Australian Visa applications & COVID-19
Australia and the rest of the world have entered curious times facing the threat of COVID-19.
This message clarifies the impact that COVID-19 may have on Australian visa applicants and intending visa applicants.
The Australian Government has imposed a travel ban on non-permanent residents and non-citizens entering Australia. This means that if you hold a temporary visa you cannot travel to Australia. People who hold permanent visas and immediate family members are exempt from the ban.
To be clear, the ban includes people who are outside Australia and hold student visas, graduate visas, provisional skilled and business visas, training and temporary activity visas, working holiday visas, employer sponsored visas, and bridging visas.
If you are in Australia and hold a temporary visa, the ban does not affect you, nor does it prevent you from departing from Australia.
The ban does not affect visa processing
The ban does not affect visa processing. The Department of Home Affairs is continuing to process and grant visas. People who are in the middle of a visa process should continue to prepare documents and apply for your visa.
When your visa is granted and the travel ban lifted, you will be able to travel to Australia. You should not stop work on your application, or fail to start work on your application, while waiting for the special period of the COVID-19 travel ban to end.
The travel ban does not affect the Skilled, Employer Sponsored or Family visa programs
The ban does not affect the Skilled or Employer or Family Sponsored visa programs. The Skilled visa program addresses Australia’s long-term demographic needs and will not be impacted by the short-term nature of the travel ban.
The Employer Sponsored visa program addresses more immediate needs within the labour market. These needs will also continue to exist outside of special period of the COVID-19 travel ban.
Similarly, the processing of family sponsored visas, including partner, parent and child visas, will continue without interruption.
The ban does not affect future Student visa applicants
International education is a major industry in Australia. While the COVID-19 travel ban has caught some international students outside Australia, the university and educational institutions are moving courses on-line and making the necessary adjustments to allow students who are both inside and outside Australia to commence or continue studies.
At the point the ban is lifted, the institutions will make a further set of adjustments to course start dates to allow international students not already in Australia to travel to Australia and commence their Australian course.
If you are in the process of selecting a course and applying for a Student visa we strongly suggest that you continue with this work in the expectation that you will be able to travel to Australia in the second half of the year.
What to do if you are in Australia and your visa is about to expire
If you are in Australia and cannot leave and your visa is due to expire, you should contact the Department of Home Affairs or VisAustralia if you require visa advice.
You should not allow yourself to go unlawful. If you become unlawful in Australia you could be detained. It could also affect any future visa application you may make.
The Department of Home Affairs will continue to process visa applications according to the law. There are no general COVID-19 exemptions in the legislation. Where it has a discretion, the Department has indicated it will consider exercising its discretion in favour of applicants.
You may need to apply for a Visitor visa or a short-term bridging visa that allows you to remain in Australia until you can arrange to leave.
For advice about your best visa strategy or for assistance in preparing a new application please contact VisAustralia.
VisAustralia still open and working at full throttle
VisAustralia, like the Department of Home Affairs, is continuing to work at full throttle.
We are keen to push the applications of our overseas based clients forward and ensure visas are granted in the shortest possible time. This on-going work will allow you to move to Australia as soon as the travel ban is lifted.
We are also keen to assist people facing visa issues in Australia because of the travel ban. If your visa is expiring, or you have other questions about the impact of the ban on your visa process, please do not hesitate to contact VisAustralia.
We want to reiterate that the travel ban is a short-term measure not related to the process of applying for a visa under the Migration Act 1958. The Australian migration program has a long and stable history and visa processing system will continue. People will continue to be able to migrate to Australia and study in Australia. The closure of the border represents a short-term policy response to what we all hope is a short term health issue.
We wish you a safe and productive six months.