March 27, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Australian Migration: The Essential Guide

What’s the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Australian migration? In this article, we’ll answer this.

The last few weeks have been challenging for everyone. Across the globe, there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been affected in some way by the disruption caused as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

There is a lot of uncertainty in the air and the objective of this article is to provide you with essential information on the current state of Australian migration.

Inevitably, the travel ban imposed by the Government has led to some confusion for those onshore who hold temporary visas and those offshore with plans to migrate to Australia. 

Based on the information we currently have available, during this ever-evolving crisis, we want to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge to make strong decisions.

How does COVID-19 affect onshore migrants with temporary visas?

This is the question on everyone’s lips. The Government and Department of Home Affairs have made it clear that they are trying to be as flexible as possible in their approach to the legislative framework. 

Like any migration system, there are a lot of components that need to be considered, as officials attempt to limit the disruption caused by COVID-19.

To accommodate the sweeping changes that have needed to be made to tackle COVID-19, the Department of Home Affairs is trying to make it possible for onshore visa holders to remain lawful. As you can imagine, there are many complexities to this – it’s easier said than done. They have, however, made some suggestions as to how visa holders might be able to remain lawful.

This could potentially be achieved through taking a ‘light touch’ approach to onshore lodged visitors visas, no further stay waivers and extensions in visa validity. In the meantime, it’s vital that you do not let your visa expire, without applying promptly for a new one. If you let your visa expire, you become unlawful and expose yourself to serious consequences such as detention or deportation.

If you only have 3 months or less left on your visa, you should contact us immediately for advice on the matter. 

Just a few days ago, the Government rushed through $84 billion in financial support for workers, students, and businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Whilst this covers a wide net of Australia’s population, it doesn’t provide any support for more than 2 million temporary visa holders living and working in our country.

The Government is aware that many temporary visa holders may lose their livelihoods through the economic impact of this pandemic. As a result, onshore migrants are likely to be very vulnerable in local communities. Recognising this, the Government is actively exploring ways to alleviate potential hardship.

Relaxing the conditions of being a temporary visa holder seems like the obvious, short-term solution to this growing crisis. Hopefully, we will see the Government taking swift action to prevent millions of temporary visa holders from being left in the dark. 

If you are an onshore migrant with a temporary visa, please contact us for professional advice and support.

How does COVID-19 affect those who hope to migrate into Australia?

Since March 20, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members have been allowed to travel to Australia. These people have been required to self-isolate for 14 days, either at home or in a hotel, to ensure they haven’t brought the virus back with them whilst on their travels. 

With the border in near-lockdown, when will offshore prospects be able to migrate to Australia?

As world leaders have repeated in recent weeks, it’s difficult to put a timeframe on the pandemic. This could last for several months and continue to cause a ripple effect across every factor of Australian life. 

However, this is a temporary crisis, therefore it is important to plan ahead and do everything within your power to keep the ball rolling on your migration.

If you have already been granted a permanent visa offshore, you are still permitted to enter Australia, even if you haven’t been to this country before. For those who are in the process of obtaining a visa, the Migration Insitute of Australia was assured that visa processing, particularly for General Skilled Migration (GSM) will continue “within the constraints of the situation”.

The Department of Home Affairs is still accepting visa applications from both onshore and offshore.

There have reportedly been some issues for overseas individuals accessing the VEVO system (Visa Entitlement Verification Online), to check the progress and status of their visa. In the event that you are struggling to gain access to the VEVO system overseas, you can access your visa grant letter and visa conditions online using your ImmiAccount.

If you are currently outside Australia and are wanting your questions answered by an expert, please contact us for professional advice and support.

5 Key Updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Australian Migration

  1. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a temporary crisis. If you are seeking permanent residency in Australia, you can use the next few months to plan ahead and begin to get the relevant documentation in place for your application.
  2. The Department of Home Affairs is still accepting visa applications. In the midst of all the ensuing chaos, you can still submit your applications and delegates are still operating and processing. 
  3. If you are onshore with a temporary visa, you must stay lawful. If you haven’t checked the status of your visa in the last few months, we would recommend doing so to ensure that you are not approaching a looming expiry date. Anything less than 3 months on your visa requires urgent action and in the event of this, you should contact us immediately for advice. If you let your visa expire, you are exposing yourself to serious consequences such as detention or deportation.
  4. If you’re currently based offshore, the travel ban is only a temporary measure. There are still going to be plenty of opportunities to migrate to Australia in the not-so-distant future. If you’re hoping to move to our country, you can use this time to get ahead of the game and start preparing for your migration to Australia. For example, if you are a skilled migrant you can work on your skills assessment which is a prerequisite for all Skilled Visas.
  5. Northern Immigration Australia is continually providing support and assistance to those affected by recent events. We’re here to help you make sense of the sudden changes to offshore and onshore migration, offering professional and actionable advice to give you peace of mind. We will keep operating! We are an established business and our processes are online, so there’s no risk of us shutting down whilst working on your visa application. Our consultations are conducted by video or audio call. We understand that this situation is also financially challenging – we offer payment in very small increments. Start now, pay later!

Ready to take action and find out about the options currently available to you? Book a free consultation with our migration agents today to work out your best course of action.

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