020, the visa holder was outside Australia on 10 December 2020 and did not enter after that date on that visa, and the visa holder requested a refund on or before 31 December 2022. This circumstance only applies when, at the time the visa holder requests the refund, the visa had either ceased to be in effect or, if the visa had not ceased to be in effect at the time of a request to refund, the visa holder had already asked the Minister to cancel the visa before the application for a refund.

This instrument commenced on 27 February 2021.

Potential travel bubble with Singapore being considered – 15 March 2021

In a positive development for the potential re-opening of Australia’s international borders, talks are currently underway between the Australian and Singapore Governments to create a two-way travel bubble between the two countries.

There is also the potential for a three-country travel bubble with the inclusion of New Zealand.

The Government hopes to have the travel bubble up and running by July or August this year.

It would be an important step in the staged re-opening of Australia’s international borders, as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll-out.

The plan could mark the recommencement of tourism, business and international student travel to Australia.

Under the plan being considered, Singaporean nationals would be able to travel to Australia for work, study or for a holiday without having to complete two weeks’ of hotel quarantine, provided they have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

It could also provide a possible pathway for people from third countries to enter Australia through Singapore, after completing two weeks of quarantine in Singapore.

Alternatively, a person who has received the COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore and who has been issued with a ‘proof of vaccination’ certificate may have their entry to Australia expedited, by potentially removing the need for hotel quarantine, or they may be required to undergo quarantine for a week (subject to Australian government health advice).

You can read more about this here: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australia-and-singapore-plan-for-travel-bubble-and-quarantine-hub-by-july-20210312-p57a57.html

Nil Visa Application Charge for certain Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa applicants – 12 March 2021

A new legislative instrument, which came into effect on 27 February 2021, allows certain former visa holders to apply for a new visa with a nil visa application charge (VAC) where their travel to or stay in Australia has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under this new measure, former holders of a Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa or Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa can apply for a Subclass 482 with a nil VAC if they meet the following requirements:

– the applicant is outside Australia at the time of the application;

– the application is made between 27 February 2021 and 31 December 2022; and

– between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2021, the previous subclass 482 or 457 visa held by the applicant ceased to be in effect.

Eligible family members making a combined application with the primary visa holder in these circumstances are also eligible for the nil VAC.

Green Zone flights from New Zealand to resume – 9 March 2021

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, has announced that the Auckland hotspot should be lifted and Green Zone flights from New Zealand to Australia can resume as of 11.59 pm AEDT Thursday, 11 March 2021.

Individual states and territories may impose conditions for their own jurisdictions in relation to travel from New Zealand.

Travellers should confirm these arrangements before they travel.

You can read more about this in the media release by the Chief Medical Officer, here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/covid-19-cluster-in-new-zealand-0

Extension to international border closure announced – 3 March 2021

The Australian Government has announced an extension to the international border closure by a further three months.

This means that the international border will remain closed until 17 June 2021.

The border closure has been extended due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation overseas, which continues to pose a public health risk to Australia.

An extension of the “human biosecurity emergency period” means that travellers are unable to enter Australia, and citizens are not permitted to depart the country without first obtaining an exemption.

You can read more about this here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-s-international-border-closure-extended-for-another-three-months

NSW, TAS, VIC and QLD impose border restrictions on NZ travellers – 25 February 2021

Despite Australia re-opening its international border to travellers from New Zealand as of 12:01am AEDT on Sunday 21 February 2021, new border restrictions have since been imposed in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.

These changes are:

NSW: travellers arriving into NSW from Auckland after 12.01 am on 25 February 2021 are required to complete mandatory hotel quarantine for at least 14 days;

VIC: the state has classified Auckland as a “red zone”, which means anyone arriving in Victoria from Auckland is required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days from Wednesday 24 February 2021;

QLD: the state has removed New Zealand’s “safe travel country” designation. This means all arrivals to the state are required to quarantine (as of 6pm on Wednesday 24 February 2021);

TAS: travellers who have been in the Auckland region in the 14 days before arriving in Tasmania are not permitted to enter the state, unless approved as an Essential Traveller.

You can read more about this here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-25/nsw-victoria-queensland-impose-travel-covid-19-restriction-on-nz/13189896

South Australian border reopens to travellers from Greater Victoria – 26 February 2021

The South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, has announced that travellers from Greater Melbourne will be permitted to enter South Australia from 12.01am on Friday 26 February.

There will be no requirement for these travellers to complete quarantine, or to undergo COVID-19 testing.

This comes after the state removed travel restrictions for travellers from regional Melbourne last week.

You can read more about this here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-24/sa-to-open-to-greater-melbourne-and-ease-dancing-restrictions/13186294

COVID-19 Concessions introduced for eligible Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa applicants – 23 February 2021

COVID-19 concessions have been extended to eligible Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa applicants.

Under these changes, eligible applicants may apply for, and be granted the visa offshore, during the COVID concession period, which commenced on 1 February 2020.

The following changes also apply to offshore applicants:

The requirement to have worked full-time in a specified regional area for a total of at least 1 year has been reduced to 9 months; and

The requirement to have lived in a specified regional area for a total of at least 2 years has been reduced to 18 months.

Onshore applicants are also subject to the reduced 9-month employment requirement. However, the 2-year residence requirement still applies.

The COVID-19 concession period is a temporary arrangement with an end date yet to be announced.

These changes apply from 19 September 2020.

Quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand resumes – 21 February 2021

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) have advised that Green Zone flights from New Zealand to Australia can now resume, as of 12:01am AEDT on Sunday 21 February 2021.

The following entry conditions apply:

All passengers travelling from New Zealand on a green zone flight who have been in Auckland for any period over the last 14 days are required to provide evidence at check-in of a negative PCR test, conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled flight departure.

Routine pre-departure and on arrival screening will continue.

These conditions will apply until 12:01am AEDT on 1 March 2021.

You can read more about this in the media release by the Chief Medical Officer, here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/green-zone-travel-from-new-zealand-resumes

South Australian border reopens to travellers from regional Victoria – 18 February 2021

The South Australian Government has reopened its border to travellers from regional Victoria as of 12:01 am 18 February 2021.

Entry into the state is permitted, provided travellers have not been in Greater Melbourne on or after 12.01 am on 4 February 2021.

Travellers from Greater Melbourne are still unable to enter South Australia.

Exemptions are available to essential travellers and to people relocating to South Australia, South Australia residents returning and people escaping domestic violence.

You can read more about this here: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions#sa

Quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand suspension extended – 17 February 2021

The Government has extended the suspension of Australia’s quarantine-free travel bubble by a further three days.

This means that all travellers from New Zealand up until 12.01am (AEDT) on Sunday 21 February will are required to undergo 14 days hotel quarantine.

Further advice will be provided as developments occur.

You can read more about this in the media release by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/further-pause-on-new-zealand-green-zone-flights

COVID-19 Concessions introduced for holders of Subclass 188 Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa – 17 February 2021

COVID-19 concessions have been extended to Subclass 188 Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa holders who have been disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic and would therefore otherwise be unable to meet the requirements to qualify for a permanent visa.

One requirement to qualify for a Subclass 888 Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa in the Business Innovation stream is that applicants must have been physically present in Australia for at least 1 year in the 2 years immediately before the application is made.

Under these changes, time spent offshore during the ‘COVID-19 concession period’ will count as time in Australia for the following visa holders:

• Subclass 188 Business Innovation stream; and
• Subclass 188 Business Innovation Extension stream.

The COVID-19 concession period commenced on 1 February 2020 and is a temporary arrangement with an end date yet to be announced.

To be eligible for this concession, the first Subclass 188 visa in the Business Innovation stream must have been granted on or before 30 June 2019.

Commencement dates for grant of offshore visas in Australia announced – 16 February 2021

The Department of Home Affairs (the Department) has announced the commencement dates for certain offshore visas to be granted in Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

This will mean applicants who are in Australia, but are unable to travel offshore to be granted the visa because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, can be granted that visa onshore.

This temporary COVID-19 visa concession will apply to the following Partner and Child visa subclasses from 27 February 2021:

– Subclass 10 Child visa
– Subclass 102 Adoption visa
– Subclass 445 Dependent Child visa
– Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa
– Subclass 309 Partner visa

This concession will also apply to the following Parent visas from 24 March 2021:

– Subclass 103 Parent visa
– Subclass 173 Contributory Parent visa
– Subclass 143 Contributory Parent visa

You can read more about this on the Department’s website, which you can access here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/covid-19-visa-concessions

Quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand suspended – 15 February 2021

The government has announced the suspension of Australia’s quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand, following the emergence of three COVID-19 cases in Auckland.

This means that travellers arriving in Australia from NZ from 12.01am on 15 February must complete 14 days hotel quarantine for an initial 72-hour period.

Further advice will be provided as developments occur.

You can read more about this here: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw-marks-28-days-without-a-local-covid-19-case-best-since-start-of-pandemic-20210214-p572b3.html

South Australian border closure announced for travellers from Greater Melbourne – 11 February 2021

The South Australian government has announced the closure of its border to travellers from Greater Melbourne, which commenced at 12:01 am on 11 February 2021.

These travel restrictions do not apply to Essential Travellers.

Exempt Persons (SA residents, genuine relocations and people escaping domestic violence) may seek an exemption, with approval from SA Health required prior to entry.

Travellers from Greater Melbourne who are approved as Exempt Persons are required to self-quarantine at a suitable place for 14 days upon arrival in SA and submit to COVID-19 testing on days 1, 5 and 12).

