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Update on Australia Travel Ban

Opposite to Europe’s summer holiday, Australia has entered full Winter hibernation with about 60% of the population stuck at home because of the ongoing lockdown.

Travel waivers had seen some changes to its process. There has been update son border closure as well. Visa Executive, our Melbourne immigration member, is hoping that 2022 will bring an easing of our border restrictions and the ability to welcome expats back to Australia once again.

Immigration in Australia is seeing some challenges as the county is preventing its citizens and permanent residents from leaving the country except in “exceptional circumstances” where they can demonstrate a “compelling reason.”

Here are the things you should consider when entering and leaving the borders of Australia.

Entering Australia

Visa processing

A person cannot come to Australia unless:

  • in an exempt category * – see definition below
  • granted an individual exemption* to the current travel restrictions (see details below) or
  • travelling within the Safe Travel Zonesuch 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:

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force and decision makers may grant you an individual exemption if you 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 skillsor 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
  • students who have been selected to take part in an International Student Arrivals Plan that has been approved by the relevant state or territory government, and endorsed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment as satisfying the Protocols and Preconditions for International Student Arrivals.
  • students who are in their final three years of study of a medical university degree, who have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. The placement must commence within the next two months, and provide medical services to the Australian public.
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with endorsement from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), and support from the relevant state or territory government health and education authorities. Further information regarding this process can be found at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
  • a student in your final two years of study of a 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.
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

What is a critical skill ?

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

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant an individual exemption if you are a non-citizen:

  • 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)
  • 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

You are automatically exempt from the travel restrictions and can enter Australia (without obtaining an individual exemption) if you are:

Exemption requests for travel from India to Australia

Based on current health advice, travel restrictions for travel from India to Australia have returned to global settings which means that foreign nationals currently residing in India can again apply for a travel waiver to enter Australia is they meet one of the above categories.


Departing Australia

Temporary visa holders leaving Australia for a short trip overseas

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 MUST apply for an inwards exemption before they leave.  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 Australiasupported 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 you are seeking exemption from Australia’s outbound travel restrictions on the basis that you are leaving Australia for three months or longer, your proposed travel must be for a compelling reason and you must provide evidence to support your claims.

Evidence to support your application

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

Automatic exemptions

You are exempt from travel restrictions, and can leave Australia without applying for an exemption if you are:

  • 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.

If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you CANNOT leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions UNLESS you have an exemption. You can apply online but you must meet at least one of the following:

  • your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • your travel is for your business/employer
  • you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • you are travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer
  • you are travelling on compelling or compassionate grounds
  • your travel is in the national interest
  • you are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia.

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.

Ordinarily resident outside Australia

On 1 August 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care amended the Biosecurity Determination 2020. From 11 August 2021 Australian citizens and permanent residents ordinarily resident in a country outside Australia will not be automatically exempt from Australia’s outward travel restrictions. From this date, you must apply for a travel exemption through the Travel Exemption Portal.

Supporting evidence must be provided and may include:

  • foreign government issued documentation, for example
    • foreign drivers licence
    • foreign government issued residency card
  • evidence you have an established and settled home overseas, for example
    • tenancy/residential agreement
    • utility bills, rate notices
  • evidence you are employed or have ongoing business interests overseas
    • letter from your employer/employment contract in a foreign country
    • business tenancy agreement

If you have planned travel and have not been assessed as meeting the ordinarily resident requirements, please apply through the travel exemption portal under the ‘ordinarily resident’ category.

If you have received a travel exemption approval before 11 August 2021 and have not yet travelled, you may use this exemption for a single departure from Australia. You do not need to apply for another exemption, unless you have already travelled using your previous approval, or wish to depart again in the future.

If you are outside Australia and want to travel to Australia then return to your country of residence, you can apply for an outwards exemption before you arrive in Australia.


Melbourne Real Estate in the age of Covid-19

The short lockdowns earlier in the year had no significant impact in the real estate market in any sense. But Lockdown 6 is different.

The current lockdown is lasting much longer than the previous ones. It has significantly affected existing campaigns, paused/delayed proposed ones. According to our Melbourne E-Team real estate member McRae Property, the most significant impact is without doubt to cause a significant percentage of prospective purchases to decide not to sell in Spring 2021 because of the risk of Melbourne going into lockdown 7.

Agents all over Melbourne shares the same sentiment. The only question now is the quantum of the effect on the stock supply. McRae Property’s guestimate is circa 30% less than would otherwise have been the case.

Stock that does come to market, with high quality stocks have higher potential, will be keenly sought after and prices are expected to continue firming. Continuing the trend that began in the Spring of 2020 when Melbourne came out of the long lockdown of that year.

Buyers are still actively looking into the market and business is expected to continue as usual.