All international arrivals to self-isolate
As of midnight 15 March 2020 all Australian international arrivals are required to self-isolate for 14 days. This applies to all international arrivals, regardless of visa status or whether the individual is displaying any symptoms associated with the coronavirus. Please refer to this link for self-isolation guidelines by the NSW Department of Health. Heavy penalties apply for breaches of an order to self-isolate and police may step in to enforce these orders. The penalties differ between states, with New South Wales implementing penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $11,000.
It is our recommendation that all visa holders entering Australia in the next few weeks factor in the 14 day self-isolation period into your work/study start date or arrange a work from home/hotel arrangements for this required period.
The Australian government continues to impose travel restrictions on anyone who has left or transited mainland China, Iran, South Korea and Italy within the previous 14 days and who are not Australian citizens, permanent residents, New Zealand citizens resident in Australia, diplomats or an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Immediate family members have been defined by the government to include spouses (including de facto partners), legal guardians and dependents.
This means, Australian visa holders who are not exempt and have left or transited mainland China, Iran, South Korea and Italy within the previous 14 days will be denied entry into Australia.
International cruise ships are now also banned from arriving at Australian ports for the next 30 days.
Special arrangements are in place for airline and maritime crew staff where specific containment arrangements are in place.
Partners and immediate families of Australian citizens and permanent residents holding temporary visas
The Department of Home Affairs will be treating partners and immediate families of Australian citizens and permanent residents - spouses, minor dependants or legal guardians only - holding temporary visas on a case by case basis.
It is recommended that before attempting to travel that they contact the relevant Australian post using the Australian Immigration Enquiry Form provided on the Department's website.
Extending stay in Australia and no further stay conditions
The Department of Home Affairs has announced onshore visa holders wishing to extend their stay in Australia should apply for an 'appropriate' visa. In many cases this may be a visitor visa.
Onshore visa holders with a "no further stay" condition on their current temporary visas may be able to apply for and obtain a waiver to allow them to extend their stay.
Please advise us if you have any individuals who may need to obtain a waiver and extend their stay.
Requirement to enter Australia by a specified date
Some Australian visas are granted with a "first entry date" specified on their visa approval. This generally applies where the visa holder is offshore when their permanent residence visa is approved, or for subclass 400 visas. Where visa holders are required to enter Australia by a specified date on their visa grant and are unable to do so due to travel restrictions, they must request and extension of time to enter the country.
The Department of Home Affairs has also advised that any individuals who are currently offshore and holding a Bridging Visa B, and are unable to return before the expiration date due to travel restrictions, may want to consider applying for a visitor visa to return to Australia. Once in Australia, they may then apply for their Bridging Visa A to be reinstated. Please do note that this will have implications on work rights so please do seek our advice if any of these situations apply to you or your employees.
Requirement to be onshore at the time of lodgement
For particular visa applications it is a requirement that the visa applicant be onshore in Australia at the time of lodgement.
We strongly recommend to seek our advice if you consider that the travel restrictions and 14 day self-isolation will present any issues with this requirement.
Those wishing to travel from countries where Australia already has travel bans in place, will be required to spend at least 14 days in a third country where travel bans to Australia are not in place before proceeding to Australia.
Visa cancellation warning from the Department of Home Affairs
The Department of Home Affairs are now issuing the following warning on the grant of temporary Australian visas.
"While you have met the requirements for, and have been granted your visa, please be aware that restrictions remain in place for travel to Australia. Until these strict restrictions are lifted, you are not allowed to enter Australia until 14 days after you have left, or transited through, countries identified as being impacted by COVID-19 virus. Limited exceptions are listed on the Department of Home Affairs website.
If you attempt to travel to Australia, either directly or indirectly from one of the identified countries, and you do not meet one of the exceptions, your airline may not allow you to board the flight. If you arrive and it is determined that you have been in one of the identified countries within the past 14 days, your visa may be cancelled.
Please go to the Department of Home Affairs website for the latest information on the list of countries from where travel has been restricted due to the COVID-19 virus.