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Here’s how the coronavirus outbreak could impact temporary visa holders and applicants

Which Australian visa holders are eligible for government support? Source: SBS

Social media platforms and migrant forums are rife with speculation with many temporary migrants questioning how the rapidly changing situation could impact their current visa status or applications in process.

Melbourne-based migration agent Rohit Mohan said for those on temporary visas who are currently in Australia, and who were not in or transiting through mainland China, Iran, Republic of Korea or Italy, their visas will not be affected.

“If you’re an Indian national, you may travel to India. You may, however, be subjected to two weeks of quarantine, depending on your travel history and medical conditions.”


Highlights:

  • Uncertainty looms as countries increase travel restrictions
  • Migration agents warn Indian nationals against travelling outside the country
  • "Remain updated and vigilant as travel advisories are changing rapidly," advise migration agents

Coronavirus alert signage at New Delhi International airport in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus alert signage at New Delhi International airport in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.
AAP

'Do not travel to India'

He, however, cautioned that things are changing rapidly and there is a real possibility that Australia may revise its travel advisory soon, that may leave many offshore travellers in difficult situations, like those in China.

“We are advising people, particularly those who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents to avoid travelling to India in the present circumstances.

“Besides their health, travelling outside Australia may also leave them in a situation where they won’t be able to return to Australia unless the restrictions are lifted. And nobody knows for how long the crisis would last,” said Mr Mohan.

It is important to point out that there are currently no travel restrictions on Indian nationals wanting to return to Australia, unless they were not in or transiting through mainland China, Iran, Republic of Korea or Italy.

coronavirus
Passengers undergo temperature check as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India
AAP Image/AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

Impact on Bridging B Visa Holders:

Adding to the narrative, Jujhar Bajwa, another migration agent from Melbourne said they are also advising people on Bridging B visas planning to or already in India to “return at the earliest.”

“If you’re already in India on a Bridging visa B, my advice would be to return at the earliest, because if Australia suspends entry of temporary migrants, you may be required to stay for an extended period, outside the country, resulting in a breach.

“While it is understandable that the breach would not be deliberate, it, however, will affect your life and circumstances in Australia.”

He added that the rationale behind the advice is to prevent temporary migrants from being locked out of the country, depending on how the situation unfolds in days to come.

“I am reiterating that right now there are no such restrictions on inbound travellers temporary or permanent provided you haven’t travelled through virus-affected countries and do not have symptoms.

“This is cautionary advice because like other countries, Australia may also prioritise the return of citizens and permanent residents over temporary visa holders,” said Mr Bajwa.

Australian visa and citizenship processing times
Will travel restrictions have an impact on processing times?
Getty Images

Impact on visa processing times:

For those wondering if the restrictions would impact visa processing times, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Punjabi that “It is expected that normal processing times will apply to visa applications not impacted by the travel restrictions.”

But migration agents claimed this too may change.

 “We are already witnessing a slight increase in processing times for visitor visas. While approvals for certain visas have already slowed and if the virus continues to spread, it is highly likely that we may witness a significant increase in waiting periods in months to come,” said Mr Bajwa.

'Remain updated and vigilant'

Migration consultant Ranbir Singh said visa holders and applicants need to remain vigilant about checking for updates and information provided by the Department of Home Affairs.

But he added that at this point, “there is no need to push the panic button.”

“Please stay calm and remain vigilant. Things may change but at present, there is no official correspondence from the Department.

“But think logically. Do not travel outside the country unless it is absolutely necessary, first for the sake of your health and then of course visa,” said Mr Singh.

Disclaimer: This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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