What Australian Temporary, Permanent Visa Holders and Employers Need to Know During COVID-19
As countries including Australia and her states begin shutting down their borders, general panic, anxiety and feelings of fear have opened up. Understandable given the numbers of non-Australian citizens stuck overseas unable to return to Australia and plenty in Australia unable to leave who are on the verge of breaching their visa conditions.
So, in this time of great uncertainty, here’s what we know that you should know, and can act on to lessen feelings of fear, stress and uncertainty:
1) Only Australian citizens and Permanent Residents are allowed entrance into Australia
If you are a permanent resident visa holder, you will be allowed to enter Australia where you are required to undergo a 14-day self-isolation. These include holders of subclasses 100, 309, 801 and 820.
Permanent Residents who are currently holding expired bridging visa B, you CANNOT return to Australia unless you obtain permission or apply for another visa.
Immediate family members of Australian citizens and Permanent Residents who do not currently hold a visa to enter Australia, must first apply a visa and include proof of familial relationship.
Immediate family members who hold a temporary visa to enter must apply for permission from the Department of Home Affairs and receive permission before travelling.
The Department of Home Affairs defines immediate family members as spouses, dependents and legal guardians.
2) New Zealand citizens who are usually a resident in Australia will also be allowed to enter Australia.
You must carry proof of residency such as driver's licence or documents in relation to your residency.
3) All other travelers who do not fall into the above categories will NOT be allowed to enter Australia until further notice.
In fact, the Australian Government is discouraging non-essential travel between states.
4) If you are already in Australia, you must apply for a new visa if your current visa expires.
In this scenario, the people who will be most likely immediately affected are subclass 500 student visa holders experiencing curriculum disruptions who are planning for a subclass 485, visitor or tourist visa holders unable to secure flights home, and sponsored employees under the subclass 457/482, 186, 494 visas who are facing potential loss of jobs.
In these instances, generally a ‘No Further Stay’ condition or 8503, 8534 and 8535 clauses prevent the holder from submitting another visa application while still in Australia. You have to apply for a waiver of this condition, and given current compelling circumstances, the Department of Home Affairs has taken a more lenient view of applications submitted to waive these clauses.
Send the completed form and documentary evidence to: NoFurtherStayWaiverRequest@homeaffairs.gov.au. The government advises visa holders with this condition to submit applications for waivers only when they have less than 2 months to visa expiry. So, check your visa conditions to determine if you need to apply for a waiver and when you should put one in.
5) Shutdown rules such as moving businesses from full-service to takeaway-only limited service impact sponsorship and nomination conditions.
Extended closures have the same effect resulting in potential refusals. In these scenarios, visa holders sponsored by these businesses may face termination and should best request for extended paid leave to seek out further employment opportunities.
6) Finally, don’t panic. Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.
If your hands aren’t so dry that it needs moisturiser, you’re probably not washing them frequently enough *smile* Not true, just wash often and stay home, when you can help it. We are aiming to flatten the curve, with a lowered rate of infection so that the virus can pass over with lesser casualties.
Remember, all of us are in this together. Plenty are in the same situation and if not, it’s a different version of a challenge that COVID-19 has brought about. We will get though this tough times. Together.
Feel free to contact us for more information on these areas.