COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

UPDATED: 25th March 2020 (MIA)

The Department of Home Affairs, The Government and MIA are working through issues relating to temporary visa holders attempting to find solutions.

The recent measures to combat COVID-19 have been felt by all Australians: citizens, permanent residents, temporary visa holders and unlawful non-citizens.

Find out more about the below:

Employer Sponsored Visas

The Government has estimated at least one million people may become unemployed as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on Australian businesses. Unfortunately, Subclass 482 and 457 visa holders are among the hundreds of thousands of temporary residents who have already lost their jobs.
At this time, temporary visa holders are not entitled to the same government benefits as Australian permanent residents.

Measures MIA have asked the Department to implement:

  • immediately waive visa condition 8503 (No further stay) so onshore visa holders can remain lawful
  • create a COVID-19 specific fee-free visa solution which allows work rights and access to Medicare for the duration of the emergency
  • consider extending temporary visas automatically until 30 October 2020 in the first instance
  • immediately remove LMT and SAF requirements
  • MIA has also raised issues specific to visa and business sponsorship obligations in relation to the part-timing of jobs, leave without pay, stand-downs and retrenchments.
  • Matters pertaining to eligibility for Subclasses 186/187 TRT provisions
  • The Government doesn’t want to see temporary workers become unlawful non-citizens.

As we don’t know how long this pandemic will continue to affect businesses, we are urging anyone who is eligible to apply for permanent residency now to do so. Not only to potentially gain access to government benefits including Centrelink and Medicare but also because the future of employer-sponsored visas is uncertain.

Permanent Visa holders may apply for Medicare & Centrelink benefits.

Find out if you are eligible to apply for a 186 or 187 visa here

If you have questions about your visa, book a phone or Skype appointment to speak to one of our migration agents 

AAT COVID-19 arrangements

The AAT is implementing measures to protect tribunal members, registry staff, appellants and support services workers. The following measures have been put in place:

  • the AAT will not be conducting any ‘in person’ hearings for the foreseeable future
  • hearings will be conducted by telephone, where the matter is suitable to this format of hearing, including taking witness evidence and interpreted proceedings
  • applications are being triaged and where these are suitable, complete and able to be decided ‘on the papers’, this will be done
  • where cases are decision/hearing ready members may email the AAT to notifying that the case is ready for consideration
  • a single central email address will be provided shortly by the MRD for this purpose, members are asked to only use that address and refrain from emailing tribunal members or other AAT officers
  • protection visa hearings – where face to face hearings are less essential, ie where appellants’ credibility is not at issue in the case and the risk of harm well established by other means, the Tribunal wil attempt to continue to hear these cases by telephone or possibly even on the papers.
  • Tribunal registry staff and members will be commence working remotely and patience is requested during these challenging times.
  • those who may have difficulty in participating in a telephone conference/hearing due to disability, location, etc should contact the Tribunal to discuss other ways the case may be decided.

Further updates will be provided by the Deputy President Redfern at a meeting on 9 April 2020.
If you have questions about your visa, book a phone or Skype appointment to speak to one of our migration agents 

Travel Restrictions (Exemptions) 

The Department of Home Affairs has updated its online information, documentation required and forms to apply for exemptions to the travel restrictions for:

  • NZ citizens usually resident in Australia
  • Immediate family members of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Transiting travellers

Additional exemptions may be applied for from the Commissioner of the ABF for:

  • ​Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government to assist in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest
  • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports
  • Persons with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exception
  • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia and their immediate family
  • ​Case-by-case exceptions may also be granted for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.

Exemptions must be granted before these travellers undertaking travel to Australia.

If you have questions about your visa, book a phone or Skype appointment to speak to one of our migration agents 

General informaiton about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find more information about Coronovirus at the links belo:

For the latest information see Department of Health – Novel coronavirus

For advice on travelling outside of Australia see Smart Traveller.