Travel Exemptions Information on how the Novel Coronavirus affects your Australian visa, sponsored-workers or travel plans

PASSENGER ARRIVAL CAPS

25 November 2021: 9AM (AWST)

 

23 November 2021: 9AM (AWST)

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LATEST NEWS

22 November 2021: 9AM (AWST)

Fully vaccinated skilled visa holders may travel to Australia without an exemption

If you are vaccinated and hold one of the visa subclasses as below, you do not need a travel exemption to travel to Australia. Please keep in mind that each State/Territory has additional restrictions and quarantine requirements, so please consult with your immigration specialist before booking travel.

Children aged under 12 years count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes. Their passport will be used as proof of age.

Accepted vaccines

Two doses at least 14 days apart of:

AstraZeneca Vaxzevria
AstraZeneca Covishield
Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty
Moderna Spikevax
Sinovac Coronavac
Bharat Biotech Covaxin
Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for 18-60 year olds).
Or one dose of:
Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.

 

Visa subclasses

Subclass 200 – Refugee visa
Subclass 201 – In-country Special Humanitarian visa
Subclass 202 – Global Special Humanitarian visa
Subclass 203 – Emergency Rescue visa
Subclass 204 – Woman at Risk visa
Subclass 300 – Prospective Marriage visa
Subclass 400 – Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa
Subclass 403 – Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (other streams, including Australian Agriculture Visa stream)
Subclass 407 – Training visa
Subclass 408 – Temporary Activity visa
Subclass 417 – Working Holiday visa
Subclass 449 – Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) visa
Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa
Subclass 461 – New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa
Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday visa
Subclass 476 – Skilled – Recognised Graduate visa
Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa
Subclass 485 – Temporary Graduate visa
Subclass 489 – Skilled – Regional (Provisional) visa
Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa
Subclass 500 – Student visa
Subclass 580 – Student Guardian visa (closed to new applicants)
Subclass 590 – Student Guardian visa
Subclass 785 – Temporary Protection visa
Subclass 790 – Safe Haven Enterprise visa
Subclass 870 – Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
Subclass 988 – Maritime Crew visa

 

 

 

30 October 2021: 9AM (AWST)

s48 bar - no need to go offshore to lodge 491/494 and 190 visas

Estrin Saul Lawyers has been tirelessly lobbying the Minister for Immigration to change the laws relating to visa options for applicants who have been refused or cancelled a visa onshore (in Australia). Through the Law Council, we lobbied, held meetings with the Department and the Minister and prepared legislation to ensure applicants would not have to leave Australia to lodge new visa applications.

We are extremely pleased to advise that the Minister has accepted most of our recommendations and passed a new law that, from 13 November 2021, those who have been refused or cancelled a visa onshore and are affected by "section 48", will now be able to lodge a visa application for the following without having to leave Australia:
  • Subclass 190 – Skilled Nominated (Permanent);
  • Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional); and
  • Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional).

29 October 2021: 3PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - Restricted travel into the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Government will only permit fully-vaccinated returning Territorians and their immediate family to disembark in Darwin from the Qantas London - Darwin - Sydney flights.

This restriction means that returning Australians and other travellers on these flights with a residential address outside the Northern Territory will be flown to Sydney to enter 14-days mandatory supervised quarantine.

 

25 October 2021: 3PM (AWST)

COVID-19 update - Parents to be exempt from travel restrictions

From 1 November 2021, the definition of 'immediate family member' will include the parents of adult Australian citizens and permanent residents. Parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to travel to Australia and apply for a travel exemption as an 'immediate family member'.

The definition includes:

  • biological parents;
  • legal (including adoptive) parents;
  • step-parents; and
  • parents in-law.

If you need urgent assistance with travel exemptions, please contact info@estrinsaul.com.au

1 October 2021: 3PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - International travel for Australians.

Leaving Australia

  • As recently announced by the Prime Minister, all Australian citizens and permanent residents, who are fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccine, will soon be eligible for international travel without the need to apply for a travel exemption. Australian citizens and permanent residents will need to show proof of their vaccination status (International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate issued by MyGov) at airport check-in on departure.
  • This is available to fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents aged 12 years or over, children under 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
  • Unvaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents must continue to apply for a travel exemption to leave Australia. The Australian Government has not provided information on when this will apply, however, it is anticipated to start mid-November 2021. Commercial flights out of Australia are also anticipated to resume for fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents.

