What will happen to visas that have already been granted? Are they still valid?
The standard tourist visa (subclass 600) granted by the Australian High Commission’s Department of Home Affairs is valid for travel up to a period of one year. For example, if the visa is granted on January 1, 2020, the traveller can enter Australia on or before December 31, 2020, and could stay for a period of up to three months from the date of entry. So the visa issued during or pre COVID-19 period is still valid for travel to Australia, once the borders open. Note: Please check the validity of the visa in the electronic notification that has been sent to your registered email ID. All visas that have been granted remain valid until the date specified on the visa grant notification letter, which will have been sent to the nominated email address.
What is happening to passports that were submitted for a visa before the coronavirus pandemic?
There is no requirement to send physical copies of your passport or financial documents in association with a visa application. Visa applicants are encouraged to submit applications online via ImmiAccount at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/.
What new policies will be introduced to obtain a visa? Will there be a need for health passports and a negative coronavirus test or vaccination?
Any new policies relating to visa applications will be included at www.homeaffairs.gov.au, and any updates relating to Australia's immigration and border arrangements during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak will be at https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/
Medical examinations are required for visa applicants in certain circumstances. However, health passports and a negative coronavirus test or vaccinations are not currently included in these.
What is the state of tourism in the country right now?
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected citizens across the world by bringing various aspects of our life to an unexpected halt and amidst this scenario, the tourism industry has also come to a complete standstill. However, we are confident that the industry will recover and curate a new normal.
Australia has recently begun to ease some of the COVID-19 restrictions including the opening up of intrastate travel and some interstate borders to encourage domestic travel ahead of the return to international travel. Tourism Australia continues to focus on this with industry partners and trade to prepare for when international travel resumes and Australia can once again safely welcome travellers from India.
Although most of the world is in lockdown or isolation, there are still opportunities to engage our customers by sharing content that continues to inspire them to visit Australia when consumer confidence returns. In line with this, we released our new ‘With Love from Aus’ video across our social media channels, which we hope will do just that by inspiring people by sharing with them places that they’ll be able to explore in the future.
We’re also staying close to and supporting our commercial, distribution and airline partners, in Australia and in the market, to ensure that they are a key part of our recovery plans. And we’re continuing to engage with and educate front-line sales staff in our key markets via the Aussie Specialist Programme. In recent weeks, we’ve continued to train and conduct webinars for thousands of Aussie Specialist Agents across key markets such as Europe, India, China and in Japan. Throughout the crisis, which has brought so much change and uncertainty, our industry and operators have remained top of mind for us.
In fact, we have stepped up our communications, including launching a weekly webinar series, to keep industry informed and updated on public health measures, travel restrictions as well as the various government support packages being made available. The webinars, in particular, have been well received and we’ve hosted Australia’s Tourism Minister, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, the Mental Health Commissioner and even the Prime Minister of Australia.
How open is the country to foreign tourists?
Australia is one of the few countries that has effectively flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases. As a result, the Australian government, along with the states and territories, have begun to lift restrictions to manage the COVID-19 situation. This includes the easing of restrictions to allow for domestic movement within the country. However, from an international perspective, there has been talk of introducing the ‘trans-Tasman’ travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia as a possible first step forward towards reinstating inter-country travel.
As the country looks to ease restrictions, including travel and border security measures, the Australian government has issued a 3-step recovery plan towards a COVIDSafe Australia that provides a roadmap towards the resumption of day-to-day activities and the lifting of travel restrictions.
We are operating on a day-by-day analysis of the situation in our other target markets internationally, in preparation for when international borders eventually reopen and international travel to Australia resumes.
We understand that once the restrictions lift, travellers are likely to prefer destinations that emerge stronger through phases of recovery. Hence, it is our priority for the Australian tourism industry and other sectors of the community to adopt and implement all necessary health, safety and well-being measures, to ensure the safety of both travellers and Aussies alike. Tourism is a major economic driver for Australia, and we are certain that it will continue to play an important role when we the COVID-19 crisis passes and we can resume travel once again.