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Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne have imposed a travel ban as of February 1st which will deny foreign travellers from entry into Australia if they have left or passed through mainland China in order to contain the spread of the deadly Novel Coronavirus. Currently, there are 14 confirmed cases of the virus in Australia. We urge any existing applicants and visa holders to get in touch with our office as soon as possible if they believe that they might be affected or if their family members might be affected by the travel restrictions.
The Australian Government has announced that all travellers arriving from China will be subject to enhanced border control measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the Australian community. Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited China except for Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents. Moreover, limited exemptions also apply for airline and maritime crew given that they have taken appropriate precautionary measures. These restrictions will also apply to those who wish to transit through Australia.
Please note that if you attempt to travel to Australia despite the ban, your airline will not allow you to board the flight. Should you arrive in Australia and it is determined that you have been in China from February 1st 2020, your visa will be cancelled and you will be placed in an alternative place for detention for a quarantine period. If you have recently travelled through China, it is best not to travel to Australia until this ban has been lifted.
Temporary visa holders
These restrictions also apply to temporary visa holders and their visa will be cancelled. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has made clear that these measures are temporary and as such, arrangements will be made to reinstate visas as appropriate once the ban has been lifted. These measures will be reviewed in 14 days. It is recommended that you consult our office to get up-to-date information regarding the existing restrictions.
Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members
You are able to enter Australia. However, you are expected to self-isolate for 14 days from the time you left China.
Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program
This program is an international migration service designed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on behalf of governments to provide assistance to eligible migrants so they can make informed and voluntary choices about returning to their country of origin. Those who are living in Australia on a bridging visa or other non-substantive visa, those without a visa or your visa has expired and non-refugees at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru are eligible for this assistance.
If you meet the Department of Home Affairs eligibility criteria, IOM can assist you in developing an individualized return option which is jointly planned. This service will be provided free of charge and has proven to be successful as it has assisted more than 8,000 migrants to return home in a safe and dignified manner. These services are also provided to Irregular Maritime Arrivals.
Information for visa holders and applicants
If you are a visa holder in Australia and your visa is about to expire, you must apply for a further visa should you wish to remain in Australia. Please note that an application should be made prior to the expiry date of your current visa and in such cases, a bridging visa will be granted which will allow you to reside lawfully in Australia until a decision is made on your application.
If your visa has condition 8558 which does not allow you stay for more than 12 months in any 18 month period and it is nearing its expiry, you must apply for a further visa to avoid breaching this condition should you wish to remain in Australia. Please note that this will not be the case if your current visa has an 8503, 8534 or 8535 ‘No Further Stay’ condition attached as you will not be able to make a valid application but you may lodge a request to waive this condition by completing form 1447 and consulting a registered migration agent or immigration lawyer. It is recommended that you lodge this request if your current visa has more than two month’s validity remaining.
If you are currently overseas and you are unable to enter Australia before your visa ceases, you will need to apply for a new visa as it is not possible to extend the validity period of a visa. As a result of the current Coronavirus alert, Australian Visa Application Centres (AVAC) in China are temporarily closed. You could check the AVAC website for updates. You should arrange a discussion with our office to seek advice regarding a waiver of the condition.
My parents hold a 3 year (12 months stay period in every 18 month period) subclass 600 visa. If they apply for an extension onshore, will the previous visas be cancelled?
You can’t stay in Australia longer by extending this visa. You must apply for another visa.
If you are in Australia, you may apply for an extension to the visitor visa subclass 600, as long as there is no 8503-condition imposed upon, otherwise known as a ‘no further stay’ condition. You will usually be granted a bridging visa to allow you stay in Australia lawfully whilst your new application is being decided.
What is the onshore subclass 600 visitor (extension) visa fee? Does the applicant need to complete a health examination?
The onshore 600 visitor (extension) visa fee is from AUD $365 for each applicant. There is a health requirement and you may be required to have health examinations to prove that you meet the requirement. There may also be a subsequent temporary application charge (approx. AUD $700).
How does an applicant apply for a subclass 600 visa extension if the existing (current) visa includes the 8503 condition?
You will not be able to apply for an extension if your current visa has an 8503, 8534 or 8535 ‘No Further Stay’ condition attached. You will not be able to make a valid application but you may lodge a request to waive this condition by completing form 1447 and consulting a registered migration agent or immigration lawyer. Only once the ‘No Further Stay’ condition is removed can an applicant apply for a new visa onshore.
What is an 8503 condition?
8503 is a ‘No Further Stay’ condition which means you will not be able to extend your current visa nor make another valid visa application whilst this condition is in effect. There are only a limited amount of visas you can apply for whilst holding a visa with this condition.
My parents are currently in China and they are holding Bridging Visa B visas, but the BVB visas are due to expire in March (last day to arrive in Australia is a date in March), what should we do?
Please arrange a discussion with our office at the earliest to discuss the best course of action in your matter.
What services does IOM provide through AVR?
These services may include information and counselling regarding voluntary return with IOM, assistance with obtaining passports or travel documents, assistance with making alternative transport arrangements such as booking flights and arrange for assistance to be available upon arrival to your country of origin. The support you receive will be dependent on your individual circumstances.
How do I apply for AVR?
You can visit the nearest IOM State office, call 1300 116 986 or fill out the confidential online referral form. You may also ask the Department of Home Affairs to refer you to IOM.
Am I eligible for Reintegration Assistance? IOM has been providing reintegration assistance to Irregular Maritime Arrivals voluntarily returning to their country of origin from Australia. IOM aims to provide individualized voluntary return and reintegration plans to those who contribute to sustainable integration into their community. Assistance may include reception assistance in country of origin, reintegration planning that may include small cash assistance and in-kind support to pursue small business income generation, vocational training, schooling or other such support to facilitate integration and follow up monitoring and support.
Would IOM share my information with the Department of Home Affairs and will it affect the outcome of my appeal/review?
The consultations with IOM can be initiated without involving the Department of Home Affairs and will be confidential. If you are going to proceed with AVR services, IOM will share your information with the Department with your consent to establish your eligibility.
All communications with IOM is voluntary and confidential and as such will have no impact on your application.
Can I go to a country different to my home country?
In most cases, IOM would help you to return to your country of citizenship but they may help you to travel to another country provided that you can show proof of residence for that country.
If you wish to arrange a consultation with us to discuss your matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Immigration & Global Mobility experts below or at email@example.com or call our offices on +61 3 9670 4033 (Victoria) or +61 2 8022 1222 (New South Wales)
George Botros, Immigration Division Manager – Melbourne MARN: 1799679
Direct line: + 61 3 9602 9006
Or for all enquiries to Mandarin speakers, please contact:
Direct line: +613 9670 4033
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject material that is discussed here and does not constitute legal advice.