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COVID19: Stay Informed

19 November 2020

Stay informed: COVID19

**Last updated 11.00am EDT Wednesday 18 November 2020 - Please monitor this page and our social media channels for updates (Facebook, Twitter)**

We know this is a stressful time for many Australians overseas who are trying to get home. Caps on international passenger arrivals into Australia make it harder for Australians to get home—but these restrictions and quarantine measures are necessary to protect our friends and family members at home at this critical point. Our embassy and consulates are doing all that we can to provide essential support to Australians in the United States, and will provide any updates, as soon as we have them.

For urgent consular assistance contact:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas 
  • 1300 555 135 from within Australia

For non-urgent enquiries, email smartraveller@dfat.gov.au.

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Information for Australians (per Smartraveller)

**Last updated 9.00pm EDT Monday 16 November**

International Flight Arrivals: Quarantine and payment arrangements in Australia

From 11:59pm AEDT 28 March, all travellers arriving in to Australia from overseas will go into monitored quarantine in hotels or other designated facilities for 14 days, before they can go home. Quarantine will be at your city of arrival into Australia. Refer to your local state government for the latest responses to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also check restrictions in all states and territories using the COVID-19 Restriction Checker.
Restrictions in place until: Further notice.

If you’re due to arrive back in Australia soon, you may have to contribute to the cost of quarantine. Individual states and territories have started to introduce their own quarantine arrangements and costs. Some have an exemption period, where if you purchased your ticket before a certain date you will not be charged for quarantine. Most states are offering payment plans, fee reductions and/or fee waivers for those experiencing financial hardship.

Check with your airline to see if your flight is affected, and check with your local state and territory for the latest quarantine costs and arrangements:

Hardship Program

The Australian Government will provide additional support to the most vulnerable Australian citizens whose return to Australia has been impacted by the restrictions arising from COVID-19. The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Marise Payne, set out the key elements of this support in her Media Release dated 2 September 2020.

In summary, if you’ve been unable to return to Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions and you are experiencing financial distress, you may be eligible for a one-off emergency loan to support your living costs while you wait for a flight to Australia and/or to help cover the cost of the flight. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra is administering the Hardship Program with emergency assistance. These emergency loans are only available as a last-resort. Applicants will have to meet strict eligibility criteria and must be intending to return to Australia as soon as a flight is available. Further information on the loans, eligibility and the application process can be found on Smartraveller's Overseas Finance Assistance page.

Two types of loans are available:

  • emergency repatriation loans to help cover the costs of return flights to Australia, where available
  • emergency living costs loans for Australians who are unable to return as quickly as they would like.

This support is intended to assist the most vulnerable Australian citizens overseas, who are in financial distress due to COVID-19, to

  • purchase return flights to Australia where this is possible, including where prices have increased
  • shelter in place, including to cover the cost of safe, temporary accommodation
  • and ensure access to medication and other essentials.

Australians encountering difficulty returning home can also register their presence with DFAT via covid19.dfat.gov.au. Please note that registering with DFAT does not mean that you will automatically be considered for financial assistance. We encourage those seeking to return to Australia to remain in regular contact with their airlines or travel agents to confirm their arrangements.

Government Payments or Other Support

If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident returning from overseas, you may be eligible for government payments and other support. Usually a person must be in Australia when they claim. However, your claim may be accepted while you’re overseas if you’ll be eligible when you return to Australia. For more information download the Services Australia brochure for Australians returning from overseas.

    Flight caps (Effective from 16 November 2020)

    **Last updated 9.00pm EDT Monday 16 November**

    National Cabinet met on 13 November 2020 and agreed to continue to prioritise the return of Australians.

    National Cabinet agreed a range of measures to support efforts to maximise the use of available seats to further boost the number of Australians who can return before Christmas. Going forward, caps and other arrangements will be implemented on a weekly basis and, in consultation with the relevant jurisdiction, an overallocation by up to 10 per cent above caps will be allowed. 

    The Commonwealth will continue to work with states and territories to facilitate the arrival of additional facilitated flights, carrying registered Australians and prioritising vulnerable Australians.

    Passengers with upcoming flights to Australia are advised to contact their airline or travel agent in the first instance for information on any changes to their flight.

    Jurisdiction

    Arrangements

    Australian Capital Territory

    360 passengers over two flights before Christmas

    New South Wales

    a weekly cap of 3,000 passengers into Sydney

    Northern Territory

    finalising arrangements with the Commonwealth to increase capacity at Howard Springs Quarantine Facility from the current 500 per fortnight

    South Australia

    a weekly cap of 600 passengers into Adelaide. On 16 November 2020, all international flights to Adelaide were suspended until the end of the week.

    Queensland

    a weekly cap of 1,000 passengers into Brisbane, and increased surge efforts to 300 vulnerable Australians per week

    Tasmania

    450 Australians over three flights before Christmas

    Western Australia

    a weekly cap of 1,025 passengers into Perth

    Restrictions on outbound travel by Australian citizens and permanent residents remain in place, in accordance with the health advice to the Government.

