Immigration COVID-19 update

Immigration COVID-19 update


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Update as at 10 September 2020

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:

  • an Australian citizen
  • a permanent resident of Australia
  • an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members
  • a diplomat accredited to Australia (holding a subclass 995 visa)
  • a traveller transiting Australia for 72 hours or less
  • airline crew
  • maritime crew including marine pilots
  • recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
  • holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa

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 there have been any retrenchments, stand downs or reductions of hours in the past 12 months
  • if there have been any reduction in pay and conditions in the past 12 months
  • if there are any temporary visa holders on conditions less favourable than comparable Australian workers recruitment of temporary visa holders beyond the ordinary scope of the business.

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.

Updates as at 2 September 2020

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:

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director (111111)
  • Construction Project Manager (133111) 
  • Mechanical Engineer (233512) 
  • General Practitioner (253111) 
  • Resident Medical Officer (253112) 
  • Psychiatrist (253411) 
  • Medical Practitioner nec (253999) 
  • Midwife (254111) 
  • Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (254412) 
  • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) (254415) 
  • Registered Nurse (Medical) (254418) 
  • Registered Nurse (Mental Health) (254422)
  • Registered Nurse (Perioperative) (254423) 
  • Registered Nurses nec (254499) 
  • Developer Programmer (261312) 
  • Software Engineer (261313) 
  • Maintenance Planner (312911)

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:

  • An advertisement on the Employment Department’s Jobactive website (; and
  • At least two advertisements on one or more the following forums:
    • A recruitment website with a national reach in Australia (other than Jobactive; examples include Seek and Indeed);
    • Print media with national reach in Australia;
    • Radio with national reach in Australia;
    • If you are an accredited sponsor, on your company website.

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.

Update as at 5 August 2020

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:

  • those delivering services in sectors critical to Australia's economic recovery (including financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available; and
  • those with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as critical infrastructure, medical technology, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, agricultural technology, food production and the maritime industry).

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.


Update as at 20 July 2020

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:

  • Recommencing offshore student visa processing, allowing prospective international students to have their Australian visas ready for when borders eventually re-open.
  • If an international student was unable to complete their studies due to COVID-19, they will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge.
  • Current students studying online from outside of Australia will be able to count this time towards the Australian study requirement. This means that post-study visa pathways, such as the Temporary Graduate (485) visa, remain open to student visa holders who have had no choice but to continue their studies remotely.
  • Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post study work visa outside of Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.
  • Additional time will be given to applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to language testing facilities.

We will be sure to share further details once announced. Please contact your PwC immigration representative if you have any questions.


Update as at 17 July 2020

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:

  • Perth: a cap of 525 international passengers per week.
  • Brisbane: a cap of 500 international passengers per week.
  • Sydney: a cap of 450 international passengers per day, with a view to make further reductions in subsequent weeks.
  • Melbourne: no international passengers.

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.

Quarantine fees

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.


Update as at 22 June 2020

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). 


  • Applies to all new visa applicants in the H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 category who are outside of the US and who do NOT already have a visa stamp in their passport as of the effective date of the proclamation.
  • This suspension applies to all dependents of these visas who are outside US and who do not have a visa stamp in their passport.
  • Suspension is effective starting Wednesday, June 24th at 12:01 am NY time, Thursday, June 25th at 2pm Sydney time. 
  • Suspension goes until December 31, 2020, but will be monitored at 30 days and then every 60 days and possibly modified.
  • Those whose entry is in the national interest (i.e. defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, national security, medical care related to covid-19, medical research connected to covid-19) may apply for exemption to the government.
  • Those whose entry is essential to the US “food supply chain” may apply for an exemption to the government. 
  • Those whose entry is “necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States,” may apply for an exemption. 
  • It appears that Canadian nationals may be exempt as they do not require a visa stamp for the suspended classifications. Travel should be discussed with PwC until we receive additional clarification from the government.
  • Although the suspension most likely does not apply to those already in the US as of the effective date, if someone is currently in the US in H-1B, H-2B, J-1, L-1 or any dependent status and does not already have a valid visa stamp in their passport, they SHOULD NOT travel outside the US as they will not be allowed to return.
  • We are awaiting additional clarification from the government as to those in valid status in the suspended categories and their ability to obtain visa renewals, as it is not clear what evidence someone already in the US needs to show to prove that they are exempt from the suspension. 
  • Temporary workers already seeking new H-1Bs or L-1s were already impacted as US Consulates are closed due to covid-19, so as with the immigrant visa suspension, this proclamation does impact many workers. 
  • Proclamation 10014 relating to immigrant suspension remains in effect, and has been extended until Dec. 31 2020. 

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.


Update as at 19 May 2020  

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:

  • be in Australia; and
  • be unable to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions; and
  • not eligible for any other visa; and
  • hold a temporary visa which is about to expire (in less than 28 days) or which expired less than 28 days before the application.

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.


Update as at 6 April 2020  

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

  • Temporary Skilled visa holders (including 482 visa holders) who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and sponsors will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. 
  • Sponsors will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa condition or the sponsors being in breach of their sponsorship obligations.
  • Temporary Skilled visa holders (including 482 visa holders)  will also be able to access up to AUD10,000 of their superannuation this financial year. 
  • Those temporary visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus should leave the country in line with existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. However, should a 4-year visa holder be re-employed after the coronavirus pandemic, their time already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residency skilled work experience requirements.

Visitor visa holders  

  • Visitor visa holders are encouraged to return to their home countries as soon as possible, particularly those without family support.

Student visa holders  

  • Student visa holders who have been in Australia for longer than 12 months and find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation. 
  • Student visa holders working in the major supermarkets also had these hours extended to help get stock on shelves during the high demand. From 1 May, their hours will return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight as more Australians are being recruited into these roles.
  • The Government will also be flexible in cases where Coronavirus has prevented international students meeting their visa conditions (such as not being able attend classes).  

