Australia plans to reopen International Borders by Christmas

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Is it true for Temporary Visa Holders?

Everyone is talking about how achievable International Travel will be to resume on Christmas if all states keep to the national plan. December 18th is now the most significant day for many Australians, having Qantas planned at least six international routes for this date and five the following day. 

The idea obeys the intentions of opening up internationally with markets whose vaccination levels are similar to Australian Targets, 80%. UK, North America, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Fiji are within the released list of routes available for the aperture. However, the question that remains is, 

what would be the case for temporary visa holders that want to reunite with their families overseas? Would they be able to return safely to Australia even when the International return gap is limited for Australian Citizens?

At this stage, it is unclear if the situation would change for Temporary Visa Holders. However, according to the Department of Home Affairs, Temporary visa holders in Australia can depart Australia at any time. Still, they will generally not be permitted to return.  

What are the options to leave and return to Australia if I hold a Temporary Visa?

Temporary visa holders seeking to leave and then return to Australia may apply for an inwards exemption before leaving. Applications will only be approved if:

  1. The applicant meets the requirements for an individual exemption from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions, 
  2. The applicant has a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia, including 
    • 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.

*Evidence should be provided at all times.

Applications for Travel Exemption must be lodge at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel.

Applications must include:

  • traveller details: name, date of birth, visa type and number, passport number
  • proposed residential address and phone number in Australia
  • your reasons for coming: why you should be granted an exemption
  • a supporting statement: setting out how you meet one of the grounds for an exemption
  • accompanying evidence.


Please note - If you are not granted an exemption, you should not continue with your travel plans, as you will not be permitted to board a flight to Australia. If you are granted a travel exemption, you need to take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport.

How do I know if I am entitled to an automatic travel exemption?

You can only leave and enter Australia without obtaining an individual exemption if you are, 

  • an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia
  • an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident, including defacto relationships. However, marriage certificate, evidence of your de-facto relationship, shared finances or property, birth certificate for your children, among others, documents should be presented as part of the evidence at the airport. 
  • a New Zealand citizen usually resident 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, a maritime crew including marine pilots
  • a person recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
  • a person who holds a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa
  • A person who holds a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the ‘Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Event’ stream and who is supported by the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce.

What are the Individual exemptions from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions?

Individual exemptions are granted if you are, 

  • a foreign national travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state/territory government authority to assist 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 authority
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • a foreign national with critical skills 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 student who has been selected to take part in an International Student Arrivals Plan. 
  • A student in the final three years of study of a medical university degree, where they have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. Placements must commence within the next two months of the arrival. 
  • A student in the final two years of study of a dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where they have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which begins within the next two months.
  • A higher degree research student enrolled in an Australian education institution (including Masters by research and PhD students) with evidence of a current research grant from a Commonwealth agency or support from a relevant government agency outlining why the research is considered essential and/or in Australia’s national interest and how their role is critical to the research.
  • Travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.
  • a Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa holder whose visa has been granted and the application lodged before 18 August 2020.

All information provided via The Australian Department of Home Affairs. For more information, please check the latest updates on COVID-19 and border travel restrictions and exemptions here 

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