It is in the face of the challenge presented by the coronavirus (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Wednesday, that we (along with many other businesses) have mandated work from home protocols as a means of reducing the spread of the virus.
That said, our team continues to be contactable on all mediums and the last few years have given us a deeper awareness around mobility and how to operate as a redistributed workforce. During this period, you can rest assured that our team have access to the same software applications at the same computing powers whilst maintaining the security integrity that exists within the office.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event and we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities, and governments around the world who are on the front line working to contain this coronavirus.
We will be posting weekly updates on our social media in regards to the immigration measures taken by the various governments in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 Travel Measures
All travellers (including Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents) will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Australia.
11 March 2020: Italy
Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in Italy on or after this date, will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through Italy.
5 March 2020: Republic of Korea
Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in the Republic of Korea on or after this date, will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through the Republic of Korea.
1 March 2020: Iran
Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in Iran on or after this date, will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through Iran.
1 February 2020: Mainland China
Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in Mainland China on or after this date, will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through Mainland China.
The travel restrictions are determined by the Ministry of Health as Category 1 and apply to any foreigners who:
- have been present in, or transited through, Iran or mainland China, 14 days prior to them departing for New Zealand. Mainland China includes all of China, but not Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR, and not Taiwan.
- were a passenger or crew on board the Diamond Princess Cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, within 14 days of disembarking from the cruise ship.
The decision to deny boarding or refuse entry to New Zealand does not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family, who will still be able to come to New Zealand. Australian citizens and permanent residents are also not subject to the travel restrictions if New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.
Self-isolation for arrivals into New Zealand
If you are not subject to the travel restriction, you may travel to New Zealand. Everyone must follow Ministry of Health guidance for self-isolation. You must register with Healthline and self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in New Zealand if you have been in a Category 1 or Category 1B location.
From 23:59 Sunday 15 March 2020 Category 1B locations are all parts of the world except parts of the Pacific.
Airline crew, cargo ship crew and cruise ship crew are excluded from self-isolation requirements.
All passengers arriving in New Zealand are being assessed and screened before they are allowed to enter the country. The Ministry of Health has the power to quarantine aircraft or vessels on arrival to New Zealand if cases of Covid-19 are suspected.
Cruise ships and maritime vessels
There is a temporary ban enforced on the entry of cruise ships to New Zealand’s territorial waters effective from 23:59 Saturday 14 March 2020. This will remain in place until 30 June 2020. Cruise ships already in New Zealand’s waters prior to the ban are not included in this.
Cargo ship and marine crew are not required to self-isolate, if they have taken appropriate infection control and wear the appropriate personal protection equipment as required
USA (courtesy of our co-counsel)
Schengen travel ban
The Schengen travel ban is now in effect (as of March 14, 2020). Individuals who have been in any of the Schengen countries in the past 14 days (with certain exceptions for US citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their family members) will be banned from entering the United States. The Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Ireland and UK travel ban
The Schengen travel ban will be expanded to include Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday, March 16, 2020, at 11:59 pm EST. After said time, individuals who have been in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the past 14 days will be banned from entering the United States. The same exceptions for US citizens and lawful permanent residents will apply.
US Embassies and Consulates in India cancel visa appointments
The US Embassies and Consulates in India have cancelled all immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments, starting March 16, 2020. The State Department has indicated that once visa processing resumes, all appointments will be rescheduled.
The US Embassy and Branch in Israel cancel visa appointments
The US Embassy and Branch in Israel have cancelled all immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments, starting March 16, 2020. The State Department has indicated that once visa processing resumes, all appointments will be rescheduled.
COVID-19 testing and treatment will not be a factor in USCIS Public Charge analysis
In a statement released by USCIS, the agency has stated that “USCIS will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination, nor as related to the public benefit condition applicable to certain non-immigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status, even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule (e.g. federally funded Medicaid).”
USCIS office closure in Seattle
Due to COVID-19, the USCIS has closed one local field office in Seattle. USCIS has stated it will be rescheduling interviews and appointments once they deem the office safe from the spread of COVID-19.