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Visa and Immigration Updates (Covid-19)

COMING TO AUSTRALIA

I WANT TO APPLY FOR A VISA


Visa Processing Arrangements:

  • You must have a valid visa.
  • You cannot come to Australia unless you are in the exempt category and you have been granted an individual exemption to the current travel restrictions.
  • Australia prioritizes visa applicants in the exempt categories to support urgent travel.
  • Online applications are encouraged as these will be processed faster than those lodged on paper.
  • Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) mobile app (Australian ETA) is currently in trial for some ETA-eligible passport holders while the travel restrictions are in place.
  • You can apply for an ETA through the app if you meet all ETA eligibility requirements and you hold a passport from Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong (SAR of China), Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea or the United States of America.
  • Before you can travel on an ETA, you must also be exempt from Australia’s travel restrictions.
  • Grant of an ETA through the app does not mean you have been considered for or granted an exemption to travel to Australia. You still need to apply for a travel exemption and provide evidence to support your claims.
  • If you are not granted an exemption, you should not continue with your travel plans, as you will not be permitted to board a flight to Australia.
  • Please note that use of the Australian ETA app incurs a non-refundable service fee of A$20.
  • An ETA does not allow you to work in Australia, or stay longer than three months.

Disruption of Services:

  • Some services relating to the visa application process are unavailable due to COVID-19.
  • While these services are unavailable, many applicants cannot meet visa requirements. Applicants will be given additional time to complete checks and provide the requested information.

Visa Medical Appointments:

  • My Health Declarations is temporarily suspended.
  • The Health Requirement including the health examinations for your intended visa will be determined once your visa application has been lodged.
  • Extended timeframes will be taken into account when considering your visa application.
  • If you have not yet lodged a visa application or have not been requested to undertake an immigration medical examination, there is no need to contact a visa medical services clinic in Australia or an overseas panel clinic at this time.

Biometrics collection appointments:

  • From 19 October 2020, biometrics collection services will gradually resume at the existing biometrics collection locations.
  • The resumption of biometrics collection services through the Australian Visa Application Centres (AVACs) and Australian Biometrics Collection Centres (ABCCs) will be dependent on in-country COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Collection centres will offer enquiry and assisted online lodgement services.
  • You can use your existing Requirement to provide personal identifiers (biometrics) letter to book and attend an appointment.
  • If you have applied for your visa online, a copy of this letter is available in your ImmiAccount.
  • You must contact your local AVAC or ABCC to arrange an appointment.
  • You do not need to contact the Department of Home affairs if the collection centre in your area being temporarily closed, or lock-downs in your area that prevent you from travelling to a collection centre.
  • Operations in Singapore and Malaysia have resumed but only at a limited capacity currently. Only appointments with bookings accepted. Please refer to their website for more info and instructions.

STUDENT VISA

I HAVE, OR WISH TO APPLY FOR, A STUDENT VISA


Student Visa Fee:

  • Waiving of the visa application fee is implemented to allow you to lodge a further student visa application to complete your study. This will be available to students who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020 and who couldn’t complete their course within their original visa validity due to the impacts of COVID-19.
  • This includes students who:
    • deferred their study as they were unable to enter Australia due to travel restrictions
    • were forced to reduce to a part-time study load
    • were unable to complete their work-based training or placements.
  • This measure is not intended for students who are applying for a new student visa due to ordinary reasons including failing in a course or a unit of study, deferred for personal reasons or voluntarily reduced study load.
  • To have your application for a fee waiver considered, you must apply for a Student visa and attach a completed Form 1545 COVID-19 Impacted Student from your education provider with a valid Student visa application.
  • You must apply for your Student visa online.
  • You can be in or outside Australia when you apply.
  • If applying for a fee waiver in Australia, a Bridging visa will not be issued automatically as the fee exemption must be checked first.
  • This waiver only applies to the visa application fee.
  • Refunds will not be available for students who have already applied for a Student Visa. Only new applications will be eligible to have the application fee waived.