You can read more about this here: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions

Potential for re-opening of international border in early 2022 – 8 February 2021

In positive news for the potential reopening of Australia’s borders, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan has indicated that international tourists could be allowed back into the country in early 2022.

Quarantine-free international travel may also resume with the introduction of ‘travel bubbles’ with other COVID-Safe countries.

A new vaccination passport, to prove that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, will be a major step forward in the Government’s efforts to reopen Australia’s borders and welcome back international travellers, with the vaccine rollout set to begin in the coming weeks.

You can read more about this here: https://7news.com.au/sunrise/on-the-show/federal-government-reveals-when-international-borders-may-reopen-after-game-changing-development-c-2115987

Free COVID-19 Vaccine for all visa holders in Australia – 4 February 2021

The Government has announced that all visa holders in Australia will be eligible to access the COVID-19 vaccine for free.

This includes those who have had their visa cancelled but who still remain in the country.

You can read more about this here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/government-secures-10-million-additional-doses-of-pfizer-jab-and-extends-vaccine-program-to-all-visa-holders

Interstate border restrictions – 2 February 2021

Some interstate border requirements have changed based on the current situation around the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia.

The current Perth lockdown has led to the introduction of new border restrictions across the country.

The border to Queensland has now also re-opened to travellers from Sydney.

You can read more about this here: https://www.9news.com.au/national/border-restrictions-australia-western-australia-queensland-sydney-wa-enters-five-day-lockdown-coronavirus/b587a224-ed4f-473d-b4e5-56fbc7d721eb

Fee discounts offered by some universities to international students – 1 February 2021

Fee discounts are being offered by some universities to international students who are unable to enter Australia as a result of travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 and who are studying online.

This includes the University of Adelaide, which is offering a discount of up to 20% for semester 1 2021 to new and continuing international students who are “unable to travel to Australia due to border restrictions” but who still are committed to studying in Australia.

You can read more about this here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/feb/01/universities-discount-fees-for-international-students-stuck-outside-australia

Quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand recommences – 31 January 2021

Australia has recommenced its quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand.

This comes after quarantine exemptions had been paused on 25 January as a result of the emergence of 3 COVID-19 community transmission cases in New Zealand.

Travellers from New Zealand are still, however, required to undergo COVID-19 screening before and after their flight for 10 days following the announcement (until 10 February).

You can read more about this here: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/31/australia-reopens-travel-bubble-with-new-zealand

Ofshore Partner visas to be granted in Australia – 28 January 2021

The Government has announced that people who have applied offshore for a Parent, Subclass 173 Contributory Parent or Subclass 143 Contributory Parent visa and who are in Australia and unable to depart due to COVID-19 impacts can now be granted that visa onshore.

This temporary change to the visa grant requirements are due to come into effect in the first quarter of 2021.

You can read more about this here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-28/government-announces-changes-parent-visas-coronavirus-travel/13100252

Queensland border re-opens to travellers from New South Wales – 28 January 2021

The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has announced that the Queensland border will re-open to travellers from NSW on 1 February 2021.

This decision comes after QLD imposed a hard border with NSW on 21 December 2020, following the emergence of two coronavirus clusters on the Northern Beaches and Berala, in the city’s south-west.

You can read more about this here: https://www.9news.com.au/national/queensland-border-decision-greater-sydney-annastacia-palaszczuk-coronavirus/1a013b83-046e-40e3-a50f-c9af5855d00a

Quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand suspended – 26 January 2021

The Government has temporarily suspended the quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand after the emergence of a new case of community transmission of the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant.

Currently, any New Zealand arrivals will need to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for a minimum of 72 hours (since the announcement was made). If the temporary pause is extended, this may change to up to 14 days in quarantine.

All arrivals from New Zealand on or since January 14 must undergo a COVID-19 test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

You can read more about this here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-25/greg-hunt-australia-new-zealand-travel-bubble-coronavirus/13089832

Australia’s international border may not re-open in 2021 – 18 January 2021

The Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr Brendan Murphy, has indicated that Australia’s international borders may not fully re-open in 2021, even if the majority of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

This is due to fact that it is unknown whether the vaccine will prevent the transmission of the virus.

You can read more about this here: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/18/australia-unlikely-to-open-borders-in-2021-even-with-vaccines

Interstate border restrictions – 16 January 2021

In the latest interstate border restriction updates, travellers from Greater Brisbane can now travel to Victoria without requiring an exemption.

They do, however, need to apply online for a permit to enter the state.

They are also required to complete a COVID-19 test within three days of arriving in VIC, and isolate until they receive a negative result.

Western Australia has also reclassified Victoria to a ‘low-risk’ jurisdiction, meaning travellers can now enter the state without needing a special exemption, however they are required to have a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine for a fortnight.

You can read more about the current rules that apply to interstate borders across Australia, here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-16/border-restrictions-covid-qld-nsw-vic-sa-tas-act-wa-explained/13063796

Interstate border restrictions could continue for next 6 months – 13 January 2021

Changing interstate border rules are likely to continue for at least for the next six months, according to University of Melbourne epidemiologist, Tony Blakely.

Border closures have been used by various state and territories throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a measure to contain outbreaks of the virus.

Given the emergence of a new UK strain which is highly transmissible, and until the country can vaccinate enough of the population to develop ‘herd immunity,’ indications are that resuming usual travel and business operations will be delayed.

You can read more about this here: https://www.smh.com.au/national/border-wars-tipped-to-rage-on-for-at-least-six-months-20210113-p56ts4.html

Interstate border restrictions – 11 January 2021

Some interstate border requirements have changed based on the current situation around the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia.

It is important to stay across these rule changes if you are planning on travelling interstate. Learn about the current state of play of Australia’s internal borders here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-11/qld-nsw-tas-sa-act-nt-wa-vic-border-closures-hotspots-explained/13047690

Planned return of international student return to New South Wales delayed – 12 January 2012

The Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, has announced that plans to commence returning 1000 international students to Sydney each week have been put on hold.

This has come as a result of the emergence of a new mutation of the COVID-19 virus, and since the recent outbreaks in the northern beaches and in western Sydney.

The State Government had originally sought to fill a third of quarantine places with international students and skilled migrants, however, the changing situation has caused it to vary its plans at this time.

You can read more about this here: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/hard-to-see-a-safe-corridor-nsw-shelves-plan-for-return-of-international-students-20210107-p56scz.html

Negative COVID-19 test required for travellers to Australia – 8 January 2021

The Government has announced that international arrivals to Australia must now return a negative COVID-19 test before they travel to Australia, with limited exemptions for seasonal workers. Travellers will also be tested on arrival.

For passengers on flights from the United Kingdom, they will be subject to rapid testing for the new strain of coronavirus before they board their flights to Australia.

In other changes announced, international passenger caps will be reduced by 50% until 15 February 2021, and masks will be mandatory on all international and domestic flights.

You can read more about this here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-08/national-cabinet-coronavirus-uk-strain-flights-masks-mandatory/13041946

Resumption of international travel to be decided by the Government, not airlines – 5 January 2021

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, has released a statement confirming that decisions about the resumption of international travel will be made by the Australian Government once international arrivals do not pose a risk to Australians.

He also reiterated that ‘operations and ticket sales … are commercial decisions for airlines.’

This comes in response to Qantas resuming ticket sales for flights to the USA and UK from 1 July 2021.

Aviation analysts say it is unlikely that travel to the US or UK will resume this year. Aviation expert and chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, Neil Hansford, says if flights do recommence this year, these will most likely be to New Zealand , the Pacific Islands, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Cambodia and/or Vietnam.

You can access the media release by the Minister here: https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/mccormack/media-release/statement-qantas-international-ticket-sales

You can also read more information on Qantas reopening flight sales here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-07/qantas-flight-to-us-uk-unlikely-to-get-off-ground-by-july/13036656

Interstate divisions exposed – 23 December 2020

Regional and state divisions have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one expert in social and political sciences at the University of Melbourne, Professor Andy Dawson.

What was once seen as a unified country has been turned on its head due to the pandemic, having created a sense of regionalism and state identity, and in the process, has revealed the tenuous and vulnerable nature of the federation.

Professor Dawson believes this attitude existed before COVID-19, but that it was ‘latent and under the surface.’

But epidemiology alone is not the only factor driving this, according to Professor Dawson, with politics also playing a part.

The move to close interstate borders has proved to be popular across the population, with communities feeling comfortable with the regional isolationism, driven by regional identification and a ‘fear of regional outsiders.’

This phenomenon is not unique to Australia, with a similar experience being seen in Scotland, as the pandemic has heightened calls for Scottish independence.

You can read more about this here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/fear-of-regional-outsiders-expert-says-the-pandemic-has-led-to-a-growth-of-regionalism-within-australia

Failing to abide by COVID-19 restrictions may breach visa conditions – 29 December 2020

The Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, has indicated that temporary visa holders who do not abide by public health orders in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic could be in breach of their visa conditions.

As a result, they may be subject to penalties, including the imposition of a ‘no further stay’ condition, a review of their visa conditions in relation to work rights, or a potential visa cancellation.

These comments were sparked by a large party held at Bronte Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Christmas Day. Some of the attendees are believed to have been backpackers who remained in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic and UK expatriates.

You can read more about this here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-federal-government-is-considering-deporting-backpackers-over-bronte-beach-party

Western Australia opens border to travellers from South Australia – 22 December 2020

The West Australian Government has announced that travellers from South Australia will be permitted to enter the state under the ‘very low risk’ category from 12.01am this Friday 25 December, subject to no further outbreaks of COVID-19 in SA.

