Travel bans, temporary visas, and useful tips: Coronavirus Update

We recently wrote about Australia’s extended travel ban on foreign nationals from mainland China. This travel ban has since been extended to three other countries: Iran, the Republic of Korea and Italy.

Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who have been in those countries will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through those countries.

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

Specifically, you should not travel to Australia if:

If you attempt to travel to Australia either directly or via transit, you will not be allowed to board the flight, or will have your visa cancelled on arrival.

As the situation remains in flux, readers should check the following official sites for the latest status updates:

Note that on 22 February 2020, limited exemptions from travel restrictions were announced for international students – specifically, Year 11 and 12 students who remained in China. Exemptions are considered on a case-by-case basis, and currently do not apply to other student cohorts, including university students. More information can be found on the Department of Education website.

FAQS: Coronavirus impact on temporary visa holders

We’ve updated our answers to some common FAQs regarding how the travel bans will impact temporary visa holders. This is general information only; seek the advice of a qualified migration agent or lawyer for how the restrictions apply in your individual situation.

I’m currently overseas and will not be able to enter Australia before my visa expires. What do I need to do to travel to Australia?

Prospective visitors must check Australian Government travel advice before making any travel plans. If you are outside Australia and are unable to enter before your visa expires, you will need to apply for a new visa before travelling to Australia. You cannot extend the validity period of your current visa.

If you are a temporary visa holder and engaged with an employer, you should also be aware of any salary arrangements. For example, if you are currently not being paid, your time spent offshore is unlikely to be counted as fulfilling the requisite employment period when applying for a permanent visa such as the Subclass 186.

I’m a visa holder in Australia. My visa is about to expire and I cannot return to Mainland China. Can I stay in Australia?

If you wish to remain in Australia beyond the expiry date of your current visa, you must apply for another visa. An application should be made before your current visa expires. You may be eligible to be granted a bridging visa, which will allow you to lawfully remain in Australia until a decision is made on your visa application.

Whether you can successfully do so will depend on the exact conditions of your current visa eg. whether there is a ‘no stay’ condition attached, or whether your visa offers a pathway to apply for a different visa. Seek advice on applying for a new visa, as there is no guarantee that the severity of the coronavirus outbreak will be a valid factor for consideration.

I have applied for a permanent visa. Is that still being processed?

The Department continues to process Skilled and Family permanent visas for people usually resident in China. Visas will be granted where travel restrictions are lifted.


When will these restrictions be lifted?

These measures are temporary and subject to review. The government has said that arrangements will be made to reinstate visas as appropriate following the lifting of these enhanced border control measures.

Other useful tips

DO NOT overstay your visas. Under no circumstances should a foreign national holding a temporary visa overstay their visa validity. If you do so, you will be designated an ‘unlawful non-citizen’. Unlawful non-citizens in Australia may be subject to detention by the Department of Home Affairs.

Avoid traveling overseas during this time, unless for emergency purposes.

To find out more about how the temporary travel restrictions apply inn your particular situation, book a consultation with one of our migration agents today.

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DISCLAIMER: No material on this website, including but not limited to documents, articles, general comments, responses and other communications should be interpreted as relevant or accurate legal advice for any individual or specific situation. The information is of a general nature and cannot substitute for professional legal advice. Such advice is only provided by our firm following the acceptance by a client of our written agreement, and the payment of the required fees.