What you need to know about border restrictions

by 2nd of February, 2022
What you need to know about border restrictions

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions on entry and exit from Australia. However, as vaccination rates against COVID-19 increase in Australia, border regulations are changing frequently.

Following the significant changes that were introduced on 1 November 2021, regarding who can enter and leave Australia and what quarantine arrangements will be in place, additional changes were introduced on 15 December 2021.

As a result, significantly more people will be allowed to enter Australia without a travel exemption. This article will explain the changes to Australian border policy that were introduced on 1 November 2021 and 15 December 2021.

Can I Leave Australia?

The Federal Government has made important changes that apply to all states and territories of Australia. 
 
As of 1 November 2021, fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens who normally reside in Australia will no longer have to apply for a travel exemption to leave Australia.
 
Unfortunately, Australian citizens and permanent residents who are unvaccinated must still apply for an exemption to leave the country. The Australian Border Force (ABF) will only exempt unvaccinated outbound travellers if the travel is:

  • part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing aid;
  • for your business/employer;
  • to receive urgent medical treatment unavailable in Australia;
  • because you will be outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer;
  • on compelling or compassionate grounds;
  • in the national interest; or
  • because you are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia.

 
As of 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders will no longer have to apply for an exemption to return or enter Australia. The eligible visa must be granted. If the eligible visa has been applied for but has not yet been granted then they are not an eligible visa holder.

Temporary visa holders who normally reside in Australia who are not eligible visa holders can continue to depart Australia at any time. However, they are required to apply for an exemption to return or re-enter Australia.

 

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Can I Travel to Australia?

The following categories may enter Australia and are exempt from having to request permission to enter:

  • Australian citizens;
  • permanent residents of Australia;
  • immediate family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents;
  • New Zealand citizens typically resident in Australia and their immediate family members;
  • individuals who have been in New Zealand or Australia for 14 days or more immediately before arrival by air in Australia;
  • diplomats accredited to Australia, including their immediate family members (each member of the family unit must hold a valid subclass 995 visa);
  • individuals transiting Australia for 72 hours or less;
  • airline crew members and maritime crew members, including marine pilots;
  • individuals recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme;
  • individuals who hold a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa;
  • individuals who hold a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the ‘Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Event’ stream and is supported by the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce; or
  • eligible visa holders who have been granted an eligible visa.

 
The immediate family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens who usually reside in Australia, refer to:  

  • spouses;
  • de facto partners;
  • dependent children; and
  • parents/legal guardians of dependent children.
  • As of 1 November 2021, parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand Citizens who usually reside in Australia are also eligible to travel to Australia. The definition of parents includes:
  • biological parents;
  • legal (including adoptive) parents;
  • step-parents; and
  • parents-in-law.


Immediate family members and parents must hold a valid visa, apply for and receive a travel exemption before entering Australia.

Temporary visa holders who do not hold an eligible visa are generally not permitted to enter Australia unless they are individuals in critical sectors or with critical skills, hold an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) or a Business Travel Card (ABTC). Importantly, temporary visa holders are not eligible for reduced quarantine arrangements should they be granted a travel exemption to enter Australia unless they are eligible visa holders.

You must note that while the Commonwealth border policies are changing, each state in Australia has their own quarantine and entry requirements. Therefore, check with individual state authorities before attempting to enter.

Steps for Travelling to Australia

  • Step 1 - Only fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible visa holders. Immediate family members or parents may be eligible for reduced quarantine arrangements. However, this is dependent on each state or territory of arrival.
  • Step 2 - You must hold a valid International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (Australia) or foreign vaccination certificate.
  • Step 3 - You must complete an Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your flight.
  • Step 4 - You must undertake a pre-departure PCR COVID-19 test before travelling to Australia. 
  • Step 5 - You must present your vaccination certificate and negative COVID-19 test result to airline staff when you check in for your flight at the airport.
  • Step 6 - You must conduct post arrival COVID-19 testing requirements as determined by each state.

Key Takeaways

As of 15 December 2021, eligible visa holders have been added to the list of people that can enter or re-enter Australia. The situation is rapidly evolving with new travel corridors announced with certain countries deemed an international travel safe zone. However, not everyone can enter the country, and it is important to be aware of the changing rules.

If you intend to travel soon, you should be up to date on the latest border controls and quarantine measures to ensure a smooth exit and entry to Australia. If you have any questions, LegalVision’s immigration lawyers can help. Contact them on 1800 532 904 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can temporary visa holders enter Australia?

As of 15 December 2021, temporary visa holders who hold an eligible visa are able to enter Australia without an exemption. Other temporary visa holders are generally not able to enter or re-enter Australia. 

Can parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents enter Australia?

As of 1 November 2021, fully vaccinated parents of Australian citizens are allowed to enter Australia. They must hold a valid visa and apply for an exemption before entering.


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