From that date, SA travellers entering WA will be required to meet the following conditions:

Complete a G2G Pass declaration, stipulating they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, and which jurisdictions the traveller has been in over the previous 14 days;

Perth Airport arrivals must undergo a health screening and temperature test;

Be prepared to take a COVID-19 test at the airport COVID clinic, if deemed necessary by a health clinician (voluntary asymptomatic testing will be available to all airport arrivals);

Receive a SMS health check reminder one week into their stay in WA; and

Land arrivals will be met at the border checkpoint for a health screening and to have their G2G Pass declaration checked.

Travellers from SA into WA prior to December 25 are still required to comply with the current entry requirements, which includes completing 14 days of self-quarantine.

For more on this announcement, you can access the media release by the West Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, and Minister for Health, Roger Cook, here: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/12/Safer-travel-from-SA-as-it-transitions-to-very-low-risk-category.aspx

Travel Declaration to be completed by travellers to Australia – 22 December 2020

If you are travelling to Australia, you will need to complete the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your departure.

This requirement applies to all travellers who are seeking to enter the country, including:
– Australian citizens and permanent residents;
– persons who are automatically exempt from the travel restrictions; and
– persons who have been granted an individual exemption to the travel restrictions.

You will need to provide your passport and contact details, trip information and destination details.

The information provided in the Declaration will be used to determine if you are subject to quarantine requirements. It also collects your contact details in the event that someone on your flight tests positive to COVID-19.

The declaration is valid for a single flight or journey only.

Once the Declaration is completed, you will receive an email confirmation. This must be presented before boarding your flight, and upon your arrival in Australia.

Failing to complete the Declaration may prevent you from boarding your flight, or you may experience delays upon arrival.

For more information about the Declaration, and to complete the online application, you can access the link on the Department of Home Affairs website here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/australia-travel-declaration

Changes to Prospective Marriage Visas due to COVID-19 – 17 December 2020

The Migration Regulations have been amended to extend the period during which Prospective Marriage Visa holders are permitted to travel to, enter and remain in Australia.

This change has been made to address the impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In ordinary circumstances, holders of the Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa can travel to, enter and remain in Australia for 9 months from the date of visa grant.

Under these changes, the visa holder is permitted to travel to, enter and remain in Australia until 31 March 2022 if:
– the visa was in effect at any time during the period from 6 October 2020 to 10 December 2020; and
– the holder was outside Australia on 10 December 2020.

To read more about this, you can access Migration Amendment (Prospective Marriage Visas) Regulations 2020 – F2020L01577 and the Explanatory Statement here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L01577/Download

International travel ban extended – 16 December 2020

The Federal Government has extended the ban on outbound international travel until 17 March 2021.

This means that Australian citizens and permanent residents need to apply for an exemption to the Australian Border Force (ABF) to leave the country.

The travel ban was originally introduced on 18 March 2020.

It has been extended based on the advice of the Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, and The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), due to the significant public health risk posed by COVID-19 internationally.

To qualify for an exemption, you must meet one of the following requirements:

– your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid;
– your travel is for your business or employer;
– you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not
available in Australia;
– you are travelling outside Australia for three months or longer;
– you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds; or
– your travel is in the national interest.

You can read more about this here: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/international-travel-ban-extended-for-australian-citizens-and-permanent-residents

You can find more information on the requirements and evidence required when applying for a travel exemption here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/leaving-australia

To apply for a travel exemption, the online application can be accessed here: https://travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au/tep

Potential trans-Tasman bubble with New Zealand – 14 December 2020

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has announced a potential trans-Tasman bubble could be established with Australia from early 2021, after Cabinet issued in-principle agreement.

A date will be announced next year, once final details are confirmed.

This is subject to case levels remaining low and approval by the Federal Government. It will also require 28 days with no community transmission in Australia for it to remain open, among other requirements.

Australia’s Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has indicated that the Federal Government would approve the agreement, noting the economic benefits that travel between the two countries would bring.

Such an arrangement would allow quarantine-free travel between the two countries. Currently, only travellers from New Zealand have been permitted to enter Australia without undergoing quarantine (except for Western Australia, which requires a 14-day quarantine upon arrival).

Planning is underway to determine how logistical issues can be managed, including contingencies in the event of an outbreak in Australia.

Airlines also need time to plan their resource requirements, such as ensuring sufficient planes and crew are on hand and ready to resume flights.

You can read more about this here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-14/new-zealand-cabinet-agrees-to-trans-tasman-bubble-with-australia/12981258

International borders set to remain closed for some time – 7 December 2020

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has indicated that Australia’s international borders look set to remain closed for some time yet.

The Government is looking towards re-opening the borders to low-risk counties, with a view to implementing these plans once they have been finalised.

Currently, only travel from New Zealand is permitted. Work is currently underway to determine ways to assess ‘potentially safe countries’ with which travel can resume.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has also advised a Senate committee that visa holders (who were granted discretionary exemptions) accounted for 11% of all returning travellers to Australia since the international borders closed in March to non-Australian citizens and non-permanent residents.

The latest Framework for National Reopening (dated November 2020) sets a target date of Christmas 2020 for quarantine free international travel with New Zealand and other low risk cohorts to resume, as well as international student and seasonal worker pilot programs to expand.

You can read more about this here: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/temporary-visa-holders-worst-hit-as-australia-plans-to-keep-international-borders-shut-for-some-time

The Framework for National Reopening can also be accessed here: https://www.australia.gov.au/framework-national-reopening

Changes To Visa Application Charges, Waivers And Refunds Due To COVID-19 Announced – 12 October 2020

As part of its efforts to ensure that Australia remains an attractive destination for tourists and temporary visa holders who often fill critical skills shortages, the Government has announced the following changes to visa application charges, waivers and refunds for those affected by COVID-19:

Visitor visa holders who are offshore and whose visas have expired, or will expire between Mar 2020 and Dec 2021, will be eligible for a waiver when they apply for a new visa;

Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa holders who have been unable to enter Australia, or who have had to depart before their visa period has expired, will be eligible for a waiver when they decide to return to Australia. Those who cannot return due to exceeding the age limit will be eligible for a refund;

Visa holders in the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme who have been unable to travel to Australia will be eligible for a refund of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) if their visa was granted before 20 March 2020;

The VAC will be waived for temporary employer sponsored skilled visa holders who have been unable to make their initial entry to Australia, or who have departed and seek to apply again;

Prospective Marriage visa holders who have been unable to enter Australia within the 9-month visa period will be eligible to claim a refund for the VAC. This will enable affected visa holders to apply for another visa to travel to Australia to marry once travel is permitted. Applications will be prioritised for visas which have expired. A visa extension will also be available for Prospective Marriage visa holders whose visas remain valid.

You can read more about this announcement in the media release by the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, which you can access here: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/alantudge/Pages/Supporting-tourism-and-agriculture-through-Visa-Application-Charge-changes.aspx

Limited Border Re-opening For Travellers From New Zealand – 2 October 2020

The Government has announced that commencing from Friday 16 October 2020, New South Wales and Northern Territory borders have re-opened to New Zealand residents and travellers who have not been in a designed COVID-19 hotspot in the previous 14 days.

Quarantine arrangements will not apply. At this stage, no plans have yet been announced for travel to commence from Australia to New Zealand.

You can read more about this announcement in the media release by the Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women, Minister for Health, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment, which you can access here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/safe-travel-zone-new-zealand

Visa Concessions Announced For Individuals Affected By COVID-19 – 18 September 2020

Regulations have been released to assist certain temporary & provisional visa holders, including individuals who are on a pathway to permanent residence, who have been disadvantaged by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including border closures, restrictions imposed on businesses & the general economic downturn.

These concessions commence on 1 Feb 2020 & will end on a date that is yet to be announced by the Government.

The changes include:

Applications can be made (and granted) for the Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visa offshore, which also removes the requirement to have held a Student Visa within the 6 months immediately before making the application. There has also been an extension to the period to meet the Australian Study Requirement from 6 to 12 months for applicants prevented from returning to Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, during all or part of the period commencing on 1 Feb 2020 & ending on 19 Sep 2020;

Eligible primary and secondary provisional visa holders (Subclass 489, 475, 487, 495 and 496) & those whose visas expired during the concession period can apply for & be granted a Subclass 887 (Skilled – Regional) visa offshore during the concession period;

Subclass 888 (Business Innovation and Investment) visa applications can be made by primary and secondary former Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment) visa holders whose visas ceased during the concession period when travel was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, if the application is made no more than 3 months after the end of the concession period;

Current & former Subclass 790 (Safe Haven Enterprise) visa holders can count periods during the concession period towards the 42-month requirement in prescribed circumstances.

You can read more about these changes to the Regulations here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L01181/Download

Visa Condition Changes for Skilled And Business Visa Holders Affected By COVID-19 – 23 September 2020

The Department has issued a notice to holders of the following Skilled and Business Visas:

– Subclass 189 Skilled Independent
– Subclass 190 Skilled Nominated
– Subclass 489 Skilled Regional
– Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional
– Subclass 188 Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional)
– Subclass 888 Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent)
– Subclass 132 Business Talent
– Business Skills (Subclasses 890, 891, 892, and 893)
– Subclass 124 Distinguished Talent
The notice addresses visa condition 8504, which applies to visa holders whose visas were granted whilst they were outside Australia. Under this condition:
“the holder must enter Australia as the holder of the visa to which the condition applies before a date specified by the Minister.”

