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Expanded travel exemption criteria
The Department of Home Affairs will now allow additional categories of persons to be automatically exempt from travel restrictions to enter Australia. This means that the following categories of traveller are not required to apply for a travel exemption prior to arrival in Australia:
Family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents will still require a visa before entering Australia.
Labour market testing for employer sponsored permanent residence applications (186 & 187)
Further to our update on 2 September, the Australian Government now expects positions to be advertised on its Jobactive website before a subclass 186 or 187 (ENS or RSMS) permanent residence application is lodged. Although it is not strictly a requirement, the Government has indicated it will look at job advertising undertaken when it considers if there is a genuine need for an overseas worker to fill a permanent position in Australia. The rationale is to ensure that job opportunities for Australian workers are being prioritised in the current economic environment.
Please note that job advertising is expected to occur for all positions nominated for a 186 or 187 visa, including those which were exempt from labour market testing (LMT) at 482 visa application stage. Unfortunately international trade obligations or other LMT exemptions/alternatives will not be recognised for a permanent 186 and 187 application.
It is not clear when the expectation to advertise positions for a proposed 186 or 187 application commences, although it is likely from 1 October in line with the enhanced LMT requirements for the 482 visa program (see our update below from 2 September). It is also unclear whether a full 4 weeks of job advertising (or a lesser period) is required on Jobactive for 186 and 187 applications; the Department of Home Affairs will likely clarify this in due course.
In line with the above, we can expect the Department of Home Affairs to scrutinise 186 and 187 applications in relation to Australian workers you may employ in similar occupations, including:
If any of the points above apply to your business and you wish to use the 186 or 187 programs in future, please contact your PwC Australia immigration representative for assistance.
New Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) introduced
A new skilled occupation list underpinning the 482 visa program has been released today. To be known as the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), it comprises 17 occupations focussing on the engineering, health and IT sectors. The 17 occupations and ANZSCO codes are:
482 visa applicants who are sponsored by Australian businesses in a PMSOL occupation can access priority processing and easier access to travel exemptions in order to enter and work in Australia. The existing skilled occupation lists (the STSOL and MLTSSL) remain active and 482 visa applications based on these lists will continue to be processed. However, 482 visa applications based on the PMSOL will be given priority.
Enhanced labour market testing measures
Please note that enhanced labour market testing measures must accompany all 482 applications from 30 September onwards (not just those applications lodged using a PMSOL occupation). In addition to the requirement for two national job advertisements, sponsors must also advertise roles on the Government's job active website.
For subclass 482 nominations lodged from 30 September onwards, the following advertising requirements must be met:
All job advertisements must be live for at least four weeks, and the advertisements must occur in the four months immediately prior to a 482 nomination lodgement. Each advertisement must be commissioned or authorised by the sponsor directly.
Existing alternatives to job advertising are still available (in limited circumstances) to satisfy the labour market testing requirement. For example, job advertising is not required where an applicant’s annual earnings are greater than AUD 250,000 per annum. Similarly, exemptions based on International Trade Obligations (ITOs) continue to apply.
These enhanced labour market testing provisions are intended to give Australian citizens and permanent residents first access to job opportunities before overseas workers are considered. Jobactive is a Government online jobs portal that is free to use.
The PMSOL will be responsive to changes in Australia's skills needs during the COVID-19 recovery period, so please bookmark this page for further updates.
Queensland and NSW border closure
From Saturday 8 August, Queensland's border with New South Wales (NSW) will close. All of NSW and the ACT have been declared as COVID-19 hotspots by Queensland's Chief Health Officer, meaning all visitors from these areas will be denied entry to Queensland except for rare exemptions (such as residents of border communities and essential workers). Returning Queenslanders are still required to undertake mandatory hotel quarantine at their own cost (please refer to our update below from 17 July 2020 for details of quarantine costs).
Travel exemption criteria for those with critical skills
Until recently the criteria to obtain a travel exemption to enter Australia has been narrow. The Australian Government has now moved to expand its criteria slightly by recognising a wider range of sectors as critical to the workforce. Travel exemptions may now be granted to people in categories including:
Please note that appropriate evidence must be submitted with a travel exemption request. Travel exemptions can be submitted online by either the individual, or by a business on the individual's behalf.
This change to travel exemption policy recognises the important role of technology and other essential services in Australia's post-COVID-19 economic recovery. It also provides an indication of upcoming changes to the skilled occupation lists that underpin the Temporary Skills Shortage visa program. Please keep checking this page for further updates, and contact your PwC immigration representative if you have any questions.
Cap on international travellers inbound to Sydney - updated
Overseas arrivals into Sydney will be capped at 350 passengers per day from Monday 20 July. This is 100 passengers less than the previous cap.
Student visa concessions due to COVID-19
The Australian government has announced a number of measures to revitalise the higher education sector in the wake of COVID-19, and to support international students to return to Australia. The measures include:
We will be sure to share further details once announced. Please contact your PwC immigration representative if you have any questions.
