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COVID-19 and Australian visas

How will COVID-19 impact my visa?

As governments around the world attempt to stem the transmission of COVID-19 (also known a coronavirus) by controlling the movement of people, many people wonder how this will impact visa holders in and out of Australia. Others may want to know how the virus will affect their pending visa application. The Department of Home Affairs has published some resources that may be helpful to visa holders and applicants which is available here. We have also included some further information below about Australian visas and COVID-19.

 

I am in Australia on a temporary Australian visa that is about to expire

Many visitors in Australia may be concerned about what they do if their country of origin or home region is impacted by COVID-19. This might include visitors from China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. If you are thinking of extending your stay in Australia because the situation in your home country has changed, there are several things you may need to consider:

 

  1. What is the expiry date of your current visa?

In most cases this will be listed on the original visa grant notice you received when your visa was granted. If you do not have your visa grant notice, you can check your visa details including the expiry date using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online system (VEVO). More information regarding VEVO and how to check your own visa details is available here.

 

  1. Do I have a ‘No Further Stay’ condition on my visa?

If you have a No Further Stay condition on your Australia visa, such as Condition 8503, you are prevented from applying for another visa whilst in Australia, with some limited exceptions. Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to waive the No Further Stay condition on your visa so that you can apply for a further visa to remain in Australia because of the COVID-19 virus. Requesting waiver of a No Further Stay condition is not an application for a visa. Waiving a No Further Stay condition can be complicated and we recommend you get accurate legal advice before attempting to do so as you may impact your future visa options in Australia without knowing it.

 

  1. What Australia visa should I apply for?

Depending on your specific circumstances you may be several different visas options whilst in Australia to extend your stay. There are many different visas available in Australia, each with their own specific criteria. If you are interested in getting advice about what are the best visa options in your specific circumstances we recommend using our Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation service. It is very important that you do not let your Australian visa expire before applying for a new visa.

 

I am the holder of a permanent or temporary Australian visa and I am planning a trip outside of Australia

When deciding to leave Australia whilst holding a visa, one of the main things to confirm is your ability to reenter Australia. You will also need to ensure you are clear on your current visa expiry (even for permanent residency visa holders) as you could find yourself in a country that is heavily impacted by the coronavirus and you may not be able to return to Australia whilst travel bans are in place. This could have a significant impact on your future visa options. Some examples include:

  • If you are a permanent visa holder, how much time to have on your travel facility (usually 5 years from the date your visa was granted) to reenter Australia? Does this need to be renewed before you depart Australia?
  • If you are on Bridging Visa A, have you applied for a Bridging Visa B in order to travel and how long is the Bridging Visa B valid for? Is there a risk you will be stuck outside Australia after your Bridging Visa B expires?
  • Do you hold a student visa and are you planning to lodge a Temporary Graduate visa? Is there a risk your student visa could expire whilst you are outside of Australia, preventing you from lodging a Temporary Graduate visa?

It is important to know your visa expiry and your reentry options. If you face travel restrictions because of COVID-19 that stop you from returning to Australia this may have a significant impact on your ability to reenter Australia and your future visa options.

It is always a good idea to check DFAT’s Smart Traveler Website to get the latest information about COVID-19 before you travel.

 

I have applied for an Australian visa and I am currently waiting outside of Australia for a decision

It is difficult to tell if COVID-19 will impact the processing times for certain visas. Many businesses and government agencies in Australia are considering periods of either shut-down or limited face-to-face services. This may impact the Department of Home Affairs and could impact the length of time it takes to process your visa.

If you have been asked to do health checks and you are found to test positive to COVID-19 this may also impact your visa application and your ability to enter Australia.

 

I hold an Australian visa and I am outside of Australia but intending to return soon

Travel restrictions are currently in place for temporary visa holders who have been in China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. This includes if you have transited through these countries. If you have been in these countries within the last 14 days, you will be refused entry to Australia.

Australian Citizens and permanent residents and in some cases New Zealand Citizens and diplomats returning from these countries will be allowed to return but will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. You can monitor the Department of Home Affairs website resources available here for any changes to travel restrictions or visa information. If you would like migration advice on your specific situation you can book your Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation with a migration lawyer.

 

Helpful resources

DFAT Smart Traveler Website – COVID-19 News

Department of Home Affairs – COVID-19 and Fact Sheets

Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation with an Australian migration lawyer

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