Australia travel ban update – June 2021

GUEST POST BY AMANDA TINNER, VISA EXECUTIVE

The situation with Australia’s border closure is complex and constantly changing, with travel bans in place. View who can currently enter and depart Australia below.

Entering Australia

Visa processing

A person cannot come to Australia unless:

  • in an exempt category – see categories below
  • granted an individual exemption to the current travel restrictions; or
  • travelling within the Safe Travel Zone such as New Zealand under quarantine-free travel arrangements.

Restrictions on temporary visa holders entering Australia.

A person may be granted an individual exemption if they are:

  • a foreign national 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
  • a foreign national whose entry into Australia would be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • a foreign national with critical skills (see below) or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • a foreign national sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
  • a person who resides on a vessel that seeks safe port at the closest appointed port for reprovisioning or safety reasons for a limited duration, supported by the relevant State or Territory government where safe haven is sought
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with endorsement from the federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) and; support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department
  • a student in your final two years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which begins within the next two months; or
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

What is a critical skill ?

A critical skill is deemed to be one of the below areas:

  • 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, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
  • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
  • providing critical skills in religious or theology fields
  • sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). Use this link to see the updated list of occupations; or
  • whose entry would otherwise be in Australia’s national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.

What does this mean for your business/family?

All foreign nationals travelling to Australia must have a valid visa and travel exemption. The decision to approve a travel exemption can be seen as subjective.  If the applicant does not meet any of the exemptions detailed above, it is unlikely that they will be granted travel exemption and therefore will not be permitted to enter Australia.

Exempt categories

A person is automatically exempt from the travel restrictions and can enter Australia (without obtaining an individual exemption) if they are:

  • an Australian citizen
  • a permanent resident of Australia
  • an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members
  • a person who has been in New Zealand or Australia for 14 days or more immediately prior to arrival by air in Australia
  • a diplomat accredited to Australia, including their immediate family members (each member of the family unit must hold a valid subclass 995 visa)
  • a person transiting Australia for 72 hours or less
  • airline crew, maritime crew including marine pilots
  • a person recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme; or
  • a person who holds a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa.

Exemption requests for travel from India to Australia

Expert health advice currently considers India a high-risk COVID-19 country. Immigration will not approve discretionary inwards travel exemptions for anyone who is currently located in India.

Departing Australia

Travel to India from Australia

Travel exemptions for any travel from Australia to India will be limited to very urgent circumstances only.

Individuals seeking an ‘exceptional circumstances’ exemption to travel from Australia to India will only be approved for the following very limited circumstances:

  • critical workers providing assistance to the country of destination’s COVID-19 response;
  • people undertaking travel in Australia’s national interest; or
  • people seeking urgent medical treatment for a critical illness that is unable to be treated in Australia.

Temporary visa holders leaving Australia for a short trip overseas

As of 20 May 2021, temporary visa holders in Australia can depart Australia at any time, however, they will generally not be permitted to return to Australia.

Temporary visa holders seeking to leave and then return to Australia, may apply for an inwards exemption before they leave, however applications will generally only be approved if the applicant meets the requirements for an individual exemption from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions, and they have a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia supported by relevant documentary evidence, for example:

  • attending the funeral of a close family member overseas, visiting a close family member who is seriously or critically ill, or seeking necessary medical treatment not available in Australia, or
    travel is essential for business purposes

Travel for three months or longer

If an applicant is seeking exemption from Australia’s outbound travel restrictions on the basis that they are leaving Australia for three months or longer, the proposed travel must be for a compelling reason and the applicant must provide evidence to support claims.

This evidence must be provided in the form of a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration.

Automatic exemptions

A visa applicant is exempt from travel restrictions, and can leave Australia without applying for an exemption if they are:

  • ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • an airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker
  • a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, even if they are usually resident in Australia
  • engaged in the day-to-day conduct of inbound and outbound freight
  • travelling in association with essential work at an offshore facility in Australian waters
  • travelling on official government business (including members of the Australian Defence Force and any Australian Government official travelling on a diplomatic or official passport)
  • travelling directly to New Zealand and you have been in Australia or New Zealand for 14 days or more immediately before your travel date.

Restrictions on Australian citizens and permanent residents departing Australia.

Australian citizens and permanent residents living in Australia cannot currently travel overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions unless they obtain an exemption to depart.

If an Australian must depart, they can apply online to apply online for an exemption to travel if they fall under one of the following categories:

  • travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • travel is for business/employer
  • travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • compassionate or compelling grounds
  • travel is in the national interest
  • travelling outside Australia for three months or longer.

The person should apply for an exemption as early as possible —at least 48 hours before the intended departure time. If granted an exemption, they must take evidence of that exemption to the airport.

For any queries regarding the migration program updates, please contact Amanda Tinner, Principal, Visa Executive.

This article was originally published on www.visaexecutive.com.

By |2021-06-11T11:01:58+10:00June 11th, 2021|Australian immigration, Immigration, Students|0 Comments

About the Author:

Amanda Tinner
Amanda Tinner, Visa Executive Pty Ltd, Fellow of the MIA, MARN 0325139

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