Fully Vaccinated Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents Returning to Australia

  • Fully vaccinated Australian citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for home quarantine for seven days, instead of completing mandatory fourteen day quarantine in a designated medi-hotel in their port of arrival.
  • Currently, only two States have been listed as eligible, NSW and SA. NSW will be able to offer this option once vaccination rates have reached 80% and subject to the State's success of home quarantine trials. Whereas, SA will be able to offer this option once the State's vaccination rate has reached 80% of people ages 16 and over.

Unvaccinated Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents Returning to Australia

  • If you are unvaccinated, you will still be required to undergo mandatory quarantine at a designated medi-hotel in your port of arrival for fourteen days.

Recognised Vaccine

  • To be considered as fully vaccinated, Australian citizens or permanent residents must be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
  • Currently, only Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and the Janssen vaccine are recognised by the TGA.
    The TGA have advised that the Chinese-made Sinovac and the Indian-made Covishield vaccines would also be considered "recognised vaccines" when determining whether an incoming international traveller has been appropriately vaccinated.

Flights & Pre-flight testing

  • COVID-19 pre-flight testing is still a requirement. All Australian citizens or permanent residents will be required to show evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours or less prior to the scheduled flight. Masks must also be worn during the flights, including in airports.
  • The Australian Government is in the process of approving the use of the COVID-19 rapid antigen testing to assist with this arrangement.

18 August 2021: 12PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - Travel exemption for Prospective Marriage visa holder

  • New travel exemptions for Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa holders in the following circumstances:
    • where the subclass 300 visa has been granted; and
    • the subclass 300 visa application was lodged at least 12 months before submitting a travel exemption request.
      This means if you applied for a subclass 300 visa on or before 18 August 2020, and you have now been granted your subclass 300 visa; you are eligible for an inwards travel exemption on 18 August 2021.

27 July 2021: 11AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - Vaccine rollout - occupations added

  • Three occupations of Hospital Pharmacist (251511), Industrial Pharmacist (251512) and Retail Pharmacist (251513) have been added to the Priority Skilled Migration Occupations List (PMSOL)

2 July 2021: 10:15AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - International arrivals to be halved

  • As the government moves to a management rather than a suppression strategy, international arrivals will be cut in half under a plan agreed to by National Cabinet to try to prevent the highly infectious delta strain leaking into the community. The weekly intake figure will go from 6,370 to 3,185.
  • The government will trial shorter 7 day quarantine period for vaccinated passengers.

COVID-19 Update - 408 visa - Tourism and Hospitality

  • Tourism and hospitality has been added to the critical sectors of agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care for eligibility for the Subclass 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa. Temporary visa holders employed in the tourism and hospitality sector are now able to access this SC 408 stream for a period of 12 months.
  • Temporary visa holders working in, or intending to work in, tourism and hospitality will be able to apply for the SC 408 COVID-19 Visa up to 90 days before their existing visa expires and then remain in Australia for up to 12 additional months.
  • The previous 40 hour fortnightly limit applied during study periods will not be enforced for student visa holders who are working in the tourism and hospitality industry.
  • The Department is taking a flexible approach to students working beyond the usual work limitations in the following industries:
    • employed in the health sector, enrolled in a health related course (such as nursing or medicine) and are directed by a health official to assist in the effort against COVID‑19
    • employed in aged care by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider before 8 September 2020
    • employed by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider before 23 April 2020
    • employed in the agriculture sector
    • employed in the tourism and hospitality sector

14 January 2021: 11:00AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - Rules for travel

  • All travellers must have returned a negative test before boarding a flight to Australia. There have been no timelines yet provided as to whether this needs to be done 48-96 hours prior to boarding
  • Masks must be worn on all flights for both Domestic and International travel, and at all times while onboard the aircraft
  • Masks must be worn in all Domestic Airports by all people except those with exemptions and children under 12
  • Masks must be worn in all International Airports (transit included)
  • Until 15 Feb incoming passenger caps cut in NSW (1505), QLD (500), and WA (512). There are no changes to limits for other states
  • Arrangements on international passenger caps will be reviewed again by National Cabinet in early February