Form 1545 COVID-19:

  • Education providers need to be satisfied that a student, who held a student visa on or after 1 February 2020, could not complete their course within their original visa validity due to COVID-19.
  • Students can provide further evidence of their COVID-19 related impacts with the completed form.

Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visa Eligibility

  • An online study undertaken outside Australia as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions will count towards the Australian Study Requirement for existing and new student visa holders
  • Graduates affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions will be able to apply for and be granted a Temporary Graduate visa outside Australia (where they have met all the requirements).
  • Online study outside Australia is counted from the time of the Student Visa grant.
  • If you are applying from outside Australia, you must hold or have held a Student Visa in the past 12 months to apply.

Offshore Student Visa Grants

  • Granting visas for students who lodged a Student visa application outside Australia where all the requirements are met are recommended.
  • While travel restrictions remain in place, you cannot travel to Australia.

Flexible Timeframes for Additional Information – English Tests, Biometrics and Health

  • Additional time is allowed for you to provide English language test results if you were unable to take a test because of COVID-19.
  • Additional time will also be allowed for biometrics collection and health checks where COVID-19 disrupted access to services.
  • Where you have made an appointment for one or more of these services, which is more than 28 days into the future, you may attach your booking confirmation in ImmiAccount.

Current Student Visa Conditions

  • You will not be in breach of your Student Visa conditions if you have an approved course deferral and if you are studying online.
  • You are also temporarily allowed to work more than 40 hours per fortnight if you are:
    • employed in the health sector, enrolled in a health-related course (such as nursing or medicine) and are directed by a health official to assist in the effort against COVID‑19
    • employed in aged care by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider before 8 September 2020
    • employed by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider before 23 April 2020

Students with Financial Difficulties

  • Student Visa holders should stay in touch with their education providers about the range of support available to them.
  • Many universities and education providers offer support to students such as:
    • including deferral of fees, studies or payments
    • food and accommodation support
    • mental health and other medical support

Return of International Students to Australia

  • Arrangements for the return of international students to Australia will be made once it is safe to do so, and in a way which protects the Australian community.
  • Alternatively, students may also check with their university directly about the availability of any special or private travel arrangements.

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I HAVE A VISITOR VISA OR ELECTRONIC TRAVEL AUTHORITY (ETA)

  • Visitor Visas and ETAs only allow for a temporary stay in Australia.
  • If you are unable to support yourself while in Australia you should make arrangements to depart, where you can. You do not need to apply for a travel exemption to leave Australia.
  • If you can’t return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid visa and seek medical advice when necessary.

Checking when My Visa will Cease:

  • Your Visitor visa or ETA will automatically cease if you are still in Australia at the end of your permitted stay period.
  • You can check:

Extending My Visa:

  • Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a Visitor visa or ETA.
  • You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires.
  • If you have already applied for a new Visitor visa in Australia, see Visitor Visa processing arrangements.
  • If your Visitor visa is expiring, you are unable to return home because of entry restrictions and you can’t meet the requirements for another visa, you may be eligible for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.
  • You’ll need to demonstrate why you can’t meet the requirements for another visa, including a Visitor visa. This could include a statement and evidence that you do not have access to sufficient funds to be able to pay another visa application charge (VAC).

Applying for a New Visa:

  • You are encouraged to apply:
    • wherever possible, in ImmiAccount
    • no earlier than 4 weeks before your current visa ceases
  • When you apply for a new visa, you may be granted a Bridging visa that will keep you lawful in Australia until a decision is made on your visa application.
  • If you have a ‘no further stay condition’ attached to your visa before you apply for another visa you will need to request a waiver of this condition.

Working:

  • Visitor visa and ETA holders are not permitted to work in Australia.

