Australia’s International Travel Ban and Exemptions for Eligible Applicants
Are you looking to relocate your family back home to Australia? Are you expecting to move overseas for a new job or to expand your business? Are you needing to visit unwell loved ones from your home country but are unsure of your travel abilities? With the ever-evolving nature of the current COVID-19 pandemic, current travel restrictions can be difficult to navigate.
Since 18 March 2020, Australian borders have been closed with entry to Australia continuing to be controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The current ban has been extended until the 17th of December 2021 with individuals aiming to travel to or from Australia, only able to do so if granted an exemption.
This article aims to provide you with the necessary information to understand Australia’s travel ban and exemptions for eligible applicants.
Travel Exemptions for Leaving Australia
Navigating the current restrictions on leaving Australia can be overwhelming. This section aims to aid readers with the necessary information regarding individual scenarios in relation to the current Australian travel bans.
Read on to explore the current exemptions in place and how they affect the following:
What are the Exemptions for Overseas Travel from Australia?
Understanding the current exemptions that are in place relating to overseas travel from Australia, will help in how best to compile your individual exemption application. For those needing to travel outside of Australia whilst the travel ban is in effect, you will be required to satisfy one of the below criteria in order to submit an exemption.
- A compassionate or compelling reason.
- Your travel is in the national interest.
- Urgent and/or unavoidable personal business.
- Receiving urgent medical treatment that is not available within Australia.
- Part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid.
- Your travel is for your business or employer.
- You are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia.
- You have a compelling reason AND are leaving Australia for 3 months or longer.
Temporary Visa Holder’s
Temporary Visa Holder’s include visitor visas, studying and training visas, family and partner visas, working and skilled visas, refugee and humanitarian visas, and repealed visas. If you’re unsure of what your visa is, head to the Home Affairs website here.
Australian temporary visa holders do not require a travel exemption to leave Australia and return to their country of origin. However, they will be required to comply with any border restrictions currently in place in their home country.
As the COVID-19 situation continues to change, individuals are encouraged to continually check the change of border restrictions of both Australia and their home country and the availability of flights.
NOTE: Whist exemptions for Temporary Visa Holder’s in Australia are not required, return to Australia will generally not be permitted. For more on this, skip to Travel Exemptions for Temporary Visa Holders to Enter Australia.
Australian Permanent Residents and Citizens
Current Australian permanent residents and citizens can only leave Australia if they are successful in their application for an exemption [see above for exemption options] from the current COVID-19 travel ban. These individuals must meet at least ONE of the aforementioned criteria and be able to show supporting documentation to support your claim. Evidence may include;
- Marriage certificate/s
- Birth certificate/s
- Death certificate/s
- Proof of relationship
- Proof that you are moving to another country on a long-term basis
- Proof of your current valid overseas visa
- Letter from a medical professional about required medical treatment or medical condition stating why travel is necessary
- Letter from your employer that states why you are travelling for a business reason
- Statement or evidence to show when you wish to return to Australia
- Any other evidence you may have to support your claims
Australian Dual Citizens
Australian Dual Citizens refer to individuals who are citizens of two or more countries. Dual citizens can be either
- An Australian citizen who has been granted citizenship of another country and did not lose their Australian citizenship, or
- A citizen of another country who has become an Australian citizen.
Dual Citizens in Australia are having increasing difficulty understanding their rights when it comes to navigating the current travel exemptions. However, Dual Citizens are being granted the same outbound exemption options as stated for those that are Australian permanent residents and citizens.
Exemption to Leave Australia for More Than 3 Months
For Australian permanent residents or citizens seeking exemptions to leave Australia for three months or longer, your travel must be for a compelling reason, and you must provide evidence to support your claim. If applying for this particular travel exemption, you will be required to provide evidence in the form of a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration.
Evidence that may be accepted include;
- Confirmed flight itinerary with return date scheduled for three months or more from the departure date.
- Confirmation of leave from employment for three months or more.
- Enrolment confirmation for study.
- A medical certificate supporting claim travel is required to provide care for unwell family members.
- Any other evidence you may have to support your claim.
Travel Exemptions to Enter Australia
Are you an Australian permanent resident or citizen currently residing overseas wanting to return to Australia? Wanting to be with family here in Australia? Or maybe even relocating to Australia to work and live?