28 July 20: 1:00PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - New exemptions for critical skills and critical sectors

  1. Exemption categories for those with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services:
        • medical technology
        • critical infrastructure
        • telecommunications
        • mining and engineering
        • supply chain logistics
        • agricultural technology
        • food production
        • maritime industry
  2. Exemption categories for those delivering services in sectors critical to Australia's economic recovery, where no Australian worker is available:
        • financial technology
        • large scale manufacturing
        • film and television production
        • emerging technology
  3. Other exemption categories:
        • where a person's entry would "otherwise be in Australia's national interest; and
          the application is supported by a State or Territory government authority.

COVID-19 Update - What happens when you fly into Perth from overseas?

  • at the departure airport, your visa/citizenship status is ascertained. If you are a visa holder, you must show your visa grant notice and federal COVID-19 exemption.
  • at the layover airport, you are asked to show the same documents.
  • at Perth airport, you are provided with a G2G Pass form to fill out, proceed to Australian Border Force clearance and to baggage claim. You are then greeted by WA Police to process the G2G Pass. If granted, you are escorted to a bus and dropped off at your quarantine hotel.

 

30 June 20: 1:00PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - Travel exemptions - prolonged processing

  • In and outbound travel exemptions are taking up to 3 weeks to process
  • The Department of Home Affairs has allocated additional resources but processing is very slow
  • There are thousands of requests in the pipeline
  • Often refusals occur because there is insufficient evidence

 

10-Apr-2020: 1:00PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - Early Access to Superannuation - Key points for visa holders (including bridging visa holders)

  • For Australian citizens or permanent residents, if your working hours were reduced by 20% or more since 1 January 2020, you can access up to $10,000 of your superannuation.
  • For temporary visa holders, you can access up to $10,000 of your super if you meet one of the following three criteria:
    • You hold a student visa that you have held for 12 months or more and you are unable to meet immediate living expenses.
    • You are a temporary skilled work visa holder, your working hours have reduced to zero and you remain engaged with your employer.
    • You are a temporary resident visa holder (excluding student or skilled worker visas) and you cannot meet immediate living expenses.You can apply for early release directly through the Australian Tax Office (ATO) from 20 April 2020.  The government instructions are currently as follows:
       
      What to do immediately
      • Go to my.gov.au and create an online account if you don’t already have one; and
      • Follow the ‘Intention to access coronavirus support’ options and register your intention.

      What to do after 20 April

      • From 20 April, you can either complete the online application form through the ATO portal in my.gov.au or call the ATO and apply over the phone.
      • From 20 April, in my.gov.au You will be shown a list of all your open super accounts (you may have more than one) and the account balance for each. Please note, the account balance shown may not have been updated since 30 June 2019.
      • You will then input the amount of super you’d like to withdraw from your account. Remember, the limit for each financial year is $10,000. So, if you have multiple accounts, the combined amount can’t exceed $10,000.
      • You will then give the ATO with the details of the bank account you want your early release paid into.

6-Apr-2020: 11:00AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - New COVID-19 visa stream and temporary visa extensions - Key points