This condition requires visa holders to make their first entry to Australia before the “For first entry, arrive by” date, as specified in the Grant Notification letter. Failing to comply with a visa condition can result in cancellation of the visa.

Given the current circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be circumstances where visa holders are unable to enter Australia at this time, due to global travel restrictions, for example.

The Department has advised that it will not be seeking to cancel a Skilled Migration or Business visa where the only reason for doing so would be due to a breach of Condition 8504.

If a Skilled or Business Visa holder is not able to make their first entry to Australia before the “For first entry, arrive by” date, the issued notice can be used when travelling to Australia during the visa validity period.

The visa validity period is unable to be extended. Once it has ceased, the issued notice cannot be used to enter Australia.

Changes To Travel Restriction Exemptions Announced – 9 September 2020

The Department has recently updated the travel restriction exemption categories.

The following persons are now automatically exempt from travel restrictions and can enter Australia without obtaining an individual exemption:
– an Australian citizen or permanent resident
– an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
– a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members
– a diplomat accredited to Australia (who holds a Subclass 995 Diplomatic (Temporary) visa)
– a traveller transiting Australia for 72 hours or less
– airline crew
– maritime crew including marine pilots
– recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
– holder of a Subclass 188 Business Innovation and Investment visa.

If you are an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident and you hold a temporary visa, or you do not yet hold a valid visa for Australia, you must provide evidence of your relationship to the Department before you travel to Australia. You are advised not to travel until you are notified by the Department that you can.

Evidence can include a marriage certificate, evidence of your de-facto relationship (such as shared finances or property), your birth certificate or birth certificate for your children.

You must carry evidence that you meet one of the above categories whilst travelling. Additional evidence may also be requested.

Individual exemption categories, which require an application for exemption from the travel restrictions to be made, have also been updated.

The following documents, which provide further information on how travel exemptions are assessed, are now available:

– Commissioner’s Guidelines
– Commissioner’s Inward Decision Making
– Inwards Travel Restrictions Operation Directive
– Outwards Travel Restrictions Operation Directive
To access these documents, and for more information about the current travel restrictions and exemptions, please see the Department’s website: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/travel-restrictions

New pilot program announced for international students to return to South Australia – 16 August 2020

Adelaide, South Australia is set to become the first state to enable the return of international students to Australia, with the Federal Government announcing a pilot program of approximately 300 international students from South East Asia to fly in to Adelaide from Singapore in early September 2020.

The program will be used as a test of how to manage the return of international students to Australia nationally and is aimed at reviving the higher education sector due to COVID-19.

Students participating in the program will undertake testing and complete a mandatory supervised quarantine, which will be funded by the universities.

You can read more about this announcement by the Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/hundreds-of-international-students-to-return-to-south-australia-under-national-pilot-program

Financial Support For Victorian Workers On Temporary Working Visas Who Are Self-Isolating Or Quarantining – 31 July 2020

The VIC Government has announced the introduction of one-off payments of $1,500 to financially support Victorian workers (including Subclass 457 and 485 Temporary Working Visa holders) who are required to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.

The Government has also introduced a $300 COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment, to provide financial support to Victorian workers while they self-isolate as they await the results of a COVID-19 test. This payment is available to visa holders with work rights.

You can find more information about these initiatives, here: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/1500-coronavirus-covid-19-worker-support-payment

Support For Temporary Visa Holders In New South Wales – 14 July 2020

The NSW Government has announced funding support for temporary visa holders and specialist migrant and settlement services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible temporary visa holders with be provided with access to food and supplies, medical support, telecommunications, transport and essential housing during COVID-19 (Stream 1).

In addition, funding will also be available to support other services (Stream 2) including:
• culturally appropriate case and support workers;
• transportation and outreach services to connect with isolated communities; and
• interpreting and translation services.

This grant is open to organisations to apply. It is expected that successful organisations will be announced in mid-August 2020. Temporary visa holders will then be able to apply directly to these organisations for assistance. The list of successful organisations will be published on Multicultural NSW’s website.

To be eligible for emergency relief under Stream 1, individuals must:
• Currently reside in NSW
• Demonstrate hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
• Not receive any income assistance (regular living allowance payment) from the Commonwealth Government
• Currently hold a temporary visa which may include (but is not limited to) the following:
– Temporary Working Visa
– Provisional Visa
– Partner and/or Prospective Marriage Visa
– Bridging Visa

Asylum seekers and international students are not eligible as they have been covered in previous funding measures.

To find out more, you can access the NSW Government’s announcement, here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/news/funding-support-for-temporary-visa-holders

Interstate Border Closures

With each state and territory adopting their own interstate border restrictions, and recent changes announced to planned border re-openings amid the recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria, and more recently in New South Wales, keep up-to-date on what the current rules are, here: https://www.escape.com.au/travel-advice/when-travel-restrictions-will-be-eased-in-your-state/news-story/4c012ab906650f47b59b81801480f9ad

International Student Pilot Program Postponed – 9 July 2020

The first international student pilot program announced in response to COVID-19, a joint initiative between the University of Canberra and the Australian National University (ANU), which was to begin in late July, has been postponed indefinitely.

Under the program, 350 current international students were to return to Canberra to complete their studies in semester 2.

They would be required to undertake a 14-day mandatory quarantine in Canberra hotels before being permitted to commence classroom studies.

Strict protocols and testing were also planned to be in place for flights, transfers, and supervised quarantine, with all students requiring a negative test before leaving quarantine.

The scheme was open to students already enrolled in university study, but who have been unable to return due to COVID-19 border closures. Students in their final year of undergraduate study, as well as research, postgraduate and honours students were eligible.

However due to recent COVID-19 developments, the program has been postponed.

In a joint statement by the two universities, Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor and President of the ANU, confirmed that ‘this is not an end to the program – just a delay,’ and that they remain committed to rolling it out ‘when the time is right.’

You can read more about this announcement, here: https://www.canberra.edu.au/about-uc/media/media-releases/2020/july/international-student-pilot-program-postponed

NSW Border With Victoria To Close – 6 July 2020

The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, has announced that the Victorian border with NSW will be closed from 11.59pm on Tuesday 7 July 2020, as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state.

A permit system will be in place for those communities who live on the border and who need to travel to and from work, or to access essential health services.

Going on holidays will not be an acceptable reason for crossing the border.

You can read more about this announcement, here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-06/victoria-nsw-border-to-close-over-coronavirus-fears/12424686

Queensland Borders To Reopen; Victoria Excluded – 30 June 2020

The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has announced that borders will reopen from 10 July 2020 to visitors from all states and territories, except for Victoria.

Those who have travelled from Victoria and are seeking to enter Queensland will be required to quarantine at their own expense for 14 days in a hotel assigned to them by the Government. Affected persons will need to fill in an online declaration stating that they have not been in Victoria in the past fortnight. False declarations will be liable for a $4,000 fine.

You can read more about this, here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-30/coronavirus-queensland-state-borders-reopen-not-victoria/12397720

Restarting The Economy Is The Government’s Top Priority Post COVID-19 Recovery – 18 June 2020

In recent comments, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed his commitment to generating jobs and restarting the economy as his priority as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The re-opening of international borders, however, looks to be some way off, with the current travel restrictions likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, with some possible exceptions. These potentially include important employment and investment work, international students, and entertainment (tours and promotions).

Concerns have been raised by visa holders who remain offshore due to the border closures, fearing they may lose their jobs in Australia due to their inability to return. They are seeking more clarity on when borders will re-open so that they can plan for their futures.

Federal Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham, has also indicated that the nation’s borders are likely to remain closed to tourist-related travel until 2021.

According to former senior Immigration Department official Abul Rizvi, until a vaccine is developed, the likelihood is a gradual return of temporary migrants to Australia based on economic conditions, to fill skills shortages as they arise. He reiterated, however, that this process will be “slow and selective.”

You can read more about this, here: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/australian-borders-may-not-open-to-international-travellers-temporary-visa-holders-anytime-soon

New Pilot Program Announced For Selected International Students To Resume Study In The ACT – 17 June 2020

The ACT Government has announced the launch of a new pilot program, which will allow up to 350 international students to return to Canberra in mid-July before the commencement of semester two, to complete their studies. The scheme is a joint initiative between the University of Canberra and the Australian National University.

As part of the program, all returning students will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine in Canberra hotels before they are permitted to return to classroom studies. The protocols will be in line with the government’s repatriation process for the return of Australian citizens and permanent residents since the border closures were enacted, which have consisted of two weeks of quarantine, screening and testing. Hotel quarantine costs under the pilot scheme will be met jointly by the ACT government and the universities.

The scheme will be open to students who are already enrolled in university study, but who have been unable to return due to COVID-19 border closures. Students in their final year of undergraduate study, as well as research, postgraduate and honours students, will be eligible.

To ensure the success of the pilot program, strict protocols around flights, transfers and supervised quarantine will be implemented. The universities are currently working on the final protocols of the plan and await formal approval by the Federal Government.

Plans are also currently being worked on by the Victorian and Federal Governments with education providers to allow for the return of international students to Victoria. Likewise, NSW has also indicated that it is preparing for the return of international students.

You can read more about this, here: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/up-to-350-international-students-to-land-in-canberra-in-july-under-pilot-program 

Face-To-Face Citizenship Ceremonies To Resume – 8 June 2020

The Government has announced that citizenship ceremonies will resume in-person, with councils now able to host small events, subject to COVID-19 public gathering requirements in each State and Territory.