    Read more about the changes via Smartraveller. Read the Prime Minister's Media Statements:

    Available flights from the US to Australia

    **Last updated 11.00am EDT Wednesday 18 November 2020**

    Regular commercial flights are operating, but short-term availability remains limited. You may need to book well in advance to secure a seat(s) and be flexible with your dates, connections, airlines and destination in Australia.

    As the situation is continuing to change at short notice, we encourage you to contact your airline or travel agent to confirm your travel plans, reservations and requirements.

    There are no plans for government-facilitated flights from the United States, as regular commercial options are still available. We recognise that caps on international passenger arrivals into Australia are making it increasingly harder for Australians to get home. Any updates on these restrictions will be posted as soon as we have them, here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages (@ausintheus).

    Several major carriers continue to operate direct flights to Australia from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). These include:

    UNITED AIRLINES (SFO-SYD and LAX-SYD)
    Book via united.com

    DELTA (LAX-SYD)
    Book via delta.com

    AMERICAN AIRLINES (LAX-SYD)
    Book via aa.com

    Airlines operating indirect flights include:

    AIR NEW ZEALAND (via Auckland)
    Book via airnewzealand.com

    ETIHAD (via Abu Dhabi)
    Book via etihad.com

    EMIRATES (via Dubai)
    Book via emirates.com

    QATAR (via Doha)
    Book via qatarairways.com

    Other flight options are available through various airlines. If none of the above meet your needs, we recommend a flight search to find the option that works best for you. You may need to be flexible with dates, connections, airlines and destination in Australia.  

    If you need emergency consular assistance, you can call our 24/7 Consular Emergency Centre + 61 2 6261 3305. For non-urgent enquiries, email smartraveller@dfat.gov.au.

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    Australian State and Territory Border Closures

    Some states and territories in Australia have closed their borders to non-essential travel due to COVID-19. Each state or territory has their own entry requirements. The most up-to-date information about entry conditions, forms and requirements is on the government website of the state and territory you are travelling to. You can also check restrictions in all states and territories using the COVID-19 Restriction Checker.

    Australian Capital Territory

    ACT Government

    New South Wales

    Department of Primary Industries

    Northern Territory

    Northern Territory Government

    Queensland

    Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

    South Australia

    Government of South Australia

    Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

    Tasmania

    Tasmania Government

    Victoria

    Victoria Government

    Western Australia

    Western Australia Government

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    COVID-19 - Ban on Departure from Australia

    The Australian Government advises all Australians do not travel overseas at this time. This is the highest advice level (level 4 of 4). On 24 March the Prime Minister announced a ban on all overseas travel, with few exceptions. The ban will help prevent travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus.

    Some exemptions will apply including for:

    • people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
    • ​​​airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers
    • New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa are not permanent residents for the purposes of the Biosecurity Determination and are permitted to depart Australia. New Zealand citizens who are permanent visa holders may apply for a Commissioner’s discretion
    • ​people engaged in the day to day conduct of outbound and inbound freight
    • people whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities and
    • people travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force

    For more details or to apply for an exemption visit: the Department of Home Affairs.
    For more information go to Smartraveller's COVID-19 Travel Ban page.

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    Australian Government Information

    The Australian Government is providing important information and resources for all Australians. Various departments are responsible for specific elements of the whole-of-government repsonse to COIVD-19. The Government is supported by the National Cabinet comprising the prime minister and all state and territory premiers and chief ministers.

    The Australian Government COVID portal: one-stop-shop on how the Government is responding to COVID-19​.
    Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller: smartraveller travel alerts and consular contact details. ​​​​​​
    Department of Home Affairs: border closures, immigration and cyber security.
    Department of Health: resources to help you flatten the curve. ​​​​​​
    Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade): information for Australian exporters. ​​​​​​
    Treasury: economic overview of the response. ​​​​​​
    Services Australia (Centrelink): financial support for individuals. ​​​​​​
    Business Australia: assistance for Australian businesses.

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    Information for Australian Pet Owners

    **Last updated 9.00pm EDT Thursday 1 October 2020**

    The current COVID-19 pandemic does not change the existing risks posed by diseases of biosecurity concern to Australia or the need for cats and dogs to meet the import permit conditions in full. These import conditions protect Australia against exotic diseases. To ensure animal welfare and manage the significant biosecurity risks posed by international transport of animals, all animals destined for the quarantine facility at Mickleham must arrive directly into Melbourne Airport. Animals cannot be transhipped to Melbourne on a domestic flight from another Australian port.  

    The quarantine facility at Mickleham is fully operational and is continuing to take booking requests. Pet importers and agents are advised to make flight arrangements and reservations at the quarantine facility promptly after their import permit is approved.

    This information is subject to change.

    For the latest guidance on pet imports, including updates on transhipment to PEQ via Sydney, please see: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs.
     

    For Post Entry Quarantine facility (PEQ) Mickleham Christmas closure dates and Frequently Asked Questions, please see: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/industry-advice/2020/145-2020.

