With many flights out of Australia cancelled and even fewer places you can fly to, those already in Australia on visitor visas are wondering what they can do.
In general, those in Australia on visitor visas are not meant to stay in Australia longer than 12 consecutive months. However, during COVID-19, these circumstances have changed.
Here are a few examples of the typical tourist visa within Australia during COVID-19:
- Louis came to Australia on a 600 visitor visa, which indicated he was allowed to stay here for only 3 months on each arrival. The visa itself is valid for 3 years. In the past, he has gone to New Zealand and back, twice, to extend his stay for another 3 months. Now with the travel bans, that is no longer possible. Before Louis’s 3 months is over and his visa will expire, he can apply for a new 600 Visitor visa and ask for a visa that will last a further 9 months.
Louis is only asking for another 9 months because, in total, that will take him to a consecutive 12 months in Australia.
- Jennifer has been in Australia for nearly 12 months already on a long term tourist visa. She wants to go back home, but now all flights have been canceled to India from Australia. In addition to this, India has now stopped all international flights into their country. Jennifer’s visa is going to expire next week.
Jennifer can apply for another tourist visa for a further 12 months. There are exceptional circumstances she can claim to remain in Australia on a tourist visa for more than 12 consecutive months.
- Tom has a long-term tourist visa valid for 3 years. It has Condition 8558 imposed upon the visa. This condition only allows less than 12 months in any 18 months of stay in Australia. Tom has already stayed here for 10 months but now his ticket home has been cancelled. Tom cannot find a flight back to his home country and other countries will not permit his entry.
Tom needs to apply for another long term visa as soon as he can and claim exceptional circumstances. He should NOT remain in Australia and breach his Condition 8558. If he breaches his Condition 8558, it may potentially jeopardise the chance of future visa grant and he could have his current visa cancelled.
- Sarah is in Australia on a 6-month tourist visa with an imposed Condition 8503. Due to unforeseen and unexpected circumstances, her home country has closed its borders including it’s own citizens. Sarah cannot get home.
Sarah needs to apply for a waiver of the Condition 8503 as soon as possible. Without that waiver, she is very limited in what type of visa she could apply for while she remains in Australia. The Department of Home Affairs is likely to consider a waiver request favourably to Sarah’s current circumstance.
Working Holiday 417 & 462 Visa
Working Holiday Visa holders cannot apply for a tourist visa onshore unless you have exceptional circumstances. If you are unable to return to your home country or are unable to secure a flight out of Australia, you can consider a tourist visa or other visa options.
Temporary Activity 408 Visa
Temporary Activity 408 Visa holders are allowed to stay in Australia for 12 months to work during critical sectors including healthcare sectors, agricultural sectors, food processing, aged care, disability care, child care and many more.