2020 was most certainly a devastating year that will leave a significant mark in our history books. For so many individuals and families the world over, if their health wasn’t directly impacted by the deadly virus, their livelihood was severely impacted by the repercussions of it; there’s been an unprecedented number of job losses and the hit to our economy will likely have lasting effects for quite some time.
Another way that many people have been impacted is due to the national border closures that came into play since March 2020. As far as the ban on travellers coming into Australia, unfortunately minus a few exemptions, nothing has changed on that front as yet. In fact, going into our second year of a COVID-19 world, it’s recently been reported that Australia’s net intake of migrants is expected to fall into the negative levels for the first time since World War II. It was also mentioned in the same report that net overseas migration is not expected to return to positive levels until 2022-23.
What does this mean for current visa holders?
The Department of Home Affairs are consistently updating their website but as of now, temporary residents on a 457 or 482 visa, unless you’re in an area of critical need are still banned from entering; the same goes for parents of residents wanting to visit. However, there are a few automatic exemptions for certain cohorts, including but not limited to: immediate family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents; New Zealanders who are usually residents in Australia and their immediate family members; and those who have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more immediately prior to arrival by air in Australia.
Individual exemptions may be granted under the following circumstances at the time of writing:
- a foreign national travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
- a foreign national whose entry into Australia would be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
- providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
- a foreign national with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
- a foreign national sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
- military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
- a person who resides on a vessel that seeks safe port at the closest appointed port for reprovisioning or safety reasons for a limited duration, supported by the relevant State or Territory government where safe haven is sought
- a student completing year 11 and 12, with endorsement from the federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) and; support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department. Further information regarding this process can be found at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
- a student in your final two years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which begins within the next two months.
- travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.
It is reported that the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force has received the highest amount of applications claiming compassionate and compelling grounds from the above list. This is not overly surprising given that many people have been forced to be separated from their families and haven’t been able to reunite since the pandemic hit. On the upside, the government flagged in the Budget for FY 2021 that there would be a significant increase in places offered in the partner visa category.
Whether it’s just the COVID-19 restrictions that are getting in the way of you entering Australia or obtaining a visa, or you have any other difficulties like health issues or employment issues etc., get the help of an expert lawyer to triage your case and simplify the process for you. Our immigration lawyer, Andrew Woo, has a phenomenal track record so you can have complete peace of mind.
Because at Taylor & Scott, we care for you.