Reading time: 3 minutes

On 20 March 2020, the Australian government implemented a travel ban to prevent all non-residents and non-citizens from entering the country. This can pose issues for those on employee visas. Currently, no one can enter the country unless they are:

  • an Australian citizen;
  • an Australian permanent resident; 
  • a New Zealand citizen usually residing in Australia; 
  • immediate family members (this includes spouse, de facto partner, dependent children and legal guardians) of Australian citizens or permanent residents;
  • transiting; or
  • exempt, as determined by the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF). 

Australian businesses/employers wanting to sponsor foreign workers (who are offshore) on visa subclasses 482, 407 and/or invite them on a subclass 400 or 408, will need to re-think their options while the travel ban is in place. 

Additional Exemptions

However, some foreign workers may be exempt from the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The ABF is considering additional exemptions for:

  • foreign nationals travelling to assist in the COVID-19 response; 
  • critical medical services;
  • people with critical skills;
  • diplomats; and
  • on a case-by-case basis, for those carrying out humanitarian relief.


The employer or foreign worker will need to apply for an exemption and it must be granted prior to entering Australia. 

Temporary Offshore Workers

Sponsored or foreign workers who are:

  • currently offshore; and 
  • cannot re-enter before their visa expires;

will need to apply for new employee visas to allow them to enter the country when the travel ban is lifted. If your sponsored/foreign worker was a temporary visa holder when they left Australia and has since been granted permanent residency, they should contact the office that granted their visa, but only when they are in a position to travel to Australia again.

Applicants for temporary and permanent visas will receive additional time to obtain:

  • health assessments;
  • police clearance
  • English language testing; and
  • to provide additional requested information.

Applicants granted a new visa which requires them to be in Australia at the time of application or grant, and are unable to return, will need to apply for a new visa once the travel restrictions are lifted.

Bridging Visa Holders

If you have employees that hold bridging visas, they will be affected by the travel ban if they are offshore. This could include people on a Bridging Visa A (BVA) who have subsequently been granted a Bridging Visa B (BVB), allowing them to travel.

There is no ability to extend a BVB travel period after the bridging visa has been granted. If the bridging visa expires while they are outside Australia, then they will need to apply for a new visa. Bridging visas cannot be granted if the employee is outside Australia. 

Key Takeaways

There are wide range of implications for your sponsored and foreign workforce in and outside of Australia as a result of the COVID-19 travel ban. These include:

  • sponsoring or inviting foreign workers that are currently offshore;
  • temporary visa holders that are outside of Australia when the travel ban commenced;
  • exemptions to the travel ban; and
  • bridging visa holders that are soon to expire.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Hub For Business for information on how to manage the impact of COVID-19 on your business. If you have any questions about the impact of travel bans on employees with visas, our experienced immigration lawyers can assist with a strategy. Fill out the form on this page or call us on 1300 544 755. Y


Legal 101 for SaaS Companies

Thursday 22 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Understand the contracts you need for your SaaS business with our free SaaS legal essentials webinar.
Register Now

Construction Contract Essentials

Thursday 12 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Understand how construction contracts are drafted and how to protect your construction business.
Register Now

Startup 101: Understanding Cap Tables and ESOPs

Thursday 19 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Cap tables and employee share option plans are essential for fast-growing startups. Learn more with this free webinar.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. From just $119 per week, get all your contracts sorted, trade marks registered and questions answered by experienced business lawyers.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation – Finalist – Australasian Law Awards 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice – Winner – Australasian Lawyer 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer