Australia – Update on Australian Government Covid-19 Immigration response
A travel ban is currently in place affecting non-citizens and non-residents of Australia, with limited concessions available for immediate family members of Australians and New Zealand Citizens usually resident in Australia. The Australian Government has provided further guidance on additional limited exemptions, including for individuals providing critical or essential services or on compassionate grounds.
Effective 09:00pm AEDT, Friday 20 March 2020, non-citizens and non-permanent residents were banned from entering Australia. Australian citizens, permanent residents and their direct family members are still permitted to enter Australia but are required to self-isolate for 14 days. New Zealand citizens who are usually resident in Australia are also permitted to enter, again with the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days.
A closer look
The Prime Minister has indicated that additional limited exemptions to the travel ban will be available focussed on individuals providing ‘critical or essential services or on compassionate grounds’.
The Department has now released the following additional limited guidance of circumstances where the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may consider an additional exemption in relation to the travel bans:
- 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. This may include separation of immediate family members who are holders of temporary work (e.g. TSS) or other longer term visas.
In all cases, sufficient evidence must be provided in support of the request to exercise the discretion to grant relief in particular circumstances. Travel to Australia should not be attempted until the approval of the specific exemption.
Passengers transiting through Australia
Certain nationalities remain eligible to transit through Australia without a visa. For these passengers, the transits must occur on the same day as arrival and passengers must remain in the sterile transit area of the relevant Australian airport.
The Department has confirmed that:
- The above transit exemptions do not apply to any foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, the republic of Korea or Italy in the last 14 days;
- Foreign nationals departing New Zealand can only transit Australia to return home between 12:00 AEDST 21 March 2020 and 11:59 AEDST 24 March 2020. At the end of this period, this exemption is no longer valid; and
- Citizens of the following Pacific countries can transit through Australia to return home: Cook Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Timor Leste, Kiribati, Niue, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Palau Tuvalu, Micronesia Papua, New Guinea and Vanuatu.