The Australian Government has recently announced that “…as of 1 February 2020 all travellers arriving from any part of mainland China, regardless of nationality, will be subject to enhanced border control measures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the Australian community.” While these measures are only temporary they could have a significant impact on our clients, depending on their circumstances.
The travel restrictions will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited mainland China from 1 February 2020 unless they are:
- an Australian citizen
- a permanent resident
- an immediate family member of the above (including spouses, minor dependents and legal guardians).
Temporary visa holders (such as people on a bridging visa) will not be eligible for entry into Australia under these measures. Any person who holds a temporary visa and has travelled to or via mainland China from 1 February 2020 should not travel to Australia at this time. They will not be allowed to board a flight. If a person arrives in Australia and is determined to have been in mainland China from the above date, their visa will be cancelled and they will be placed in an alternative place of detention for a quarantine period. They would also be liable to pay a hefty fee (imposed by the Department of Home Affairs) which accrues for each day they are held in detention.
If a temporary visa holder has not travelled to or via mainland China, then they should be allowed to return to Australia without issue.
It is also important that all temporary visa holders consider the impact these measure may have on their visa conditions. Many visas impose travel restrictions and there could be difficulties if a client cannot re-enter Australia in time to comply with their visa. For example, under a Bridging Visa B a client could be permitted to leave Australia for a specified period but if they do not return to Australia before the end date, even if this failure to return was due to the above travel restrictions, their visa would cease. In that situation, the client would need to apply for and be granted another visa before they could re-enter Australia.
Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family will still be allowed to enter Australia regardless of having visited China. However, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they left mainland China.
These measures will be reviewed on 14 February 2020.
Please click here for more information on the Department of Home Affairs’ website.