Australian Immigration Covid-19 Update

Australian Immigration COVID-19 update

To help keep our visitors who are looking to migrate to Australia informed of the latest COVID-19 updates, please find the latest relevant updates below. We will update this page regularly, so we recommend you bookmark and check back periodically. The timestamp for the last time this list was updated is 2021-05-03 16:42:04

Immigration COVID-19 update


Update 3 May 2021

From today, travellers who have been in India for the 14 days before their departure cannot enter Australia before 15 May 2021. This includes Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia. Very limited exemptions apply (mainly for flight and medical crew and diplomatic staff). 

Failure to comply with this emergency determination may incur a civil penalty or five years’ imprisonment or both. 

Australia will reconsider flights from India on 15 May following advice from its Chief Medical Officer.

Update 28 April 2021

Direct passenger flights from India to Australia will be paused until 15 May. Indirect flights from India to Australia through Doha, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur have also been paused by their respective governments. 

Travel exemptions in order to travel from Australia to India and other high risk COVID-19 countries (yet to be announced) will only be granted in very limited circumstances going forward. This includes:

  • critical workers providing assistance to the country of destination’s COVID-19 response;

  • persons undertaking travel in Australia’s national interest; or

  • persons seeking urgent medical treatment for a critical illness that is unable to be treated in Australia.

Inbound travel exemptions from India to Australia may also be reconsidered in line with this policy change. 

The Prime Minister announced that when and if flights from India are resumed, all passengers will be required to have both a negative PCR test and a negative rapid antigen test prior to travel.

Update 23 April 2021

Yesterday the Australian Prime Minister announced that additional restrictions would be placed on travellers (including Australian citizens and permanent residents) entering Australia from high risk countries:

  • Anyone entering Australia who has been in a high risk country in the last 14 days before entering Australia and is transiting through a third country will need to return a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to entering Australia from the final point of embarkation.

  • The Government will further restrict outbound travel exemptions to high risk countries to strictly essential travel only.

The Australian government will soon release a list of countries it deems as high risk. In the meantime, the following measures are being introduced as protection against the significant increase of COVID-19 cases in India:

  • 30% less commercial flights direct from India to Australia, as soon as practicable, and

  • Reduction in the number of passengers on Government facilitated flights to Australia until the rate of COVID-19 cases in India have decreased, and

  • Approximately 30% less capacity for Australians returning from India on Government-facilitated flights during May 2021, and

  • Australia will seek Rapid Antigen Testing for Australians returning on direct flights from high risk countries.

These actions are consistent with announcements from other countries, with New Zealand and the UK recently announcing travel suspensions/restrictions from India for the time being.

These developments will impact on how travel exemptions are issued for travellers coming from high risk countries. We will update this site with a list of high risk countries as soon as available. In the meantime, please contact your PwC Australia immigration team representative if you would like to discuss.

Update as at 7 April 2021

Quarantine Free Travel (QFT) will commence between New Zealand and Australia as of 18 April 2021 at 11:59pm. This means that families can be reunited, tourism will get a boost and equally importantly, Australian and New Zealand businesses can recruit much needed skills and talent from each other

From now, (visa applications can be lodged immediately), New Zealand employers who identify candidates they wish to employ who are in Australia, no longer need to go through the border exception and critical worker visa application process. As a New Zealand employer, anyone recruited from Australia may enter New Zealand (as long as they meet pre-travel criteria) without going through mandatory isolation and quarantine and by meeting pre-COVID-19 visa requirements.  

In order to qualify for QFT to New Zealand a traveller must:

  • hold a valid New Zealand electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) (if eligible to travel visa waiver) and apply for a visa on arrival at the border,

  • apply for and hold a current visa before travel, or

  • if an Australian citizen, travel visa-waiver and apply for a resident visa on arrival at the border.

To travel to New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, you must meet pre-travel criteria and also complete an online travel declaration before you travel. This declaration is being finalised and will be available from 14 April.

Similarly, travellers who have been in New Zealand for 14 days are permitted to travel by air to Australia quarantine-free, without applying for a travel exemption. An Australian Travel Declaration must be completed at least 72 hours before travel to Australia. 

