11 March 2020
Possible Effects of the Coronavirus on Visas
With the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, countries around the world including Australia are taking steps to minimise the impact of the spread for public health and economic reasons. There is no doubt that in this interconnected world, visa holders too may be impacted.
Whilst we await the Australian Government’s further announcements, and without commenting on the legality of employment decisions that may stem from a downturn in business, employers of sponsored employees must be mindful of the following:
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has raised its travel advisories for the following countries:
- China – Do not travel
- Iran – Do not travel
- Republic of Korea – Do not travel
- Italy – Reconsider need to travel with do not travel to parts of northern Italy
Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who have been to the above countries will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through those countries.
Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependants only). They will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day they left China, Iran or the Republic of Korea.
Effect on sponsored employees
- If the employment of sponsored employees ends, employers are required to notify the Department within 28 days of the last working date, and sponsors are required to pay return travel costs for the employee and any accompanying family member if that request is made in writing;
- Future applications to sponsor overseas workers may be adversely impacted if Australian workers in the same nominated occupations are made redundant;
- Part-time work is currently available to existing TSS visa holders if returning to work after a period of sick leave, for example, however the pro-rata hourly rate of the approved nominated salary must not decrease, and the role and duties must remain consistent. Part-time work must be mutually agreed and is currently not appropriate where it occurs due to a decline in business;
- Part-time work and Leave Without Pay arrangements will have implications for permanent residence eligibility under the Temporary Residence Transition stream (requiring 3 years of full-time employment), unless special provisions are announced;
- Reduction in salary for sponsored employees is only permissible if a new nomination is approved, and the employer is able to provide new supporting evidence of market rates.
- Last but not least, this is a timely reminder of the requirement for sponsored employees to maintain private health cover if not eligible for Medicare.
Effect on visa processing
- There are considerable delays in being able to arrange health /police checks from certain countries, such as China and Hong Kong and Italy where services have been limited;
- Slower processing of applications – we have seen processing of TSS applications be delayed where the applicant has been in a “high risk” country.
Effect on future citizenship/RRV eligibility
- Permanent residents of Australia who are currently unable to enter Australia due to illness, may, unless special provisions are announced, have their eligibility for Australian Citizenship or Resident Return visas impacted if they are outside of Australia for significant periods of time.
DISCLAIMER This information is current as of 11 March 2020 and subject to change. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.