Coronavirus Visa & Travel Restrictions – 16 March 2020

A Ukrainian tourist walks in the arrival hall of the Internatioanal Boryspil airport outside Kiev after his plane landed from China on January 30, 2020. - The first out of four special flights will be held on January 30, 2020 in order to evacuate hundreds of Ukrainian tourists from China as a deadly coronavirus outbreak grows. With no regular flights between Ukraine and China, two Ukrainian airlines, SkyUp and Ukraine International Airlines, provide charter transportation for holidaymakers to the seaside resort of Sanya on the Hainan island, but they announced a suspension of transportation after the epidemic has killed more than 130 people and spread around the world. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation is evolving.

The Australian government is responding.

The rules will be updated (changed) as the situation develops.

Below is a quick summary of some key points up to date at 16 March 2020.


  1. If you are in Australia, now is not a good time to travel overseas, regardless of destination.


Smartraveller advises: “The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. We now advise all Australians to reconsider your need for overseas travel at this time. Regardless of your destination, age or health, if your overseas travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time.”


  1. Everyone travelling to Australia is required to self-isolate for 14 days.


  1. Special arrangements for non-Australian family members of Australians?


If you are an immediate family member* of an Australian**, but do not hold a permanent visa yourself, you need to contact the Department of Home Affairs before travelling using Australian Immigration Enquiry Form:

 *includes spouses, de facto partners, minor dependants or legal guardians

**Australian appears to include Australia citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens who are normally resident in Australia.


  1. No entry for non-Australians traveling from restricted countries?


Currently restricted:

mainland China since 1 Feb 20

Iran since 1 March 20

South Korea since 5 Mar 20

Italy since 11 Mar 20

Even if you have a valid visa, if you have been in a country subject to travel restrictions, be aware that the Australian Government’s stance is that you are “asked not to travel to Australia at this time” and “If you do arrive in Australia, your visa may be cancelled.”

Over the past few weeks person wishing to travel to Australia from restricted countries have been told they will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through a restricted country. So it was possible to travel to Australia via a 14-day stopover in a third country that was not on the restricted list. This information is still on the  Department of Home Affairs website, but now appears to be in doubt. If this effects you be aware that your visa may be cancelled on arrival.

Immediate family members of an Australians may be exempt from that. See 3 above.

The Migration Institute of Australia has suggested that “Visa holders required to enter Australia by a specified date and prevented from doing so by the travel restrictions should contact the section of the Department that issued the visa and request an extension to the entry date.”


  1. Requirements for non-Australians travelling from non-restricted countries


All other temporary visa holders (other than those covered by 4, above) are currently allowed to enter Australia, subject to the 14 day self-isolation requirement.


  1. Do you have a ‘No Further Stay’ condition?


Anyone in Australia with a ‘No Further Stay’ condition should consider seeking a formal waiver so they can apply for another visa. I hear that the government is allocating additional resources to the section that handles these waiver requests.


  1. Are you stuck overseas with a Bridging B Visa that is about to expire?


The Migration Institute of Australia has suggested that “Bridging Visa B holders offshore unable to return before expiry date may consider applying for a visitor visa to return to Australia. Bridging Visas A should then be applied for again when onshore.”


  1. Expect updates (changes)


The Department of Home Affairs is regularly updating their rules as the situation develops. The detailed official information is here:

Adam Welch

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