For Australian and New Zealand employers, the borders are now open for skills and talent from across the pond. Immigration New Zealand will accept visa applications from non-Australian citizens who are currently in Australia (and have been for at least 14 days) to apply for visas from offshore. These travellers/applicants must be in Australia when they apply and must travel to New Zealand from a QFT area. In Australia, the Department of Home Affairs also accepts visa applications from applicants located offshore.

Please contact your PwC Australia immigration representative if you would like any further information.

Update as at 23 March 2021

The outbound travel ban on Australian citizens and permanent residents travelling from Australia to New Zealand has been lifted. Travellers must have been present in Australia for 14 days immediately before travel to New Zealand (applies to direct travel only). No outbound travel exemption from Australia is required. 

So far New Zealand has not confirmed quarantine free travel for Australians. For now a New Zealand travel exemption (except for Australians normally resident in New Zealand) and mandatory quarantine is still required for Australian citizens and permanent residents travelling to New Zealand. Please check back for further details soon.

Update as at 3 March 2021

The Australian Government has announced Australia’s current border restrictions will be extended until 17 June 2021. Officially known as the human biosecurity emergency period under the Biosecurity Act 2015, the continuation of border restrictions means current requirements to obtain an exemption to travel to and from Australia in certain circumstances remains in place. Please contact PwC Australia’s immigration team for further details.

Update as at 17 February 2021

Global Talent Independent Visa Update

The Australian Government continues to expand its Global Talent visa program and is now accepting candidates from the following updated list of target sectors:

  • Resources (e.g. critical minerals)
  • Agri-food and AgTech
  • Energy
  • Health industries
  • Defence, advanced manufacturing and space
  • Circular economy 
  • DigiTech
  • Infrastructure and tourism
  • Financial services and FinTech
  • Education

Candidates in these fields must demonstrate they can attract a high income or are high calibre PhD graduates. 

PwC has a strong track record in the global talent visa sector, so please contact us if you would like to discuss the process and requirements in detail.

Temporary concessions for certain offshore visa categories

Further to our 1 February update, temporary concessions have been announced for some visa categories which usually require the applicant to be outside of Australia at the time of visa grant. The following visa categories can be granted to applicants who are in Australia and are unable to leave due to COVID-19 travel restrictions from these dates:

From 27 February 2021 

  • Partner (subclass 309) visas
  • Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visas
  • Child (subclass 101) visas
  • Adoption (subclass 102) visas
  • Dependent Child (subclass 445) visas

From 24 March 2021 

  • Contributory Parent (subclass 173) visas
  • Contributory Parent (subclass 143) visas
  • Parent (subclass 103) visas

Update as at 5 February 2021

Today the Australian National Cabinet agreed to increase international passenger caps from 15 February. From this date, the incoming caps per state will be as follows:

  • New South Wales – 3010 passengers per week

  • Queensland – 1000 passengers per week

  • Western Australia – 512 passengers per week

  • Victoria – 1310 passengers per week

  • South Australia – 530 passengers per week

The Prime Minister affirmed that Australia’s mandatory hotel quarantine requirement is likely to continue, regardless of whether or not a traveller has had the COVID-19 vaccination.

Update as at 1 February 2021

Pre-travel COVID-19 and international passenger caps

Updated border rules have been introduced since the new year in response to recent COVID-19 clusters in Australia as well as COVID-19 variant strains overseas. 

Before travelling to Australia, all individuals (including Australian citizens) must now:

International passenger caps to Australia have also been reduced until 15 February. 

The Australian Government is committed to returning international passenger caps to previous levels after 15 February.

Exemptions to travel restrictions are still required in most cases to depart and arrive in Australia. Mandatory quarantine for 14 days is also still required upon arrival in Australia (please see our update from 17 July for applicable quarantine fees). 

Green zone flights between New Zealand and Australia

“Green zone” flights between New Zealand and Australia have now been reinstated following three confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Zealand. From 31 January, additional conditions apply to travellers arriving in Australia green zone flights, including COVID-19 testing for impacted passengers. These conditions will remain in place until 10 February 2021. 