  • Tourists or those visiting friends and family in Australia who can return to their home country have been "encouraged" by the Government to do so. This is not an option for some, especially those more susceptible to infection, or those who simply, as genuine visitors, wish to spend more time with their friends and family in Australia.
  • Those who wish to extend their stay can usually apply for an onshore visitor visa. They must show they have adequate means to support themselves and that they remain genuine visitors. While these visas are normally straight forward for most applicants, given the government's negative position on stay extensions, we recommend seeking assistance from a migration professional.
  • Those who have condition 8503 (no further stay) attached to their visa must apply for a waiver first before applying for any other visa.
  • Temporary visa holders with "no other visa options" who cannot depart Australia due to travel restrictions and have 28 days or less remaining on their current substantive visa may be able to apply for a special subclass 408 visa - COVID-19 Pandemic event stream.
  • Temporary visa holders with "no other visa options" whose substantive visa has already expired less then 28 days ago, may be able to apply apply for a special subclass 408 visa - COVID-19 Pandemic event stream*. They must also be unable to depart Australia due to travel restrictions.
  • Temporary visa holders who wish to remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors including healthcare, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic can also apply for the special subclass 408 visa - COVID-19 Pandemic event stream. They will be granted permission to work in these areas.
  • Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer.
  • WHMs will also be eligible for a further visa to keep working in these sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.The aim is to allow them to continue working until the coronavirus crisis has passed.
  • Seasonal Worker and Pacific Labour Scheme workers can apply for a further visa up to 12 months to work for "approved employers".

 

2-Apr-2020: 6:30PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Update - 457/TSS visa holders and reduced work hours

According to today's media release by Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge:

  • Reducing 457/482 visa holders' work house is allowed for COVID-19 affected businesses. We read this as an undertaking by the government not to enforce sanctions or cancel visas for technical breaches;
  • Hourly rates should be maintained and salaries pro-rated;
  • Reductions in salary are generally unlawful unless agreed to by the employee. Ensure you obtain employment law advice before reducing pay, rather than hours - this could affect other sponsorship obligations;
  • Employees who are stood down (but not laid off) will not be subject to cancellation - they are still considered employed - the Minister acknowledged that the skills shortage that led to the grant of the visa may still be present when the crisis has passed;
  • Redundancies will be handled strictly - sponsors must notify the Department within 28 days of the employee's last day of work;
  • Employees who are made redundant will have 60 days to find a new sponsor or leave Australia;
  • Consider alternatives to redundancies if possible - remember sponsors have an obligation to pay some repatriation costs for employees and their families - this could be much costlier than reducing work hours or other leave arrangements;
  • Leave without pay (LWOP) may be acceptable and we recommend using this an alternative where possible;
  • Visa holders can withdraw up to $10,000 from their super for this financial year;
  • Time counted in Australia prior to COVID-19 pandemic will be counted towards permanent

 

19-Mar-2020: 7:30PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Travel Alert - Qantas, Jetstar follow Virgin Australia and suspend international flights

  • Qantas and Jetstar have moved to suspend all scheduled international flights from late March. Essential domestic, regional and freight connections will be maintained as much as possible.
  • This follows Virgin Australia's decision to temporarily suspension of all international services and make further cuts to their domestic network until 14 June 2020.
  • See the Qantas websiteand Virgin Australia website for further updates.


19-Mar-2020: 6:00AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Migration update - Bupa Medical Visa Services (MVS) suspends medical bookings

  • Bupa MVS has announced that they are not taking new bookings until existing bookings have been rescheduled.
  • Customers with existing bookings will be contacted if their appointment needs to be rescheduled. No action is required by the customer at this time.
  • See the Bupa MVS website for further updates.


18-Mar-2020: 4:00PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Migration update - TPV/SHEV holders

  • Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) and Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) holders are strongly advised against travelling at this time.
  • SHEV/TPV holders who are currently outside Australia should make immediate arrangements to return to Australia.
  • SHEV/TPV holders who are in Iran (or another country with a complete travel ban) should make their way immediately to a third country which does not have a complete ban, where they will need to remain for 14 days before entering Australia.
  • If SHEV/TPV holders need to change their travel plans, they should email a copy of their new travel itinerary and a request to vary their approved travel plans to: travel.request@homeaffairs.gov.au

 

18-Mar-2020: 4:20PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Migration update - New arrangements in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

  • Starting from 20 March 2020, the AAT has announced it will temporarily cease 'in person' hearings, conferences and other events and instead aim to deal with cases by telephone or video-link.
  • AAT registries will continue to operate at this time and will contact impacted parties to discuss alternative arrangements.
  • See the AAT website for further updates.