Online ceremonies will continue to be conducted by councils that are unable to host physical events in line with the required safety measures, and for individuals who cannot attend an in-person ceremony during this period.

You can read more about this, here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/face-to-face-citizenship-ceremonies-to-resume

Proposal For International Students To Return To Australia Under Strict Testing And Quarantine Requirements – 2 June 2020

The Australia Government has previously indicated that it would consider lifting border restrictions to international students under stage 3 of the “Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia.”

This means that students who are enrolled at Australian universities could be permitted to return to campuses in time for their second-semester studies, potentially in July 2020.

To facilitate this plan, Australian universities have been asked by the Government to submit plans for the safe return of international students to Australia, which should feature stringent and supervised quarantine.

A proposal has since been submitted to the federal government by the “Group of Eight,” a body which represents eight leading Australian universities. Under this plan, which also consists of a pilot program, all incoming students to Australia would be required to undergo pre-departure isolation, strict health checks before their arrival, and mandatory quarantine after their arrival in Australia.

You can read more about this, here: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/universities-propose-covid-19-tests-and-quarantine-to-enable-return-of-international-students-to-australia

Border Closures For International Travel Set To Remain Closed; Likely To Be Final Restriction Lifted – 15 May 2020

The Acting Minister for Immigration, Alan Tudge, has indicated that Australia re-opening its borders to international travellers is likely to be some way off, remaining closed to non-Australian citizens and residents for the foreseeable future.

This view was reiterated by the Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, who noted that border restrictions would likely be the final measure lifted in the Government’s response to COVID-19. He also indicated that he does not expect to see any material changes to border closures in the next 3 to 4 months.

There is a possibility, however, for travel to resume with New Zealand, and for the return of international students to Australia as part of stage three of the framework to ease coronavirus restrictions, as previously indicated by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, potentially in July.

Former senior Department official, Abul Rizvi, has also indicated that even when borders do re-open, it is highly likely that the process will be ‘gradual and selective,’ with temporary skilled migrants in occupations that may assist in the nation’s recovery, such as healthcare, potentially allowed an early return.

You can read more about this, here: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/coronavirus-travel-restrictions-when-will-australia-open-its-borders-to-temporary-visa-holders

More information on support measures announced for International students and other temporary visa holders in Australia

State and Territory Governments across Australia have announced a series of measures which are designed to assist international students who are experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read more information about these support programs, here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/what-coronavirus-support-is-available-for-international-students-in-each-state-and-territory  

More information on the NSW program (announced more recently) can be accessed here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-15/coronavirus-nsw-government-package-for-international-students/12254540

Support for International students in New South Wales – 15 May 2020

The NSW Government has announced a new funding initiative for international students as part of a $20 million package to assist those in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new support measure includes a temporary housing scheme, which is targeted at students in genuine need and will be delivered through approved student accommodation or homestay providers.

The scheme also provides increased support via the International Legal Service NSW, making available 50,000 free subscriptions to the multilingual My Legal Mate student app.

In addition, a new 24/7 international student support service, through the NSW Government COVID-19 hotline (13 77 88), will offer free advice and information about other measures, including the moratorium on rental evictions and medical, mental health, legal and emergency support.

For more on this announcement, you can access the NSW Government’s media release, here: https://education.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/nsw-government-supporting-international-students-through-covid-19

Support for International students in Perth

StudyPerth Crisis Relief (SPCR) is a new program established by StudyPerth to support international students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions.

It is available (by application) to international students in Western Australia who are in immediate, emergency need of food or shelter after all other avenues of support from the education provider, relevant consulate, business council or association have been considered.

International students must first advise their education provider of their situation and enquire about support that may be available to them. StudyPerth is unable to provide assistance until this is confirmed, with students who do not have access to support through their institution to be prioritised under the SPCR.

Where appropriate, StudyPerth will refer students to its network of consulates, business councils and associations to find the support needed. If after exploring all these options, the student is still in need to assistance help, they will be advised to apply for SPCR.

For more on this announcement, you can access StudyPerth’s website, here: https://www.studyperth.com.au/covid-19-information/covid-19-information-for-students/

Support for International students in South Australia

The South Australian Government has announced a new $13.8 million International Student Support Package, which is designed to support international students who are currently residing in South Australia and are experiencing financial hardship.

The package comprises the following measures:

The South Australian Government will partner with the state’s three public universities, University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia, to match funding in order to alleviate student hardship as a result of COVID-19;

A $500 emergency cash grant will be available to international students who are not studying at one of these public universities, but who are currently enrolled in a course, living in Adelaide and meet the criteria; and

A one-off $200 COVID-19 assistance payment for school students living with South Australian families to help support accommodation.

This new initiative supplements work already underway by education providers, agents and community groups in Adelaide in helping to support international students during this pandemic.

For more on this announcement, including Frequently Asked Questions, and to register for updates on the application process, you can access the Study Adelaide website, here: https://studyadelaide.com/issp

Australian Red Cross relief for temporary visa holders – 30 April 2020

The Australian Red Cross has announced that it will receive funding from the Australian Government for the next six months to provide emergency relief and casework support to temporary visa holders who have no means to support themselves and who have urgent needs.

Assistance will include food, medicine and crisis accommodation costs.

Visa holders may be eligible for Red Cross Safety Net support if they:
– are in Australia on a temporary visa;
– are in urgent financial hardship;
– cannot access Centrelink, Medicare or similar services;
– have no income, savings or other financial support (including from family overseas).

Eligible visa holders should contact the Red Cross by email for details on when the funds will be distributed.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Australian Red Cross website, here: https://www.redcross.org.au/news-and-media/news/help-for-migrants-in-transition

Support for International students in Victoria – 29 April 2020

The Victorian Government has announced the establishment of a $45 million International Student Emergency Relief Fund, which will see international students receive a relief payment of up to $1,100 for demonstrated lost income, as part of the Government’s emergency support package.

The package aims to ensure that Victoria’s international students can purchase the basics, by providing a one-off payment to those in need whilst also expanding emergency provisions for those students who are experiencing exceptional circumstances.

This new initiative supplements other support measures already in place for international students, which comprise free legal aid and mental health services through the Study Melbourne Student Centre; subsidies of up to $2,000 under the Victorian Government’s rent relief program; and the Working for Victoria initiative, which assists eligible applicants who have lost their jobs to find new employment.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, Martin Pakula’s media release, here: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/emergency-support-for-victorias-international-students/

Support for temporary visa holders in the ACT – 28 April 2020

The ACT Government has announced the establishment of a $450,000 support package for temporary visa holders and international students affected by COVID-19, who are ineligible for Commonwealth assistance programs.

The package is a partnership between the ACT Government and the ACT Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian (RASH) Coordination Committee, the Australian Red Cross and local tertiary institutions.

As part of the package, the Australian Red Cross will have their existing emergency support program extended, with $160,000 allocated to assist temporary visa holders including people on temporary work visas and safe haven enterprise visas.

The Red Cross will also work with tertiary institutions to provide $150,000 in ACT Government support to international students who have been impacted by COVID-19 and are experiencing financial hardship.

This new initiative supplements the existing assistance programs already in place, namely, the ‘Jobs for Canberrans package,’ which prioritises immediate short-term employment to casual or semi-skilled workers on temporary visas who are ineligible for the Job Seeker and Job Keeper programs; and the Canberra Relief Network, which provides food for temporary visa holders. ACT Government funding has also been allocated to assist Canberrans facing homelessness or experiencing domestic and family violence.

For more on this announcement, you can access Minister Chris Steel’s media release, here: https://www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/chris-steel-mla-media-releases/2020/act-provides-more-support-for-temporary-visa-holders-and-international-students

South Australia announces changes to processing of state nominated visas for section 48 bar applicants – 22 April 2020

Immigration South Australia (SA) has announced changes to processing of state nominated visas for section 48 bar applicants.

Applicants who do not hold a substantive visa (which is a visa other than a bridging, criminal justice or enforcement visa) and have had a visa refused or cancelled since they last entered Australia, are subject to a section 48 bar. This means they can only apply for a visa onshore if it is prescribed for this purpose, which does not include a skilled nominated visa.

Section 48 bar applicants for SA nomination are subject to the following processing changes:

In light of the current travel restrictions, applications that have already been lodged by 21 April 2020 with Immigration SA will be put on hold until 30 June 2020. Applicants are advised to notify Immigration SA if they are affected by section 48 and are unable to travel offshore to lodge a valid visa application;

For new applications for state nomination on or after 21 April 2020, applicants who are affected by the section 48 bar and are unable to travel offshore to lodge a valid visa application cannot lodge an application for state nomination with Immigration SA. The state will no longer nominate applicants who are unable to travel offshore to lodge a valid visa application.

For more on this announcement, you can access Immigration SA’s website, here: https://www.migration.sa.gov.au/news-events/news-releases/processing-of-state-nominated-visas-for-s48-bar-applicants

Support for temporary visa holders in Tasmania – 22 April 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced that financial support will be available to temporary visa holders who are experiencing hardship and income loss as a result of the loss of employment due to COVID-19.

