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/
New exemptions from travel restrictions announced – 9 September 2020
The Department of Home Affairs (the Department) has announced that the following persons are now automatically exempt from travel restrictions and can enter Australia without obtaining an individual exemption:
- Australian citizens and permanent residents; – 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; and
- holders 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.
You can find more information about the current travel restrictions and exemptions on the Department’s website, which you can access here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/travel-restrictions-0
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.
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/studyperth-crisis-relief/
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
Frequently Asked Questions for temporary visa holders
The Department has produced a guide on Frequently Asked Questions for temporary visa holders, which you can access here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/frequently-asked-questions
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
New border restrictions for Western Australia – 2 April 2020
- 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.
New enforced quarantine measures introduced in the Northern Territory – 30 March 2020
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
- 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.
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/news/covid-19-temporary-closure-of-aat-registries-to-vi
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.
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