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    Embassy and Consulate visitors

    The Australian Embassy and Consulates-General are taking precautions to protect visitors and staff during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily such as tables, light switches, countertops, door handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

    Please note, in the public facing areas of our Embassy, only passport, consular and notarial services remain open.  Our gallery is temporarily closed, until further notice.

    All members of the public who enter our Embassy and Consulates-General must wear a face covering during the time of their visit.

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    Passport and consular clients

    The Australian Embassy and Consulates-General remain open to provide essential passport and consular services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Some offices are accepting appointments to receive passport applications in person. Appointment availability varies by location.  In addition, local health requirements prevent clients in some states from attending certain offices until a mandatory quarantine and/or testing has been completed. Please visit our Where To Apply pagefor details on where you can make an appointment.  If the office that services your state is not taking appointments or you are under a stay at home order in your state, it may be possible to apply for a temporary passport by mail if you have confirmed international travel in the next 2 months.  

    Please see further guidance on applying for a passport during COVID-19. 

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    Information for travellers to Australia

    **Last updated 1.00pm EDT Monday 27 July 2020**

    From Friday 20 March 9pm AEDT (6.00am EDT) Australia will NOT allow the entry of people who are not citizens, permanent residents or their families. Immediate family members who are not permanent residents must apply for an exemption if they wish to travel to Australia during this period. Detailed information about the exemptions is available on the Home Affairs website.

    web form is available for family members to apply for an exemption. Proof of the family relationship should be provided as part of this request. Non-family members may also use the form to apply for an exemption if they have a compelling or compassionate reason for travel.

    What does this mean? If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you and your immediate family will be able to return to Australia. You’ll still be required to quarantine for 14 days. If you’re a foreign national visiting Australia, you’ll still be allowed to depart Australia.

    For additional Australian visa information in relation to COVID-19 please refer to our Visas and Migration page.

    Travel exemption requirements for individuals in critical sectors or with critical skills **new section**

    The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant an individual exemption if you are a non-citizen:

    • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
    • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
    • with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, agricultural technology, food production, and the maritime industry)
    • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
    • whose entry would otherwise be in Australia's national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.

    An individual can submit a request for a travel exemption under this category or a business can submit a request on their behalf. The applications of multiple travellers within the same group/business can be linked, so that the requests are considered together.

    Please request an exemption using the form below and provide appropriate evidence to support the claims. All documents need to be officially translated into English.

    An exemption should generally be applied for at least 4 weeks, but not more than 3 months, before planned travel. Urgent business travel will be considered inside this timeframe.

    More information is on the Department of Home Affairs Critical Skills and Sectors page.

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    US Visas

    **Last updated 9:45am EDT Tuesday, 23 June 2020**

    All enquiries about US visas and your status in country should be directed to the relevant US authorities. If you are in Australia, please contact the US Embassy in Canberra, or one of the US Consulates in SydneyPerth or Melbourne. If you are already in the United States, please contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on +1 800 375 5283, or the Department of State’s Visa Services on +1 202 485 7600.

    The Presidential Proclamation announced on 22 June 2020 does not affect E3 visas. This proclamation effects the issuance of new visa’s in certain categories, including; H-1B, H-2B, J, and L. For more information on the Proclamation please see: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/

    For Australians in the US looking to apply online, extend or change their non-immigrant status (including E3 visa holders) please visit this link: https://www.uscis.gov/i539online

    If you can’t contact USCIS and are delayed beyond your departure date (e.g. due to airline cancellations or you are unable to apply to USCIS to extend your stay because USCIS offices are closed) you should keep documentation in order to present to US authorities in future should the need arise, and seek the advice of a migration lawyer.

    If you are in possession of a current E3 visa that is due to expire you may apply for a 240 day extension. More information is available here https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-covid-19 - under tab "Extension of Stay/Change of Status".

    We would also encourage you to consult your employer or sponsor and speak with an immigration attorney to see what options may be available to you.

    US Department of State: suspension of routine visa services: In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates have canceled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. More information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html

    ESTAs

    **This section last updated 5.15pm EDT Friday 17 April 2020**

    ESTA travelers affected by COVID-19 restrictions may now apply for an extended term of admission. Please see this announcement for further information. If you are travelling in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and are concerned about your status in country, contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on +1 800 375 5283. You can also speak with an immigration attorney to see what options may be available to you

    STUDENT VISAS

    **This section last updated 5.15pm EDT Wednesday 8 July 2020**

    The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications on 6 July to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the Fall 2020 semester. For more information see SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

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    US Operating Status and Self Isolation Requirements per State

    **Last updated 12.00pm EDT Tuesday 7 July 2020**

    Operating status updates for each state, including schools, restaurants, emergency services and transport are available on the state's local website. We recommend you closely monitor and register for alerts from these local authorities in your state. For your convenience we have compiled a list of all state local information on our Local Conditions: COVID-19 page.

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