For individuals looking to explore their options on how to enter Australia during the current COVID-19 pandemic, we will outline below the ways in which you may be capable of applying for exemptions depending on your individual situation.
Do Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents Require an Exemption to Enter Australia?
If you are an Australian Permanent Resident or Citizen, you are automatically exempt from the travel restrictions and can enter Australia without having to apply for an individual exemption.
Whilst you may be automatically exempt, all individuals entering Australia, including Australian permanent residents and citizens are required to quarantine for 14-days at a designated facility in the city of their arrival.
Travel Exemptions for Temporary Visa Holder’s to Enter Australia
Australian temporary visa holders wanting to return to Australia may apply for an inbound exemption prior to leaving Australia, however, individual applications will generally only be approved if they meet one of the following criteria;
- The applicant meets the requirements for an individual exemption from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions, and
- The applicant has a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia supported by relevant evidence, including;
- Attending the funeral of a close family member
- Visiting a family member who is critically ill
- Seeking necessary medical treatment unavailable in Australia
- Essential travel for business purposes
Grounds for Travel Exemption When Entering Australia
Individuals will require an approved exemption to enter Australia unless they are;
- An Australian permanent resident or citizen.
- An immediate family member of an Australian permanent resident or citizen.
- A New Zealand citizen usually residing in Australia.
- An individual who has been in New Zealand for 14 days or more immediately prior to arrival by air in Australia.
- An individual transiting Australia for 72 hours or less.
- Airline crew and maritime crew including marine pilots.
- An individual recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme.
- An individual who holds a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa.
If you’re unsure whether you meet any of the above criteria, you can contact us via our Contact Us page here or call (02) 9415 2359 for assistance.
How to Apply for an Australian Travel Exemption
If you are amongst those required to apply for an Australian Travel Exemption, whether that be for inbound or outbound travel, you must do so through the Travel Exemption Portal. Individuals are encouraged to follow the below steps to apply for an Australian travel exemption.
- Understand if you are amongst those capable of applying for an exemption or if you are automatically exempt.
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- Create an account through the Travel Exemption Portal
- You will be asked to verify your account
- Submit your application
- Track your progress
Exemption requests can be submitted online at least two weeks, but not more than three months prior to travel. However, in the case of an emergency (e.g. death of a family member), your application may be prioritised.
What Happens if Your Exemption Application is Rejected?
If you are faced with rejection from your exemption application, do not fear. The Australian government are refusing many exemption applications. Why? Whilst the application is a simple process, individuals are being rejected as their applications are not strong enough.
If your initial application is rejected you are free to apply again. There is no fee and no “black mark” for receiving a refusal. However, if you have had a submission for exemption rejected we recommend reaching out to our team to ensure your next application meets all the requirements for approval.
A strong exemption application requires information to be presented cohesively. Working with immigration law professionals will see you put your strongest exemption application forward. Individuals will receive educated and informed guidance followed by a thought-out plan of action and effective compiling and presenting of evidence when accessing professional services.
Expert Assistance with Travel Ban Exemption Applications
If you’re looking to source expert assistance with your exemption application, the highly experienced team of immigration lawyers and migration agents here at Worldwide Migration Partners, who specialise in Australian immigration are here to help.
Our main priority is to achieve the best possible outcome for individuals and understand how overwhelming the exemption application process can be, so we aim to remove the stress and worry surrounding your application.
Since 18 March 2020, when Australia’s borders were closed, our team here at Worldwide Migration Partners have been regularly working on exemption applications with a phenomenal success rate If you’re seeking professional guidance on how you can leave Australia or come to Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be with you every step of the way to getting you to your destination as soon as possible.
Amidst these unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to ensure families and loved ones can be kept together. So, get in touch with us here at Worldwide Migration Partners for all issues concerning migration, visa advice, and support during COVID-19.
About The Author
Melissa Vincenty is a US attorney, an Australian migration agent and the founder and managing director of Worldwide Migration Partners. Melissa has over 20 years of experience in migration law, including practising at the world’s largest US immigration firm and more than 15 years as a Country Specialist (China and Tibet) for Amnesty International USA.