The following four step process will apply to assist those who are affected:

Eligibility for Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants will be extended to temporary visa holders who can demonstrate genuine financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This will provide an immediate payment of $250 per individual or up to $1,000 per family;

Additional funding will be provided to non-government organisations to provide additional emergency relief and assistance where required;

For visa holders who can safely return to their home country, the Tasmanian Government will assist with travel advice, and if necessary, due to genuine financial hardship, financial support will also be provided on a case by case basis;

The Tasmanian Government will work with industry sectors or employers who seek to retain their employees because of their specialist skills in the State for when their business is able to start up again, and will provide additional support in partnership with them so that skilled workers that the State needs will not be lost.

Up to $3 million will be allocated towards this initiative.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Premier, Peter Gutwein’s media release, here: http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/releases/support_for_temporary_visa_holders

Visa work conditions for international students working in the health and disability sectors relaxed – 23 April 2020

The Government has announced temporary changes to international student work conditions in its efforts to boost frontline health workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the changes, international students enrolled in medical university or vocational courses and who are working to support coronavirus health efforts at the direction of the relevant State or Territory health authority will be exempt from the 40-hour per fortnight work limit.

This exemption will also apply to students currently working for registered disability service providers.

These measures are temporary and will be reviewed regularly.

Previously announced work exemptions for students working in supermarkets have now ended, as of 1 May 2020. The exemptions continue to apply to workers in the aged care sector (student nurses and other aged care workers), who are temporarily permitted to work unlimited hours.

For more on this announcement, you can access the joint media release by the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Mr Alan Tudge, with Mr Greg Hunt and Mr Stuart Robert, here: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/alantudge/Pages/boosting-health.aspx

Australian citizenship ceremonies to continue via secure video link – 6 April 2020

Due to COVID-19, it is not currently possible to hold traditional citizenship ceremonies in-person. To ensure that the citizenship process continues through the pandemic, the government has announced that it will now hold online citizenship ceremonies via secure video link.

For applicants who have already been approved for Australian citizenship, the Department is trialling one-on-one ceremonies. For those unable to access the internet and who have an urgent need, the Department will make appropriate arrangements to ensure the ceremony can take place safely in accordance with the health advice.

New applicants may apply for Australian citizenship throughout this period. Citizenship interviews and testing have been put on hold indefinitely.

Applicants who have a Citizenship appointment or ceremony scheduled over the coming months will be contacted to make alternative arrangements.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Mr Alan Tudge’s media release, here: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/alantudge/Pages/statement-on-australian-citizenship-processing.aspx

Support for International students in the Northern Territory – 19 February 2020

The Northern Territory Government has announced that support is available to international students who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, including those affected due to international travel restrictions and self-isolation health guidelines.

StudyNT, which provides support to international students studying in the NT, has created care packages for international students who are currently in self-isolation.

For more information and to seek assistance, you can access StudyNT’s website, here: https://studynt.nt.gov.au/news/support-international-students-impacted-coronavirus

Temporary changes to the Pacific Labour Scheme, Seasonal Worker Program and Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa programmes announced – 4 April 2020

The Government has announced temporary changes to the Pacific Labour Scheme, Seasonal Worker Program and Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa programmes in response to COVID-19. This is designed to assist farmers to meet their workforce needs to secure Australia’s food and produce supply during the pandemic. Here are the changes:

  • Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme workers can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers (ensuring pastoral care and accommodation needs of workers are met to minimise health risks to visa holders and the community);
  • Approved employers under the Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme will need to continue engaging with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on labour market testing to ensure recruitment of Australians first;
  • WHM’s who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer, and will be eligible for a further visa to continue working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months;
  • To support implementation of self-isolation arrangements for visa holders and avoid spread of COVID-19, the Government is working with States and Territories on enforcement and sanction mechanisms;
  • Employers will need to commit to providing safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements; and
  • Arrangements will need to be in place for a declaration between employers and employees that all protocols necessary to ensure human health and accommodation requirements have been met.

For more on this announcement, you can access the media release, here: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/supporting-agriculture-workforce-covid-19.aspx

Changes to temporary visas announced – 4 April 2020

The Australian Government has announced changes to temporary visas, as part of its response to COVID-19. The main ones are:

  • International students who have been in Australia for more than 12 months who are experiencing financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation;
  • From 1 May 2020, the maximum allowable work hours for students working in the major supermarkets will return to 40 hours per fortnight;
  • Subclass 444 visa holders who arrived in Australia before 26 February 2001 will have access to welfare payments & the JobKeeper payment. Those who arrived after have access to the JobKeeper payment, and if they have lived in Australia for 10 years or more, access to JobSeeker payments for six months;
  • Temporary Skilled visa holders on 2- or 4-year visas who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity, and businesses will be able to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Work hours can be reduced, and visa holders will be able to access up to $10,000 in superannuation this financial year;
  • Temporary Skilled visa holders on a 4-year visa who have been laid off due to coronavirus and who are re-employed after will have their time already spent in Australia counted towards their permanent residency skilled work experience requirements;
  • Working holiday makers will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer, and be eligible for a further visa in the critical sectors of heath, aged and disability care, agriculture & food processing, and childcare if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months; and
  • Temporary graduate visa holders will be able to access their Australian superannuation if needed.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge’s media release, here: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/Coronavirus-and-Temporary-Visa-holders.aspx

The Department of Home Affairs has also released further information and Frequently Asked Questions for temporary visa holders, which you can access, here.

New border restrictions for Queensland – 3 April 2020

In a further update, the Queensland Government has announced that new border restrictions apply, effective from 12.01am on Friday 3 April 2020, to allow only Queensland residents and those considered an ‘exempt person’ to cross the border.
Additionally, restrictions preventing interstate FIFO workers (except for certain positions in certain resource industries) apply from 11.59pm on Saturday 4 April 2020.
Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can currently travel to Australia.
All persons arriving in Queensland from overseas are required to self-quarantine in a nominated place for 14 days, as instructed by a relevant government officer, regardless of whether Queensland is the person’s final destination.
People who meet the criteria for ‘exempt person’ should apply online for a Queensland Entry Pass to avoid delays at the border (this can be accessed at the link below).
Queensland residents and exempt persons who are allowed entry must self-quarantine if they have travelled in the last 14 days overseas, or to a COVID-19 hotspot in Australia.
These new border restrictions replace those which applied previously, meaning that you will no longer be able to enter Queensland unless you are an ‘exempt person.’ Previously you could enter Queensland if you were not exempt from the restrictions, provided that you agreed to a 14-day self-quarantine period. That quarantine option is no longer available.
For more on this announcement, including frequently asked questions and a fact sheet, you can access the Queensland Government’s news release, here: https://www.qld.gov.au/about/newsroom/queensland-border-restrictions

New border restrictions for Western Australia – 2 April 2020

The Western Australian Government has announced that further border restrictions will apply in response to COVID-19. As a result of these changes, from midnight, or 11.59pm on Sunday, 5 April 2020, entry to Western Australia will no longer be permitted, without an exemption.
Exemptions are currently being finalised, and will include people who perform work functions, such as:
  • health services;
  • emergency service workers;
  • transport, freight and logistics;
  • specialist skills not available in WA;
  • national or State security and governance; and
  • courts and judicial services.
There will also be exemptions for FIFO workers and their families, who will be subject to strict 14-day self-isolation measures when they first enter the State.
Further exemptions will also apply based on specific compassionate grounds. Additional information will be released soon.
For more on this announcement, you can access the Premier, Mark McGowan’s media release, here: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/04/Temporary-border-closure-to-better-protect-Western-Australians.aspx 

New enforced quarantine measures introduced in the Northern Territory – 30 March 2020

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (NT), Michael Gunner, has announced that from midnight on Wednesday 1 April 2020, all persons entering the NT from interstate (including Territorians returning home), will be required to spend 14 days in enforced quarantine in a hotel (not in self-quarantine). This will be at the Government’s expense. This mirrors the rules that currently apply to overseas arrivals.

Additionally, from midnight on Friday 3 April 2020, all arrivals into the NT will be required to cover the cost of their quarantine.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Chief Minister’s media release, here: http://newsroom.nt.gov.au/mediaRelease/32140

New intrastate travel restrictions announced for Western Australia – 27 March 2020

The Western Australian Government has announced that from midnight on Tuesday, 31 March 2020, further restrictions on travel within the State will come into effect in response to COVID-19.
 
As a result of these travel restrictions, Western Australians will not be permitted to leave their regional boundary.
 
Exemptions will apply in prescribed circumstances, including:
  • employment purposes;
  • medical or veterinary reasons;
  • delivery of essential services (including health or emergency services);
  • people living across regional boundaries, who may not have access to groceries or supplies immediately within their region;
  • transport of goods;
  • compassionate grounds;
  • a family member has primary care responsibilities;
  • for school, TAFE or tertiary study reasons; or
  • to escape domestic violence or due to an emergency.
 
For more on this announcement, you can access the Premier, Mark McGowan’s media release, here: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/03/WA-travel-restrictions-come-into-place-from-midnight-Tuesday.aspx

 

Enforced quarantine measures announced for all arrivals to Australia – 27 March 2020

The Australian Government has announced that from 23:59 (AEDT) on 28 March 2020, all persons entering Australia will be required to undertake their mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (for example, a hotel), in their port of arrival.

Travellers will be transported directly to designated facilities after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks.

