Covid-19 has changed many aspects of life for everyone. The evolving state of the pandemic has meant that most industries have had to change the way they operate to adapt to the everchanging landscape.
Many industries have suffered due to the pandemic. Drastic short-term changes to travel and immigration have had a flow-on effect to international businesses operating across different countries, businesses who rely on skilled overseas workers, and businesses who depend on international tourists and travellers to operate successfully.
With borders only open in a limited capacity, the Department of Home Affairs has issued a number of changes to some of the border and immigration arrangements.
The Department of Home Affairs has issued updates to the following categories:
- Covid-19 Visa Concessions
- The Australia Travel Declaration
- Travel Restrictions and Exemptions
Covid-19 Visa Concessions
As of 24 March 2021, a concession will be extended to eligible Parent Visa applicants during the pandemic. Anyone advised that they need to be outside of Australia for their Parent Visa to be granted but cannot depart Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions will be given additional time until they can travel safely. They may also be granted their visa while in Australia.
Partner and Child Visas
Applicants that have applied for a Partner or Child Visa off-shore but are in Australia during the Covid-19 concession period may be granted their visa while in Australia if all other visa criteria have been met. This concession came into effect in February 2020.
In September 2020, concessions and updates were applied to the following business visas:
- Business Innovation and Investment Visa (Permanent, Subclass 888)
- Business Innovation and Investment Visa (Temporary, Subclass 188)
The number of streams available in the Business and Innovation Investment Program has been reduced and the eligibility criteria has been changed.
International Student Visas
Changes to the Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485), were made in September 2020. The changes include extensions to post-study work visa rights and the possibility of applicants being granted a second Temporary Graduate Visa where eligibility criteria are met.
In 2020, updates were also applied to the Skilled Regional Visa (Subclass887) and the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (Subclass 790).
To read more in-depth about these concessions please visit the Covid-19 Border Page.
The Australia Travel Declaration and PCR Test
Anyone travelling to Australia is required to complete the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours prior to departing for Australia.
The Australian Travel Declaration collects information such as contact details while in Australia, flight details, quarantine requirements and health status. This information helps the Australian Government determine your quarantine arrangements and allows relevant health departments to contact you if you happened to travel with someone who has a positive Covid-19 test result.
Unless you are travelling on a quarantine-free flight from New Zealand, evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours or less before your scheduled departure must be provided to your airline.
Safe Travel Zones
A safe travel zone is an agreement with another country to travel to Australia without the need to quarantine provided the traveller has not been in a Covid-19 outbreak location in the last 14 days. Australia currently has a safe travel zone agreement with New Zealand.
The evolving nature of the pandemic sees additional requirements put in place when necessary. Currently, anyone wanting to travel to Australia quarantine-free must meet the following requirements:
- From 25 February 2021, any traveller from New Zealand who has been in Auckland (except for transit through the airport from a connecting flight) for any period over the previous 14-days, is not eligible to travel on a quarantine-free flight.
- Any travellers from New Zealand who have not been in Auckland for any period over the previous 14-days are still eligible to travel on a quarantine-free flight.
- Routine pre-departure and on arrival screening will continue.
Arrival in Australia
Australian airports have created green and red zones to ensure the separation of passengers arriving on quarantine-free flights and those required to quarantine for 14 days.
Travellers cannot come to Australia unless they are in an exempt category or have been granted an individual exemption. A visa and a travel exemption must be obtained prior to travelling to Australia.
Temporary visa holders in Australia can leave Australia at any time but will generally not be permitted to return unless they have compassionate and compelling reasons to leave, and have a critical skill or work in a critical sector. Temporary visa holders must apply for and hold a travel exemption prior to leaving the country.
As the Covid-19 pandemic evolves, so too does the Australian Government’s response. If you are required to travel to and from Australia for any reason, ensure you are up to date with any travel advice. If you would like to learn more about migration, contact the Visa Solutions Australia team on 1800 828 008.
While the Australian borders are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel exemptions may apply under the following circumstances:
- A traveller has a compassionate or compelling reason to visit Australia
- Overseas workers holding a Subclass 482 or 400 visa are required to undertake a job in Australia that cannot be filled by a local employee
Visa Solutions Australia has been successful in acquiring a broad range of exemptions, from critical workers to those needing to travel on compassionate grounds.