Concessions for parent visas

The Minister for Immigration has announced it will allow certain parent visa applicants to be onshore (i.e. in Australia) at the time their visa is granted due to COVID-19. This concession should take effect sometime in early 2021, and will apply to the following parent visa subclasses:

  • Parent (subclass 103) visa
  • Contributory Parent (subclass 173) visa
  • Contributory Parent (subclass 143) visa
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Please contact PwC Australia’s immigration team for further information, and please bookmark this site for further updates.


Update as at 11 December 2020

Australian travel declaration

The Australian Government has introduced an online travel declaration that needs to be completed by all travellers entering Australia (this includes Australian citizens and those who are exempt from travel restrictions). The Australia Travel Declaration is separate to the Australian Border Force (ABF) travel exemption approval. 

The purpose of the declaration is to collect travellers’ contact details, flight details, quarantine requirements and health status. This information helps the Australian Government determine quarantine arrangements (if required) and allows relevant health departments to contact the traveller if there is a positive test for COVID-19. 

Travellers must complete and submit the travel declaration online at least 72 hours prior to arrival in Australia. A link to the travel declaration can be found here.


Update as at 30 November 2020

New occupation added to the PMSOL

Social Worker (ANZSCO 272511) is the newest occupation added to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). This addition to the PMSOL was based on advice from the National Skills Commission (NSC). The NSC has recently been created to advise the Australian government on the national labour market, workforce changes and current and emerging skills needs, including the composition of the skilled occupation lists which underpin Australia’s skilled migration program.

Businesses which sponsor foreign workers to a PMSOL occupation are able to access priority visa processing. In addition, the visa applicant themselves can more easily access travel exemptions in order to enter Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst the existing skilled occupation lists (the STSOL and MLTSSL) remain active, PMSOL applications will be given priority.

Concession for certain family visa applicants

The Department of Home Affairs has announced it will allow certain family visa applicants to be onshore (i.e. in Australia) at the time their visa is granted. The specific visa types in question normally require applicants to be outside of Australia at the time of visa approval. However a temporary concession will be made for applicants who are currently in Australia and are not able to travel overseas for visa grant due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This concession will be available from early 2021 and will apply to the following family visa subclasses:

  • Partner (subclass 309) visa
  • Prospective marriage (subclass 300) visa
  • Child (subclass 101) visa
  • Adoption (subclass 102) visa
  • Dependent child (subclass 445) visa

Please contact your PwC Australia immigration representative if you would like to further information or to discuss.


Update as at November 2020

Earlier this year, the Australian Government announced that concessions would be made available to sponsored visa holders impacted by the sudden COVID-19-related downturn. Some of these concessions have now been formalised, and we have summarised them below.

Impact of COVID-19-related reduced working hours or stand down on employer sponsored permanent residence under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)

Many employers were forced to stand-down or reduce the hours of their staff (including visa holders) due to COVID-19. For the purposes of ENS under the temporary residence transition (TRT) stream, periods of work that are not full-time could not generally be counted towards the required employment period.

Under the COVID-19 concessions, periods of unpaid/reduced hours work or employment stand-down can now count towards the required employment period.

The period of unpaid/reduced hours work or stand-down must have occurred after 1 February 2020 as a result of COVID-19. This concession applies to ENS (TRT stream) applications lodged after 1 February 2020 and still pending.

Impact on ENS applicants relying on age exemptions during COVID-19

For ENS (TRT stream) applicants who are over the age limit of 45 years, an age exemption exists if they have been considered a high income earner (the current high income threshold is $153,600 per annum).

If an individual was previously earning at the threshold, and their income was impacted by COVID-19, a concession now applies allowing them to access the age exemption in spite of their income reduction. A pro-rata income threshold for the period earnings were impacted by COVID-19 may apply.

The period of income reduction must have occurred after 1 February 2020 as a result of COVID-19. This concession applies to ENS (TRT stream) applications lodged after 1 February 2020 and still pending.

Labour Market Testing (LMT) for ENS

Further to our October update, the Department of Home Affairs has provided some clarity around its expectation for Labour Market Testing (LMT) in relation to ENS applications. Given the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, the Government is keen to ensure Australian workers are prioritised for jobs and will therefore scrutinise ENS applications closely. Factors that will be taken into account to show a genuine need for an ENS application include:

  • Whether the sponsor tried to source Australian workers for the position (advertising the job vacancy on the Government’s JobActive website or other national advertisements is particularly persuasive, although no minimum advertising period is specified)
  • Whether the application clearly establishes a genuine need to have a foreign national in a permanent role within the business

Demonstrating a genuine need is now more crucial than ever for ENS applications. If you have any questions about how to demonstrate genuine need, or if you have not advertised your role, please contact your PwC Australia immigration representative for assistance.

