Australia’s Visitor Visa: What You Need To Know Before Applying For an Extension or Travel Ban Exemption During Covid-19 Pandemic

With Australia’s visitor visa, one can visit the country as a tourist, to see loved ones, or for purposes other than business or medical treatment. One can lodge the application either onshore or offshore, whichever is convenient for you. Usually, this is a temporary visa, and applicants are allowed to stay in Australia for not more than 12 months. 


However, due to the pandemic, there are several changes concerning this visa. Owing to the travel restrictions driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, offshore visitor visa grants are quite minimal. Visits to Australia are limited, and one has to meet certain health requirements before they’re allowed into the country. 


While the Department of Home Affairs is still granting visitor visas, this visa category is quite rare at this time and only those with an exemption from the travel ban can be allowed into the country. The situation is set to remain unchanged until we subdue the pandemic.


Here’s what you need to know about Australia’s visitor visa under current circumstances:

  • Only under special circumstances is one allowed into the country on a visitor visa.
  • If you’re intending to travel to Australia, you must have an exemption from Australia’s travel ban.
  • One isn’t allowed to extend a visitor visa under Australian migration law.
  • In case your visa has a further stay condition, you need a waiver. 

Can Your Parents Visit for a Short Time?

Initially, before the pandemic, you could have your parents or grandparents visit and stay with you in Australia for some time. However, due to the travel restrictions fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic, anyone who’s not an Australian citizen or a permanent resident isn’t allowed in the country. If they have to travel to the country, they must get a travel ban exemption from the Australian Border Force, though it’s still close to impossible to get one. 


The Department of Home Affairs assesses the exemptions individually. For one to qualify for a travel ban exemption, they should meet the visitor visa criteria and give a genuine reason for their travel to Australia. Even then, it’s still not clear how the Department assesses the exemptions. 

What Are the Exemption Categories for a Visitor Visa?

According to the Department of Home Affairs, one is automatically exempted from the Covid-19 travel restrictions without the need for individual exemption if they’re:

  • A citizen of Australia
  • A permanent resident of Australia
  • An immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • A New Zealand citizen who usually resides in Australia with their immediate family members
  • A diplomat accredited to Australia with visa subclass 995
  • A traveler passing through Australia for less than 72 hours
  • Airline crew
  • Recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
  • Maritime crew, marine pilots included

For each of these categories, one has to provide solid proof to qualify for the exemption. The Department may also ask for additional evidence where necessary.

Individual Exemptions

An applicant may be granted an individual exemption by the Australian Border Force if they’re:

  • Offering critical or specialist medical services such as medical evacuations, air ambulance, or delivering critical medical supplies.
  • Non-Australian citizen working in a critical sector or possess critical skills.
  • Non-citizen invited by the Australian government, state, or territory for purposes of responding to the pandemic.
  • Non-Australian citizen who’s been sponsored by the employer to fill an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List.
  • Non-citizen who’s travel into the country is of national interest, approved by the Australian government, territory, or state government.
  • Military personnel
  • Travelling for genuine and compelling reasons

Applicants are required to apply for an exemption online and provide sufficient evidence to support their claims. Your request may be finalized without consideration in case the Department finds the evidence provided inadequate. Lastly, you’re required to translate all the supporting documents to English before submitting your application. 


What You Should Know if You’re Seeking Visa Extension

At the time Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, some people had traveled to Australia on a visitor visa. However, due to the travel restrictions, they weren’t able to travel back to their countries for some time. 


In order to remain in the country, many such individuals were required to apply for a new visitor visa at short notice. Even so, since borders are beginning to open up, visitor visa holders now have two options: they can either travel back to their respective countries or extend their stay by applying for another visitor visa. This is a separate application for a completely new visa meaning the conditions from your previous visa will not apply to the new visitor visa. This comes with a new validity period and expiry date. 


Temporary visa holders are required to apply for a new visa before the current one expires to extend their stay in Australia. The Department of Home Affairs will grant applicants a bridging visa that would allow them to remain in the country until a decision is made on the new application. This will only come into effect upon the expiry of your current visa and carries across the same conditions. 


It’s essential to note that there are special requirements for this visa, and you should check them before lodging an application. In the case of a “No Further Stay” condition, you must request a waiver before applying for a new visa to extend your stay. 


Eligibility Criteria for an Australian Visitor Visa 

One can only apply for this visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • The current visa hasn’t expired
  • There are no conditions of the visa that would prevent them from extending their stay, mainly the no further stay condition 8503.
  • The total period of stay in Australia doesn’t exceed 12 consectuive months unless exceptional circumstances apply

Generally, that’s all you need to know about a visitor visa. If you’re intending to travel to Australia, you may want to postpone your journey until the pandemic subsides and the travel restrictions lifted. 


If you would like to obtain more information regarding Australian visa or require any sort of immigration assitance, No Border Migration is at your service. Our friendly registered migration agents or immigration lawyers can discuss the best visa options for you. Please contact us on 1300 066 267 / 07 3876 4000 or email to [email protected].

Book a free consultation today and let us help you find a way forward.