Australia – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: July 14th, 2020

Reducing the burden of quarantine costs on Australian States and Territories

What is the change?

The National Cabinet has announced that the number of Australian citizens and residents allowed into Australia will be reduced from approximately 7000 to 4000 each week effective 13 July 2020. This measure has been put in place to ease pressure on state and territory coronavirus quarantine systems and free up resources to focus on testing and tracing. Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged that the decision would make it difficult for citizens to come home but confirmed that it was in the national interest. He confirmed that there will be continuing access to Australia but the number of available positions on flights will be reduced.

Individuals arriving in Australia are still required to undergo 14 days mandatory quarantine in a designated facility. All jurisdictions will move to charging individuals arriving in Australia with the cost of the mandatory quarantine. The costs vary between states but will be approximately $3,000 for an adult or $5,000 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children.

Employers seeking travel ban exemption requests to allow visa holders to travel to Australia will need to factor in these additional costs.

Update: April 16th, 2020

Assistance for people on temporary visas

What is the change?

The Red Cross is receiving funding from the Australian Government for the next six months to deliver emergency relief and casework support. These funds are for people on temporary visas who have no way to support themselves and who have urgent needs. This includes food, medicine and crisis accommodation costs.

Visa holders may be eligible for Red Cross Safety Net support if they:

  • Are in Australia on a temporary visa
  • Are in urgent financial hardship
  • Cannot access Centrelink, Medicare or similar services
  • Have no income, savings or other financial support (including from family overseas) Assistance will be provided based on need. People with urgent needs, such as families with young children, people with a disability, people who are experiencing harm, people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, and people with physical or mental health issues will be prioritised.

Eligible visa holders are requested to contact the Red Cross by email in the first instance so that they can be advised when the funds and arrangements are in place.

Update: April 10th, 2020

Immigration and border arrangements

What is the change?

In recognition of the skills that foreign nationals bring to the Australian economy, and the potential needs for these skills after COVID-19, the government has advised the following:

  • Visa holders who are stood down (but not laid off) will retain their current visa, and can apply for a visa renewal, in accordance with the current legislative provisions.
  • A reduction in working hours will not be considered a breach of sponsorship or individual visa conditions. This implies that pro rata salary should be maintained.
  • Reducing the salary of Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa holder without a commensurate reduction in hours, is a more complex scenario and should involve:
    • Agreement by the employee
    • Prior permission from the immigration authorities
    • Employment law advice
  • If visa holders are made redundant, they should seek alternative visa sponsorship, apply for a new visa, or depart Australia within 60 days—in line with their existing visa conditions. However, if they can be re-employed, and are eligible for Employer Sponsored Permanent Residency, their time already spent working in Australia will count toward the work experience requirements.
  • In the case of redundancies, a sponsor’s obligation to notify the Department of Home Affairs within 28 calendar days remains unchanged.

Working Holiday Visas

Working holiday makers with roles in the following critical sectors will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with any single employer:

  • Health
  • Aged and disability care
  • Agriculture and food processing
  • Childcare

In addition, they will be eligible for a further visa to remain employed in this sector if their current working holiday visa expires within the next 6 months.

For all other sectors, if the work if considered critical, you must request permission to waive the 6 month work limitation from the Department, as per normal processes.

New 408 Visa for onshore visa holders impacted by COVID-19

For people currently in Australia who have 28 days or less remaining on their current visa, or hold a visa which expired no more than 28 days ago, a new stream of the Temporary Activity visa is now available.

The new visa will allow these people to:

  • Remain in Australia if they have no other visa option and are unable to depart due to travel restrictions.
  • Remain in Australia to assist in critical sectors of health, care and agriculture.

Update: March 20th, 2020

Government restricts outbound travel

What is the change?

The Department of Home Affairs has added outbound travel restrictions to its COVID-19 policies.

As of March 25 at noon AEDT, Australian citizens and permanent residents are restricted from traveling overseas. Limited exceptions apply.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Affected travelers: Australian citizens and permanent residents.
  • Business impact: Businesses should anticipate delays and postponement of travel for affected employees.
  • Next steps: Australian citizens and permanent residents should postpone overseas travel unless they fall under an exempt category.


  • Those who ordinarily reside in a foreign country.
  • Those whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities.
  • Air and maritime crews and related safety workers.
  • Those engaged in day-to-day movement of outbound and inbound freight.
  • Those traveling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.

Employers should identify travelers affected by the new outbound travel restrictions and postpone travel if necessary. Those who believe they fall under an exemption category should consult their Deloitte contacts to explore in further detail.

Update: March 19th, 2020

All non-residents and non-Australian citizens to be prohibited from entering Australia

What is the change?

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has announced that all non-residents and non-Australian citizens will be prohibited from entering Australia from 9:00pm AEDT on Friday 20 March 2020. Please note, temporary skills shortage (TSS), short stay activity visa (sc400) and working holiday visa holders (sc417/462) are all classified as non-residents. The ban includes New Zealand citizens, who are not normally resident in Australia.

Australian citizens and permanent residents, and their direct family members, will be permitted to return from overseas, but they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Visa holders already in Australia can remain in the country.

No timeframe for the length of this travel ban has been announced.

Sophie Carlei

Sophie est Directeur au sein de l’équipe Mobilité Internationale de Lyon et dirige l’équipe immigration. Elle conseille les groupes français et internationaux et intervient tant pour des clients travaillant dans le domaine […]

Fatia Bouteiller

Fatia Bouteiller a rejoint Deloitte Société d’Avocats en 2017 pour renforcer l’équipe Immigration. Fatia dispose d’une expérience de 15 ans en mobilité internationale dans les domaines du droit de l’immigration, […]