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Australian Immigration Law Updates: Do You Have a Need to Travel to or From Australia?

by | Sep 21, 2020 | Migration

[This blog is an updated version as at 21 September 2020 of our original post on 30 August 2020, as amendments were made by the Australian government since the blog was first published.]

Do you have a need to travel from or to Australia? Here is an update on the current travel restrictions.

Travelling From Australia

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you are still prohibited to travel outside of Australia unless you are exempt or have applied for an exemption and received approval. The restriction is in place until 17 December 2020 but may still be extended.

As we have previously posted in our blog in July, in these circumstances you need to apply for a request to travel:

  • your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • your travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)
  • you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • you are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
  • you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
  • your travel is in the national interest.

Processing of the requests are quicker than a few months ago but may still take two weeks or more. Detailed evidence is required or you may receive a refusal citing ‘insufficient evidence’ after a couple of weeks, further delaying your travel plans.

If you are a temporary visa holder in Australia, you may leave Australia any time provided that there are flights and your destination country allows you to enter. You should note that you will not be allowed to return to Australia while travel restrictions remain in place unless you are exempt (details below).

Travelling into Australia

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you are automatically exempt from the travel ban and can enter Australia.

If you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you must have a valid visa to enter Australia, no matter whether you are exempted from the travel restrictions or not.

You are exempted from the travel restrictions if you are:

  • an immediate family member (spouse*, de facto partner*, dependent children, legal guardian) of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members
  • a diplomat accredited to Australia (holding a subclass 995 visa)
  • a traveller transiting Australia for 72 hours or less
  • airline crew
  • maritime crew including marine pilots
  • recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
  • a holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) Visa

*As a spouse/de facto partner of an Australian citizen/permanent resident, if you do not already hold a Partner Visa, you still need to provide detailed evidence of your relationship and await the Department’s approval before you travel to Australia.

Temporary Visa Holders that do not fit under any of the above exempt categories could only come to Australia on the following grounds:

  • 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
  • having critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on a Skilled Occupation List for Priority Migration (PMSOL) – occupations on this list include most health-related occupations, a company’s chief executive/managing director, construction project manager, mechanical engineer, software engineer, etc.
  • entry would be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • 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 completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State/Territory government
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons

Again, requests to travel may take at least two weeks to process and require detailed evidence including a supporting statement. You will not be permitted to board a flight to Australia before the Australian government grants you an approval to travel.

If you have a need to come into Australia due to any of the above grounds, but do not have a valid Australian visa as yet, please contact us to explore your visa options and/or assistance to demonstrate you qualify for the exemption(s).

Contact Nevett Ford Lawyers today if you require any Australian immigration assistance
📞: +61 3 9614 7111
🌎: www.nevettford.com.au  
📨: melbourne@nevettford.com.au (Although our office is based in Melbourne, immigration is under the federal legislative framework and we can assist applicants based in or interested in any part of Australia.)