Designated facilities will be determined by the relevant state or territory government and will ordinarily be in the city of entry where the traveller has cleared immigration, but facilities in other areas may be used, if required.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Australian Border Force news release, here: https://newsroom.abf.gov.au/releases/new-arrangements-for-arrivals-from-overseas

For the latest updates on travel restrictions and quarantine arrangements, see the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, which you can access here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

New self-isolation measures announced for Tasmania – 25 March 2020

The Premier of Tasmania has announced that effective from 25 March 2020, all non-essential travellers to Tasmania must sign a notice that they understand the rules regarding self-isolation and what their obligations are. There are also stringent rules applying to accommodation places in the state, and compliance is mandatory.

All non-essential passengers will be instructed to travel directly to their place of residence. If they do not have a place of residence in Tasmania, they will be required to return to their port of departure, or they will be directed to Government provided accommodation for the self-isolation period and charged a fee for that service.

Whilst in self-isolation, individuals will be monitored and provided with support if required. They will be charged with an offence if they do not comply with the rules.

If placed into self-isolation, all household members are required to self-isolate for the 14-day period. If a member of a couple or a family, then all persons in the household must self–isolate for the 14-day period and must not leave the property where self-isolation is taking place. If this cannot be managed effectively due to an essential occupation needing to continue, or because of risk to other vulnerable persons in the household, then self-isolation must take place in accommodation at another setting, at the State’s cost.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Premier of Tasmania’s media release, here: http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/releases/additional_coronavirus_management_measures

New overseas travel ban for Australians – 24 March 2020

The Australian Government has announced that Australian citizens and permanent residents are restricted from travelling overseas from 25 March 2020 at 12:00hrs (AEDST).

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.

Exemptions from this travel restriction must be applied for online to the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force. The link can be accessed here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/covid19-enquiry-form

For more on this announcement, you can access the Prime Minister’s media statement, here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-24-March-2020

For the latest updates on travel restrictions, see the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, which you can access here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

Self-isolation measures announced in South Australia – 22 March 2020

The South Australian Government has announced that in response to the coronavirus pandemic, from 4pm on Tuesday 24 March, all persons entering South Australia will be required to isolate for 14-days from their arrival. This will apply to South Australians (including those who return from interstate), other Australians and travellers.

Exemptions will apply for essential transport including health and medical supplies, health personnel and patients, food and commercial supply chains (i.e. the carrying of goods), health workers, near border interactions, travel of a relative/carer of a dependant individual, and emergency services.

Other travellers (such as fly-in-fly-out workers in the mining industry or national level sporting teams) may be exempt from this provision provided they had approved disease control mechanisms in place.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Premier, Steven Marshall’s media release, here: https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/news/media-releases/news/south-australias-borders-to-close

Self-isolation measures announced in Western Australia – 22 March 2020

The Premier of Western Australia has announced the implementation of new restrictions and arrival requirements for interstate arrivals to Western Australia in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

From 1.30pm (WST) Tuesday, March 24, Western Australia will implement strict border controls for all access points, by road, rail, air and sea.

All arrivals from interstate will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, unless an exemption applies.

Exemptions will apply to essential services and workers, including health and emergency services, defence and policing, mining industry workforces, flight crews and freight of essential goods, via ports and trucks.

There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds and where people live near border communities.

Arrivals will need to show they meet the essential criteria to be granted an exemption.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Premier’s media release, here: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/03/New-border-controls-to-help-protect-Western-Australia.aspx

New border restrictions for interstate arrivals in the Northern Territory announced – 21 March 2020

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (NT) has announced that the NT Government will implement new border restrictions and arrival requirements in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

From 4.00pm Tuesday 24 March, the NT will impose strict border controls for all access points, by road, rail, air and sea.

All interstate arrivals to the NT will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Exemptions will apply to health and emergency services, defence and policing, flight crews and freight.

Arrivals will need to show they meet the essential arrival criteria to be granted an exemption.

There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Chief Minister’s media release, here: http://newsroom.nt.gov.au/mediaRelease/32111

New quarantine measures announced for Tasmania – 19 March 2020

The Premier of Tasmania has announced new border restrictions, as it declares a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak. From midnight, Friday 20 March, all non-essential travellers departing for Tasmania will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

The quarantine period will not apply to essential travellers, such as health care workers, emergency workers, defence personnel, air and ship crew, specialists, and essential freight personnel (truck drivers/spirit freight).

These travel restrictions also do not apply to Tasmanian residents on its islands, such as King and Flinders, flying into mainland Tasmania. But they will apply to anyone travelling inbound to the island from mainland Australia, including residents returning home to the island. Mainland Australians flying into the islands, then onto mainland Tasmania, will need to self- quarantine when they arrive.

All passengers will be screened on arrival and must demonstrate they meet the essential traveller criteria.

If they are deemed non-essential, they will be required to quarantine themselves at their stated place of address.

For more on this announcement, you can access the Premier of Tasmania’s media release, here: http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/releases/nation_leading_border_restrictions_to_protect_tasmanians

Travel ban to Australia for non-citizens and non-residents announced –  19 March 2020

The Prime Minister has announced that a travel ban will apply to all non-citizens and non-residents of Australia from AEDT 9pm tonight, 20 March 2020. Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members, including spouses, legal guardians and dependants are exempt from these border restrictions.

New Zealand citizens who live in Australia as Australian residents are also exempt, as are New Zealanders transiting to New Zealand. Exemptions for Pacific Islanders transiting to their home countries will continue to apply. You must carry proof of residency (driver’s licence or documents in relation to your residency).

Australian citizens and permanent residents and those exempt from entry restrictions will continue to be subject to 14 days self-isolation at home or in a hotel.

Immediate family members must have a visa to travel to Australia. Those who hold a temporary visa must submit an ‘Australian Immigration Enquiry Form’ to the Department of Home Affairs, with evidence such as a marriage certificate if you are married, or evidence of your de-facto relationship such as shared finances or property. Also provide your birth certificate and/or birth certificate for your children. Do not travel to Australia until you are advised by the Department that you are permitted to do so. A copy of this form can be accessed on the Department of Home Affairs website (see the link below).

Partner and Child visa holders (except for Prospective Marriage visa holders) can come to Australia.

To see more on this announcement, you can access the joint media release by the Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women, Minister for Home Affairs, here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/border-restrictions

For more on these updated travel restrictions, you can access the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

Bupa Medical Visa Services temporarily suspends new medial appointments – 18 March 2020

Due to the current ongoing situation resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, Bupa Medical Visa Services has announced that is it currently not taking any new bookings and is rescheduling some existing bookings. New bookings will become available in the coming days once existing bookings have been rescheduled.

Customers with existing bookings will be notified shortly if their appointment needs to be rescheduled. No action is required by customers at this time. Bupa will contact customers as soon as possible to reschedule appointments.

For all new bookings, a ‘Request for Appointment’ form must be completed. Bupa will contact customers to make a booking. No further action is required by customers at this time.

For more information, see the Bupa Medical Visa Services website, which can be accessed here: https://www.bupa.com.au/bupamvs

Administrative Appeals Tribunal announces changes to operations – 20 March 2020

Temporary changes to hearings and conferences have also been announced by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which will come into effect from this Friday 20 March 2020.

The AAT will temporarily cease ‘in person’ hearings, conferences and other events at its registries and instead aim, where possible, to deal with cases by telephone or video link. Affected parties will be contacted to discuss alternative arrangements.

The AAT is now also closed to all visitors from Thursday 26 March 2020, until further notice.

New applications can be lodged online. Documents for applications which have already been lodged can also be submitted online.

AAT registries continue to operate at this time and can be contacted through online services, by email or by telephone. Staff remain available to support hearings and other scheduled events, answer enquiries, process applications and deliver other services.

For the latest updates, see the AAT website, which you can access here: https://www.aat.gov.au/impact-of-coronavirus-covid-19-on-our-services

Work restrictions on international student nurses removed – 18 March 2020

The Prime Minister has announced visa work conditions for international student nurses will be relaxed, to assist in workforce continuity for aged care facilities, home care providers and other health care workers in response to the coronavirus.

As a result of these changes, international student nurses and other aged care workers will be permitted to work more than the 40 hours a fortnight. This measure will be examined on an ongoing basis.

To see the Prime Minister’s announcement, you can access the media statement here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures

The joint media release by Alan Tudge, the acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs and Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck can be accessed here: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/international-students-ready-to-fill-critical-staff-shortages-in-aged-care.aspx

New self-isolation rules for all travellers to Australia announced – 15 March 2020

The Australian government has announced that as of midnight on 15 March 2020, all travellers to Australia will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. This includes Australian citizens and permanent residents and their immediate family members holding permanent visas. Temporary visa holders need to contact the Department of Home Affairs before travelling to Australia (using the Australian Immigration Enquiry Form, which can be accessed at the link below).

Cruise liners from foreign ports are also banned from arriving at Australian ports for 30 days.

These changes are indefinite and will be reviewed each week.

As a result of measures implemented in response to the coronavirus, see the following additional important information for travellers to Australia:

Onshore visa holders seeking to extend their stay in Australia may apply for an appropriate visa (which may, in many cases, be a visitor visa). Those who are subject to a ‘No Further Stay’ conditions can apply to the Department for a waiver (the relevant visa conditions are 8503, 8534 and 8535);

Visa holders who are required to enter Australia by a specified date and are prevented from doing so by the travel restrictions may request an extension to their entry date by contacting the section of the Department which issued the visa; and

Bridging B visa holders who are currently offshore and are unable to return before their expiry date may consider applying for a visitor visa to return to Australia. A Bridging Visa A can then be applied for once onshore.