Cap on international travellers inbound to Australia
The Australian government has announced a cap on international arrivals to Australia in order to manage ongoing quarantine arrangements. The following cap on arrivals is now in place until further notice:
Interstate travel restrictions
NSW - yes (from Victoria only). NSW has temporarily shut its border with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19. People entering NSW from Victoria will need a NSW border entry permit. Those entering NSW from Victoria are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, get tested for COVID-19 and abide by a COVID-19 Safety Plan. Self-isolation can be at a place of residence or suitable accommodation in NSW. The border closure affects anyone who has been in Victoria in the last 14 days. Special provisions have been made for residents of Victoria and NSW border communities, those performing critical services and interstate residents transiting through NSW.
Queensland - yes (from declared COVID-19 hotspots). Anyone entering Queensland from NSW, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and Northern Territory must complete a border declaration before entering Queensland. For people entering Queensland from overseas or from a COVID-19 hotspot within 14 days of arrival, a 14 day quarantine is required. Declared COVID-19 hotspots are listed on the Queensland Government website, and currently include all of Victoria and parts of Western Sydney. Exemptions may be granted in exceptional circumstances only.
Northern Territory - yes (all interstate arrivals). NT requires all interstate arrivals to complete a Border Entry application. The application must be completed no more than 72 hours prior to arrival, and can be completed online through the Northern Territory government's website. From 17 July, anyone arriving in the NT from a declared COVID-19 hotspot must complete 14 days of mandatory quarantine at their own cost. Declared COVID-19 hotspots are listed on the NT government website, and currently include all of Victoria and parts of Sydney.
Western Australia - yes (all interstate arrivals). WA's border remains closed. Any interstate traveller wishing to enter WA must obtain a travel exemption (known as a G2G Pass). This can be obtained from the WA government's G2G website.
South Australia - yes (from Victoria, NSW and ACT). Victorian residents, other than essential travellers, are not permitted to enter SA. Travellers from NSW and the ACT entering SA must self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Travellers from NT, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia are able to enter SA without restriction. All interstate travellers must complete a Cross Border Travel Registration at least 3 days before they set off for SA.
Victoria - no
Tasmania - yes (all interstate arrivals). Tasmania requires all interstate arrivals to register for a G2G Pass prior to arrival. All interstate arrivals must then self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. All non-Tasmanian residents who have spent time in Victoria in the 14 days prior to arrival are not permitted to enter Tasmania and will be turned back at their own expense, unless a compassionate exemption is obtained.
NSW - The NSW Government will begin charging international travellers for their hotel quarantine accommodation from Saturday 18 July. Travellers will be charged $3000 for one adult. Additional adults will be charged at $1000 each, additional children at $500 each and no charge for children under 3 years. Therefore a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) will be charged $5000.
Quarantine fees include hotel room costs and meals. Travellers will receive an invoice at the end of the 14 day quarantine period for fees, and will be required to pay the NSW Government within 30 days.
Quarantine fees apply to all international travellers entering NSW including Australian citizens and permanent residents. Please note quarantine fees are not retrospective. Travellers in transit through Sydney to another state or territory will not be charged a fee if transit is less than 24 hours. A pro-rata fee will be charged for stays greater than 24 hours.
Queensland - The Queensland government is charging travellers for mandatory quarantine. The fees are $2800 for one adult, $3710 for two adults and $4620 for 2 adults and 2 children. Quarantine fees include hotel room costs and meals. Travellers will receive an invoice at the end of the 14 day quarantine period for fees, and will be required to pay the Queensland Government within 30 days.
Northern Territory - from 17 July, anyone arriving into the Northern Territory from a COVID-19 hotspot must complete 14 days of mandatory quarantine at their own cost. The cost per person is $2500. Declared hotspots currently include large areas of Victoria and Sydney. Exemption from quarantine can be requested in certain circumstances (e.g. specialist services for industry or business or emergency service workers). Exemptions are considered invalid if you are travelling from an identified COVID-19 hotspot.
Western Australia - from 17 July, international arrivals to WA are required to pay for their 14 days of mandatory quarantine. The fees are $2520 for one adult, $3360 for two adults and $5040 for a family of four.
South Australia - from 18 July, international arrivals to SA are required to pay for their 14 days of mandatory quarantine. Travellers will be charged $3000 for one adult. Additional adults will be charged at $1000 each, additional children at $500 each and no charge for children under 3 years. Therefore a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) will be charged $5000.
Victoria - to be advised.
Suspension of issuance of certain new US visas through 2020: Only brand new H-1B, L-1 and J-1s visas impacted.
What Australians Need to Know
Effective 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on June 24, 2020 (2pm Australia time on the 25 June), President Trump’s Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the COVID-19 Outbreak will come into effect through Dec. 31, 2020 (with potential for modifications every 30-60 days).
Of interest is the exemption for those whose entry is “necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.” How this will be adjudicated is undefined and unclear, but leaves open the argument for a worker who can prove their role will help with the US economic recovery may still be able to start a new US role.