18-Mar-2020: 3:15PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Migration update - New arrangements in the Federal Court

  • The Federal Court of Australia has commenced communicating with parties listed for hearing in the upcoming months. Parties will be asked to identify if listings can be conducted by telephone or videoconference, or whether they can be dealt with on the papers.
  • See the Federal Court website for further updates.


18-Mar-2020: 14:30AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Migration update - New arrangements in the Federal Circuit Court

  • The Federal Circuit Court has also commenced reviewing upcoming migration matters to determine if they can be conducted appropriately by telephone or videoconference. If the matter requires a hearing in person, it is likely to be postponed subject to the urgency of the case (e.g. detention matters).
  • See the Federal Circuit Court website for further updates.


18-Mar-2020: 11:00AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Migration update - Increased work hours for student nurses and aged care workers 

  • The Prime Minister has also signalled relaxing international student nurses and other aged care workers 40-hour limit work conditions. No further information has been released at this time.
  • Details were provided in the Prime Minister's media release.


18-Mar-2020: 9:30AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Travel Alert - DFAT issues highest advice

  • The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a Level 4 advice - "do not travel overseas". This is the highest level advice the Department can issue.
  • Australian overseas are advised to return as soon as possible.
  • With Virgin suspending all international flights (except for inbound flights until 29 March), all signs point to an inevitable lockdown.
  • If you wish to extend your stay in Australia or are overseas on a Bridging visa B that is expiritng soon, contact Estrin Saul Lawyers immediately for advice.


18-Mar-2020: 14:30AM (AWST)

COVID-19 Travel Alert - Key points

  • Absolute travel bans continue for mainland China, Iran, South Korea and Italy, as well as cruise ships;
  • All passengers arriving in Australia from overseas must now self-isolate for 14 days. Heavy penalties for non-compliance may apply;
  • Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families holding permanent visas may enter Australia but will be forced to self-isolate;
  • New Zealand citizens living in Australia will be allowed to enter and self-isolate, however the situation is unclear for partners holding subclass 461 visas;
  • Partners and immediate families with temporary visas (such as subclass 300, 309 and 820 visas) will be dealt with on a case by case basis at the airports. Entry is not guaranteed;
  • "No further stay" waivers as a result of travel restrictions will be considered and additional resources have been allocated to processing;
  • Bridging visa B holders who cannot return before their entry expiry date cannot extend offshore - contact Estrin Saul Lawyers for urgent visitor visa arrangements to ensure you can return on time.


13-Mar-2020: 15:00PM (AWST)

COVID-19 Migration update - Increased work hours for selected student visa holders

  • Supermarket employers can now apply for the relaxation of enforcement of the 40-hour limit work condition for student visa holders.
  • To apply, visit the Department of Home Affair's website.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

  • Department of Home Affairs: For up-to-date information on Australia's travel restrictions, self-isolation periods and other issues affecting visa holders.
  • Department of Health: For the latest news and alerts from the Australian Government on COVID-19.
  • Smart Traveller: For up-to-date travel advisories from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

 

URGENT VIDEO & TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS

Do you have an upcoming visa expiry? If you are a visa holders with a visa expiry soon, we recommend you schedule a video or telephone consultation with one of our Lawyers or Registered Migration Agents to ensure arrangements are in place to extend your stay in Australia. With an increasing number of countries implementing travel bans, it is important that you always hold a visa which allows you to remain until it is safe to depart.

Are you a sponsored-worker who has been asked to take leave? If you are a Subclass 482, 457, 407 or 494 visa holder who has been asked to take leave from work, we recommend you schedule a video or telephone consultation with one of our Lawyers or Registered Migration Agents to ensure you are not breaching your visa conditions.

Need advice on managing your workforce during the COVID-19 outbreak? Our Lawyers / Registered Migration Agents are ready to provide employers of sponsored-workers with advice on managing work arrangements while still remaining compliant with Australia's immigration regulations.

Contact our offices on (08) 9485 0650 to organise an urgent video or telephone consultation. Estrin Saul Lawyers’ Perth and Adelaide offices remain fully operational and our staff are available to assist during this period of concern. However, for the safety of our clients, staff and the broader community, our staff will be conducting all appointments via teleconference or video-conference until the situation normalises.