To see the Prime Minister’s comments on these new measures, you can access a transcript of the announcement from his press conference here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/transcript-press-conference

For the latest updates on travel restrictions, see the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, which you can access here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

Temporary removal of work restrictions for international students in supermarkets – 13 March 2020

The Australian Government has announced that international students currently employed at the major supermarkets, including Coles and Woolworths, will be able to extend their working hours (beyond the maximum 40 hours a fortnight during term) to help meet high demand for essential items due to the coronavirus. This initiative is designed to assist supermarkets to meet immediate demand with their existing work force and also provides international students with more flexibility to work while studying to support themselves.

These changes apply only to existing employees in their existing roles. This measure is temporary and will be reviewed, as required.

The joint media release by the acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge and Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, notifying of this measure can be accessed here: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/more-help-aussie-shelves-stocked.aspx

Travel bans to continue for foreign nationals arriving from mainland China, Iran, Republic of Korea; Italy now also added – 11 March 2020

In a further announcement, the travel bans which currently apply to mainland China, Iran, South Korea and Italy, will continue to remain in place. As a result of these ongoing measures, foreign nationals who are or have been in:

– mainland China on or after 1 February 2020;

– Iran on or after 1 March 2020;

– Republic of Korea on or after 5 March 2020; or

– Italy on or after 11 March 2020

will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through the relevant country. Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter Australia, as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependants only). They will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day they left the relevant country.

Limited exemptions apply to airline and maritime crew where appropriate precautionary measures have been taken.

For the latest updates on travel restrictions, see the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, which you can access here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

For more on the Prime Minister’s announcement, you can access a transcript of the announcement from his press conference here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-4

Travel bans to apply to foreign nationals arriving from the Republic of Korea – 5 March 2020

The Australian government has announced that the travel bans which currently apply to mainland China and Iran, have been extended to South Korea, as of 5 March 2020.

These new measures mean:

Foreign nationals who are in the Republic of Korea on or after 5 March 2020 will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through the Republic of Korea; and

Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter Australia, as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependants only). They will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day they left the Republic of Korea.

Enhanced health screening and temperature testing arrangements have also been implemented for travellers arriving from Italy.

The existing travel restrictions for mainland China and Iran continue to apply.

To read more about this announcement, you can access the joint media release by the Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Health, here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-australia-0

Further information about existing and new travel restrictions are also available on the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, which you can access here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

Travel bans to apply to foreign nationals arriving from Iran – 29 February 2020

New travel restrictions also now apply to foreign nationals who are in Iran on or after 1 March 2020. They will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days, from the time they have left or transited through Iran.

The travel ban for Iran does not apply to:
• Australian citizens;
• Australian permanent residents; or
• immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents (spouses, legal guardians or dependants only).

Persons exempted from the travel ban will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day they left Iran.

You can read more on the announcement made by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, and the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, here: https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/press-conference-about-coronavirus-covid-19-with-the-chief-medical-officer

For more on these new travel restrictions, see the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, which you can access here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

Travel ban to continue for foreign nationals arriving from mainland China – 27 February 2020

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has announced that the existing travel ban, which applies to foreign nationals who have been in mainland China in the past 14 days, will continue to remain in place for a further week, to 7 March 2020.

The travel ban does not apply to:
• Australian citizens;
• Australian permanent residents;
• New Zealand citizens resident in Australia;
• immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependants and legal guardians; or
• diplomats .

Limited exemptions previously announced for Year 11 and 12 students who remain in China (except from those from Hubei Province) to enter Australia to resume their studies, will continue to apply.

The Government continues to monitor developments in response to the coronavirus outbreak, in what is looking increasingly likely to be declared as a global pandemic. Health and travel arrangements are being reviewed on an ongoing basis.

To see the Prime Minister’s comments notifying of the continuation of the travel ban, you can access a transcript of the announcement from his press conference here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-4

For more on these updated travel restrictions, see the Department of Home Affairs news and media website, which you can access here: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus

New pathway announced for secondary school students arriving from mainland China to resume studies in Australia – 22 February 2020

The Government has announced a pathway for year 11 and 12 secondary school students who are foreign nationals and who remain in mainland China (excluding students in Hubei province) due to Australian travel restrictions arising from the novel coronavirus outbreak, to resume their studies in Australia.

Affected students will be required to follow the same strict isolation conditions that apply to Australian citizens and permanent residents who return from China. They will be provided with information on the self-isolation requirements they will be subject to and how to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms whilst in self isolation.

Under this measure, the Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner may grant an exemption to each student on a case-by-case basis. Subject to meeting a set of 13 specified requirements, State and Territory governments will be able to apply for exemptions to the current travel restrictions.

The joint media release by the Minister for Health, Minister for Education, Victorian Minister for Education & Deputy Premier of Victoria, and the Australian Chief Medical Officer notifying of this measure can be accessed here: https://ministers.education.gov.au/tehan/facilitating-china-based-students-attend-year-11-and-12

Travel ban to continue for foreign nationals arriving from mainland China – 20 February 2020

The Australian Government has extended the travel ban on foreign nationals entering Australia for a further week to 29 February 2020. As a result, the following arrangements will continue:

  • Foreign nationals who have been in mainland China will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they left mainland China;
  • These restrictions do not apply to Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or to their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians and dependants), who will still be able to enter Australia;
  • Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and their families who have been in mainland China from 1 February 2020 and who return to Australia are required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they left mainland China; and
  • People who have been in contact with someone confirmed to have coronavirus must self-isolate for 14 days from the time they were in contact with that person.

The Government continues to monitor developments and will review health and travel arrangements on an ongoing basis.

The joint media release by the Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Health notifying of the continuation of the travel ban can be accessed here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/continuing-travel-ban-protect-australians-coronavirus

Travel ban to continue for foreign nationals arriving from mainland China – 13 February 2020

In a further update to the Australian Government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the travel ban which was introduced on 1 February 2020, will remain in place until at least 22 February 2020. It will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

Visa holders who remain offshore with impeding visa expiry dates should allow sufficient time to re-apply for a new visa or an extension on their current visa.

Onshore visa holders who seek to remain in Australia and who are subject to a no further stay condition (thus preventing a further visa application from being made onshore) who are seeking to have this condition waived should do so before applying for a new visa. The current approximate wait time to waive visa condition 8503 is approximately 28 days.

Applicants in mainland China should not apply for an eVisitor due to the travel restrictions. However, immediate family members of an Australian citizen or permanent resident may continue to apply for a Subclass 600 Visitor Visa.

International students who are affected by the travel ban and therefore remain offshore should contact their education provider to discuss their options going forward (measures have been put in place by the various providers).

The joint media release by the Prime Minister and Health Minister notifying of the extended travel ban can be accessed here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/extension-travel-ban-protect-australians-coronavirus

The Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, as also announced that mental health support is now available to affected international students, with the establishment of call centres to answer students’ questions about their health and education.

For further information on these services, please refer to the Minister’s media release here: https://ministers.education.gov.au/tehan/mental-health-support-international-students


New travel ban announced for foreign nationals arriving from mainland China

Under new measures announced by the Australian Government in response to the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, certain travellers to Australia from mainland China will be subject to entry restrictions, effective from 1 February 2020. Travellers who have departed or transitioned through China at any time from 1 February 2020 will not be permitted to enter Australia. These new rules do not apply to:

  • Australian citizens;
  • Australian permanent residents; and
  • immediate family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents, including spouses, minor dependents and legal guardians.

If exempted family members have been in mainland China, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they left mainland China.

Travellers who are subject to these restrictions will not be able to board a flight to Australia. Those who do arrive in Australia will have their visa cancelled and will be placed in immigration detention for quarantine. All affected temporary visa holders will have their visas cancelled. 

Foreign nationals who were in mainland China will not be allowed to enter Australia until 14 days after they have left, or transited through, mainland China.

For travellers who are permitted to enter Australia, a 14-day period of self-isolation is required from the date of departure from mainland China. 

Impact on Student Visas

Student visa holders who are unable to return to Australia as a result of these measures should contact their education provider to discuss other options, such as deferring their studies. Student visa holders who are already in Australia and who have a pending visa expiry cannot have their visa extended. If eligible, they can apply for a new Student visa or other visa onshore. If ineligible, they must depart Australia by the visa expiry date.

Contact us to book a no-obligation consultation for your student visa!

Impact on Pending Visas and New Visas

Visa holders in Australia with a pending visa expiry can apply for a new visa (if eligible) if they seek to remain in Australia. Affected visa holders who are unable to enter Australia before their current visa expires cannot extend their visa period; they will need to apply for a new visa (subject to the above entry restrictions).

These measures are temporary and will be reviewed in the next fortnight. 

Get More Information and Updates

For further information about the coronavirus and safe travel outside Australia, please refer to Department of Health and Smart Traveller updates.

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References

Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs, Immigration and Citizenship, Australian Government travel restrictions 1 February 2020, News, 01 Feb 2020 Novel coronavirus and Australian visas

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/archive/article?itemId=355

Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs, Immigration and Citizenship, Australian Government travel restrictions 1 February 2020, News, 01 Feb 2020 Novel coronavirus and Australian visas – Fact sheet – Novel coronavirus – Information for student visa holders – 1 February 2020

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/archive/article?itemId=355#

Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs, Immigration and Citizenship, Australian Government travel restrictions 1 February 2020, News, 01 Feb 2020 Novel coronavirus and Australian visas – Fact sheet – Novel coronavirus – Information for visa holders and applicants – 1 February 2020

https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/archive/article?itemId=355#

Australian Government, Department of Health – Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

Smartaveller.com.au

https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/