Right now, temporary workers (such as Aussie E-3, E-2) already in the US are not impacted by this Proclamation and Aussie’s who would like to apply for a new E-3 or E-2 may be able to do so under emergency procedures.
COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa - Temporary Activity (subclass 408)
As an extraordinary response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian government has introduced the COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa, under the Subclass 408.
Applicants for the visa must:
If applicants can evidence current employment in critical sectors (which include health care, disability and aged care, childcare and agriculture), a permission to work may be granted with the visa. Other applicants, who do not work in critical sectors and therefore whose application is only aimed at remaining lawful in the country, must evidence that they are simply not eligible for other visas.
There is no visa fee or subsequent temporary application charge associated with this visa. The visa can be granted up to 12 months for applicants working in critical sectors and up to 6 months for applicants who will apply to remain lawful in Australia in the absence of any other possible visa.
Over the weekend, the Acting Minister for Immigration Allan Tudge MP has issued an update regarding the status of certain temporary visa holders and Australia's COVID-19 response. Please find a summary of the Minister's statement as follows. More details will be published on this website as they become known:
Temporary Skilled visa holders
Visitor visa holders
Student visa holders
New Zealanders on 444 visas
Working Holiday Makers
Other temporary visa holders in Australia
Please contact your PwC Australia immigration advisor to discuss the practical application of these changes to your business and your visa holders.
From 29 March 2020, all travellers entering Australia (including Australian citizens and permanent residents) are required to undertake a mandatory quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Travellers will be transported directly from the airport of arrival to designated facilities. The designated facilities where the quarantine will take place (for example a hotel) will usually be in the city of arrival in Australia. This mandatory quarantine requirement is in place until further notice.
From midday 25 March 2020, Australian citizens and permanent residents are restricted from travelling outside Australia (by air or sea or the operator of an outgoing aircraft or vessel), unless an exemption is granted to them. This Determination is in force for an initial period of 4 weeks.
If an Australian Citizen or permanent resident must travel, they are required to make a request in writing only if one of the following exemptions apply:
An exemption must be granted to the Australian Citizen or permanent resident prior to them departing Australia. A person who fails to comply with the travel restriction may commit a criminal offence and be imprisoned for a maximum 5 years, or be fined 300 penalty units ($63,000).
PwC's immigration team can assist with travel exemptions for individuals travelling inbound to or outbound from Australia, if there are compelling or compassionate reasons. Please contact your PwC immigration advisor for further details.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs will consider requests from temporary visa holders affected by the travel ban to travel to Australia. Please note only travellers who have compassionate or compelling reasons to travel to Australia should contact the Department for an exemption. Please find a link to the exemption form here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/covid19-enquiry-form
Travellers should wait for the Department's response about whether an exemption is granted before arranging travel to Australia. If granted an exemption to travel, travellers should ensure they carry evidence of adequate accommodation arrangements in Australia to comply with the 14 day self isolation requirement.
The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has confirmed the Australian travel ban is for all international travellers to Australia. The only exemptions are for:
Please note the travel ban takes effect from 9pm AEDT on Friday 20 March 2020. Restrictions are in place until further notice. Please bookmark this website for further updates.
Those exempt from the travel ban will continue to be subject to a 14 day self isolation period upon arrival in Australia.
You should consider the following at this time:
These are challenging times, and we are here to support you in any way we can. Please contact PwC Australia's immigration team if you need help or advice.
The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has announced a travel ban on all non-residents and non-Australian citizens coming into Australia. This will be effective from 9pm AEDT on Friday 20 March 2020. More details on how this will impact existing Australian visa holders to follow.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised all Australians not to travel overseas at this time. This is the highest advice level (4 out of 4). The Department has urged all Australians who are overseas and wish to return to Australia to do so as soon as possible before global travel restrictions intensify. Australian consular support overseas may be limited due to the restrictions on movement and other services.
The Department's update can be found here: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/news-and-updates/coronavirus-covid-19
Over the weekend the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a universal precautionary self-isolation requirement to halt the spread of COVID-19. From midnight 15 March 2020 onwards:
In addition, restrictions will continue to apply to travellers arriving from any part of mainland China, Republic of Korea, Italy and Iran. Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited through one of these countries within the previous 14 days. Australian citizens and permanent residents, their immediate family members and New Zealand citizen residents of Australia are exempt, however are required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day they left mainland China, Republic of Korea, Italy or Iran.
Some state governments (including Queensland, NSW and Victoria) have already passed laws introducing heavy penalties for those who do not comply with self-isolation requirements.
Please contact your PwC immigration advisor if you have any questions or require further analysis on any of these or other visa situations.
These self-isolation requirements are temporary and will be reviewed frequently by the Australian government; we will continue to keep you updated. If you have any questions or concerns about how these restrictions will impact your people, your visas or your business, please contact your PwC Immigration advisor below.