Global Talent Independent Program (GTIP)

The popularity of the GTIP continues, and it has quickly become the Australian Government’s preferred pathway to grant PR.

Recent changes have been made to the GTIP to broaden its appeal and make it available to a wider range of applicants. One important change to note is that GTIP applicants are now able to seek a waiver from the usual visa health requirements if they suffer from a health condition that would have otherwise led to their visa application being refused.

The Department has been flooded with expressions of interest for the GTIP recently, which is impacting response times. For this reason, we recommend contacting PwC Australia Immigration prior to EOI lodgement to assess eligibility in detail and to ensure applications are comprehensive.


Update as at 21 October 2020

Changes to outbound travel exemptions

Australian citizens and permanent residents are still not permitted to leave Australia under COVID-19 border restrictions unless a travel exemption is obtained. To date, the travel exemption criteria has been limited, but a recent change has expanded the criteria to allow travel if:

  • The travel outside of Australia is essential for your business/employer, or
  • The travel outside of Australia is for three months or longer.

Other outbound travel exemption criteria remains the same, including outbound travel to receive urgent medical treatment not available in Australia, outbound travel on compassionate or humanitarian grounds, or outbound travel in the national interest.

Outbound travel exemptions should be applied for at least two weeks, but not longer than three months, before the date of planned travel.

Automatic exemptions still exist for Australian citizens and permanent residents to depart Australia in limited circumstances, including if you are ordinarily considered a resident outside of Australia, are a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa or you perform essential work at Australian offshore facilities.

Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) App

Until now the processing of ETAs has been suspended as part of Australia’s COVID-19 border response. ETAs will now be processed again via the Department of Home Affairs’ new Australian ETA app. The app accepts applications from Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong (SAR), Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and US passport holders. Please note a travel exemption is still required, in addition to the ETA, to enter Australia.

The ETA mobile app is available on the Android and Apple app store.


Update as at 16 October 2020

From Friday 16 October 2020, individuals travelling from New Zealand are no longer required to apply for a travel exemption or undergo mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Australia. This carve out is not limited to New Zealand citizens, it applies to all individuals who meet the following criteria:

  • have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more prior to travel, and have not been in a designated COVID-19 hotspot, and
  • travelled to Australia on a quarantine-free flight.

Quarantine-free flights will only carry passengers who have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more prior to travel and have not been in any COVID-19 hotspots. Please contact your airline for further details on how to book quarantine-free flights. All travellers must present a completed COVID-19 Declaration Form when checking into quarantine-free flights at the airport. Dedicated “green” and “red” zones have been created at Australian airports to separate passengers on quarantine-free flights from all other inbound arrivals who must still undergo mandatory quarantine.

Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand is available into New South Wales and the Northern Territory only at this stage. Please note that a valid visa is still required to enter Australia. New Zealand citizens are generally eligible for a Special Category (subclass 444) visa upon arrival in Australia. Other nationalities should confirm their visa requirements prior to travel.

Please note the New Zealand travel bubble does not apply to New Zealand citizens who are outside of New Zealand. It would be necessary for overseas-based New Zealand citizens to return to New Zealand for 14 days or more before being eligible for quarantine-free travel into Australia.

These travel and quarantine-free requirements do not yet apply to Australian citizens travelling to New Zealand. The New Zealand border remains closed for now. Please feel free to bookmark this website for further updates.


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.

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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.


Update 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:

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

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 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.

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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 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 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.


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Written by Mark

As the founder of Getting Down Under, Mark is passionate about demystifying the process associated with a move to Australia. Having launched Getting Down Under in early January 2006 and made the move to Australia from the UK in the same year, Mark continues to share resources and support for those looking for assistance. If you have a question for Mark, please post in our Community Forums. Please note All information provided on Getting Down Under should be considered in conjunction with our disclaimer. Please seek professional advice if you have any doubts! 

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