Visa Conditions

  • The following visa conditions may apply to Visitor visa holders in Australia:
  • No Further Stay Condition (includes 8503, 8534 and 8535):
    • If you hold a visa with a No Further Stay condition, you can’t apply for most other visas in Australia unless the condition is waived.
    • If you want to apply for another visa and your visa will cease in less than 4 weeks, you need to request to waive this condition.
    • If your request is approved, you should apply for a new visa before your current visa ceases.
  • Condition 8531 (must not remain in Australia after stay period ends):
    • This condition can’t be waived; however, it does not prevent you from making a further visa application.
    • If you hold a visa with condition 8531, you should apply for a new visa before your current visa ceases.
  • Condition 8558 (can’t stay in Australia for more than 12 months in any 18-month period):
    • This condition can’t be waived; however, it does not prevent you from making a further visa application.
    • If you hold a visa with condition 8558, you should apply for a further visa before your current visa ceases.
    • Your visa will automatically cease if you are still in Australia at the end of your permitted stay period.
    • Your visa will not automatically cease if you have stayed for a cumulative period of more than 12 months in an 18-month period (as long as you did not exceed your stay period on any single visit).

Visitor Visa Processing Arrangements:

  • When you apply for a Visitor visa in Australia, you will be granted a Bridging visa.
  • If your current visa expires before we decide your application, the Bridging visa will start. This will ensure you remain lawful.
  • You can stay in Australia on the Bridging visa while we process your new visa application.
  • You may experience delays in getting your Bridging visa grant notification. Provided you applied for a new Visitor visa before your current visa ceases, you do not need to worry about your lawful status even if we have not sent your Bridging visa grant notification yet.
  • If you leave Australia before we make a decision, you can withdraw your application.

Providing More Information:

  • If you have been asked to provide more information, send us the requested information as soon as you can in your ImmiAccount.
  • If you can’t provide the information within the timeframe, upload an explanation to your ImmiAccount.
  • Service disruptions will take into account when considering your visa application.
  • The department will contact you again if further information is still required before making a decision on your application.

Making an Appointment for Health Examinations:

  • The Department will tell you if you need to undergo health examinations for your visa.
  • If you are unable to obtain an appointment with Bupa Medical Visa Services within the requested timeframe for response, or your appointment has been cancelled:
    • Upload an explanation to your ImmiAccount
    • Where possible, make an appointment for the next available date
    • Once you have obtained an appointment, tell us your scheduled appointment date via your ImmiAccount

COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa:

  • If your visitor visa is expiring, you are currently unable to return home and you can’t meet the requirements for another visa, you may be eligible for the Temporary Activity (Subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event stream (COVID-19 Pandemic event visa).
  • You’ll need to demonstrate why you can’t meet the requirements for another visa. This could include a statement and evidence that you do not have access to sufficient funds to be able to pay a further visa application charge (VAC).
  • If you are subject to a no further stay condition you must have it waived before you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa.

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MY VISA HAS EXPIRED


Expired inside 28 days

  • If your visa has expired, you need to apply for a Bridging Visa E (BVE) immediately in order to become lawful.
  • A BVE is a short-term visa that lets you remain lawful while you make arrangements to leave Australia.
  • If you want to stay lawfully in Australia, you must apply for a new visa.
  • Your circumstances will determine your visa options and what you must do to remain lawful. Depending on how long ago your visa expired, you may face restrictions on applying for further visas while you are in Australia.
  • Due to COVID-19, applicants will be given additional time to complete checks and provide the requested information.

Expired over 28 days ago:

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LEAVING AUSTRALIA


Non-Citizens:

  • Due to the current COVID-19 situation in Australia, international visitors are encouraged to return home when possible to do so.
  • Temporary visa holders should be aware that if they wish to return to Australia while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, they will generally need a travel exemption.


Temporary Visa Holders Returning Home:

  • Temporary visa holders impacted by COVID-19 can make arrangements to return to their home country, if border restrictions in that country allow.
  • Temporary visa holders do not need an exemption to depart Australia. They can leave at any time, as long as border restrictions in their home country allow them to return.
  • You may also wish to find out if there are any private or government repatriation flights to your home country.

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Chat with us or contact your local AUG Offices for more information.