New Zealanders on 444 visas

  • New Zealanders who are on 444 visas and arrived before 26 February 2001 will have access to welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment.  
  • New Zealanders on 444 visas who arrived in Australia after 2001 have access to the JobKeeper payment. 
  • Those who have lived in Australia for 10 years or more have access to JobSeeker payments for six months.
  • New Zealanders should consider returning to New Zealand if they are unable to support themselves through these provisions, work or family support.  

Working Holiday Makers

  • Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in the critical sectors of heath, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare,  will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months. 
  •  Working holiday makers that do not have the confidence to sustain themselves over the next six months should make arrangements to leave Australia.
  • Conditions will be placed upon visa holders to self-isolate for 14 days before taking up employment in a different region (including termination of visas where there is non-compliance).
  • To support implementation of self-isolation arrangements for visa holders and avoid spread of COVID-19 the government is working with states and territories on enforcement and sanction mechanisms.
  • Employers will need to commit to providing safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements.
  • Arrangement will also need to be in place for a declaration between employers and employees that all protocols necessary to ensure human health and accommodation requirements have been met.

Other temporary visa holders in Australia

  • Other temporary visa holders in Australia, including temporary graduate visa holders, will be able to access their Australian superannuation if needed.

Please contact your PwC Australia immigration advisor to discuss the practical application of these changes to your business and your visa holders. 


Update as at 29 March 2020

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. 


Updates as at 25 March 2020

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:

  • they are a person ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia;
  • they are a person who is member of the crew of an aircraft or vessel (other than an outgoing aircraft vessel) or if a worker associated with the safety or maintenance of the aircraft or vessel;
  • they are a person engaged in the day to day conduct of inbound and outbound freight;
  • they are a person whose travel is associated with essential work at an offshore facility;
  • they are a person who is travelling on official government business (including a member of the Australian Defence Force);
  • exceptional circumstances or compelling reason for needing to leave Australian territory.

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.


Updates as at 23 March

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:

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.


Updates as at 20th of March

The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has confirmed the Australian travel ban is for all international travellers to Australia. The only exemptions are for:

  • Australian citizens
  • Australian permanent residents
  • Immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents (immediate family includes spouses, legal guardians and dependents)
  • New Zealand citizens who live in Australia as Australian residents, and
  • New Zealand citizens transiting through Australia on their way to New Zealand and Pacific Islanders transiting through Australia on their way to their home countries.

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:

  • If you are a temporary visa holder (including a 482 visa holder), and are currently outside of Australia and wish to return, we recommend that you return to Australia before the 9pm AEDT travel ban commencement on Friday 20 March 2020
  • When entering Australia, we recommend all visa holders carry evidence of adequate accommodation arrangements in Australia to comply with the 14 day self isolation requirement
  • Immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents must ensure they hold a valid Australian visa in their own right. Before attempting to travel to Australia, immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents (who are not permanent residents themselves) should contact the Department of Home Affairs using the Immigration Enquiry Form provided on the Department's website for pre-travel clearance. Here is a link: . Immediate family members must attach proof that they are related to an Australian citizen or permanent resident into the Immigration Enquiry Form. This can include a marriage certificate, evidence of de-facto relationship (such as shared finances and/or property), birth certificates for children etc. We also recommend carrying proof of relationship with you when you enter Australia
  • Partner and Child visa holders (except Prospective Marriage visa holders) are exempted from the travel ban and can come to Australia. They will need to self isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Australia, either at home or in a hotel
  • New Zealand citizens who live in Australia as Australian residents may wish to carry evidence of their Australian residency when entering Australia (for example an Australian driver's licence or other official documentation showing their name and residential address in Australia)
  • New Zealand and Pacific Island nation citizens transiting through Australia should carry evidence of their onward flights out of Australia
  • Temporary visa holders already in Australia may remain in Australia. However temporary visa holders must maintain a valid visa. 

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. 


Update as at 19th of March

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.


Update as at 18th of March

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:  


Update as at 16th of March

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:

  • all international arrivals to Australia are required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival. This includes Australian citizens and permanent residents
  • all cruise liners from foreign ports are banned from arriving at Australian ports for 30 days

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.


What you should consider for your business and your people

  • Do you have any Australian employees travelling overseas at the moment? These employees and their business leaders will need to be informed of the self-isolation requirement.
  • Do you have any temporary visa holders travelling overseas at the moment? These employees and their business leaders should also be made aware of the self-isolation requirement. We would recommend that they carry evidence of adequate accommodation arrangements in Australia for their self-isolation. 
  • Are any of these Australian employees (i.e. Australian citizens or permanent residents) travelling with immediate family members on temporary visas? The Department of Home Affairs is considering the entry of immediate family members travelling on temporary visas on a case by case basis, especially if they have travelled through mainland China, Republic of Korea, Italy and Iran.
  • Do you have any temporary visa holders nearing their visa expiry date? We recommend that you consider further visa pathways to ensure they can remain in Australia, if required.
  • Do you have any temporary visa holders with a "no further stay" condition attached to their visa? If they are impacted by COVID-19, the Department of Home Affairs might consider a waiver for this cohort.
  • Do you have any employees who are currently offshore and need to enter Australia by a specified date for visa purposes? This cohort might be able to request for an entry date extension, or otherwise may need to make arrangements for another entry visa. 

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. 



Contact us

Carter Bovard

Asia-Pacific Immigration Practice Leader | MARN: 0956696, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 3 8603 1879

Nikki Dryden

Director - US Immigration, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 5652

Stacey Tsui

Director | MARN 0747379, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 0734

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