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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.

What you need to know about the Australian COVID Vaccination Policy as an expat in Australia

Making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to all Australians is a key priority of the Australian, State and Territory governments. But what does this mean to expats staying in Australia?

The Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (Policy) outlines the approach to providing COVID-19 vaccines in Australia. It sets out key principles, such as that COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for free to all Australian citizens, permanent residents, and most visa-holders. Further, it outlines how COVID-19 vaccines will be accessible on a rolling basis, dependent on vaccine delivery schedules and the identification of groups for most urgent vaccination.

Who is covered by this policy?

The COVID-19 vaccination will be free for all Medicare-eligible Australians and all visa-holders excluding the following:

  • excluding visa sub-classes 771 (Transit)
  • 600 (Tourist stream)
  • 651 (eVisitor)
  • 601 (Electronic Travel Authority).

In terms of preliminary priority population groups, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) identified the top three priority for the vaccination which are:

  • Those who are at increased risk of exposure and hence being infected with and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others at risk of severe disease or are in a setting with high transmission potential. This includes health and aged care workers; other care workers, including disability support workers; and people in other settings where the risk of virus transmission is increased, which may include quarantine workers.
  • Those who have an increased risk, relative to others, of developing severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older people and people with underlying select medical conditions.
  • Those working in services critical to societal functioning including select essential services personnel and other key occupations required for societal functioning.

For further information about the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, you may download the Australian Government Policy here.

The Foreign Exchange Market – What Is an Interbank Rate?

 

The foreign exchange market is a global decentralized market also known as an over-the-counter market where bank dealers make the market to determine the interbank exchange rate, i.e. the rate the banks use when trading with one another.

The interbank rate is the mid-point between the buy and sell rate for a currency on the open market and is the most accurate rate of exchange at any given time. You can easily check this at any time using the XE Currency Converter.

Unfortunately for most of us, this rate is reserved solely for banks and large financial institutions trading in large amounts of foreign currency.

For retail or business banking customers looking to make smaller international money transfers, a margin (or spread) will be applied to the interbank rate to ensure a profit for the service making the transfer. As a retail banking customer, this margin may be anywhere between ~4-5% of the interbank rate.

The graph below illustrates the rate that a customer may expect to receive from the bank when converting their AUD or NZD to GBP.

What determines whether I receive a competitive rate?

Naturally, when sending money abroad, it’s in your best interests to ensure you keep as much of your money as possible by locking in a favorable rate of exchange.

The exchange rate you receive will be based on a number of factors, including:

  • Volume – the amount you are converting
  • Currencies exchanged
  • Knowledge and awareness
  • Frequency of transactions – ongoing or one-off

However, one of the most sure-fire ways to ensure you are receiving a competitive rate is to look at using a money transfer specialist like XE who provides a much sharper rate of exchange than you would otherwise receive from the banks.

Why you should look beyond your bank

XE works closely with our broad network of referring partners to provide their clients with a competitive, secure money transfer solution.

As such, when you choose XE Money Transfer via one of our partners, you will receive preferential rates of exchange that are more competitive than you would receive from other providers.

…It’s not just about the rate

At XE, we pride ourselves on delivering our clients value beyond a great rate, providing a much more comprehensive service than they could expect to receive from the banks.

Exchange rates fluctuate at any given minute and as such our expert team is on hand to be your eyes and ears in the market and advise on how to ensure you lock in the best rate possible.

We also offer a range of products typically not made available to retail banking clients, including Market Orders and Forward Contracts, that will help you reduce your exposure to currency risk.

Whatever your needs or situation, feel free to get in touch with the team at XE to discuss the best approach to your foreign currency needs.

Handy Hints to Feel at Home in Your New Environment

 

There are many challenges with relocating, with some challenges rating higher on the stress scale than others. Once the logistics of the move are over and you are no longer stepping over boxes or searching for teaspoons, settling in is the next hurdle.

By settling we don’t just mean sorting out your new home, but how do you make your new environment ‘feel’ like home?

It can be daunting with family and friends no longer near at hand. The ‘euphoria’ of arriving safely with your belongings is quickly overtaken by the realization ‘that’s it, I’m here, what now?’

The settling in period can be quite different for those who have relocated for work and for those who have accompanied their partners. Your new work environment is your new routine and you tend to hit the ground running.

Many companies offer support and programs to assist with settling in. These are really worthwhile participating in, especially if language or cultural differences are a challenge with the new job.

Social or sports clubs attached to your company are a great way to meet people initially. Meeting up with people who have the same interests will broaden your social circle, while you slowly build your own network. If you have relocated overseas, seek out expat groups to join.

Expats have already done what you’re doing and can be a wealth of information and may even prevent you from making mistakes due to your inexperience. Remember this is not about trying to etch out a piece of home in a foreign land it’s about finding a support system to help, in what can be for some, a lonely settling in period.

Don’t neglect opportunities to form friendships within your local community too, it’s the best way to assimilate and feel part of your new environment. If on the other hand, you are relocating because of your spouse or partners job, it presents with its own kind of challenges.

You may not be able to work, due to visa restrictions, unrecognized qualifications or having young children. You may find yourself somewhat isolated, in the initial phase, while your partner’s days are full and busy with their new job.

You may be waiting for them to return home from work ready to hear all their news only to be met by an exhausted partner, whose day has been full of learning new systems, meeting new colleagues, navigating new roads or transport systems, and all in another language.

You, on the other hand, may not have spoken to another adult all day! It can put a strain on the relationship.

It’s important for both parties to see what challenges the other is facing. Good communication is key to understanding and acknowledging what the other is going through.

For it to be a success, both parties need to feel supported and listened to, while navigating their new life. It is not uncommon for a couple or family to return home because they were not prepared for the possible struggle of the early months.

It can be a painful learning curve to know that it needs to work for both, for it to work at all.

Property Services – What You Need to Know Before You Purchase a Property

 

Melbourne is a very large city even when viewed on a world scale.

It has a larger population than Rome, Montreal, Berlin or Athens and is only slightly smaller than Barcelona, St Petersburg, and Sydney.

Having a very significant population and a considerable geographic area, there are a number of differing precincts in our city that will appeal to expats seeking particular lifestyles, amenities and/or property types.

Malvern and Hawthorn in the inner southeast are very family orientated being extremely well serviced by public transport and featuring most of Melbourne’s best private schools, leafy gardens, and excellent shopping strips.

Albert Park and Middle Park are two spectacular inner bayside suburbs that offer wide streets, fantastic cafés and easy access to the city.

How do you know where to buy? Or when and how?

McRae Property is here to help. Download our guide to learn more about Melbourne, tricks on finding the best property for you and to find out why you need help.

To download our guide, click here

Taxes in Australia – Melbourne Guide

Australia is generally regarded as a high taxing country.

Nevertheless, there are excellent tax concessions depending on whether you meet certain definitions and criteria under the Australian taxation law.

This guide provides a non-technical plain language guide to questions commonly asked by expats in relation to the Australian tax system.

Australian income tax law is complicated and certain concessions which may be available for some expats may not be available to others.

To download the guide, click here

Overreaction and the Creation of Opportunity

 

The general Melbourne property market is being adversely affected by the repercussions stemming from the Banking Royal Commission and a tightening of APRA (the banking governing body) provisions with respect to lending practices.

In our view, the regulators have overshot the mark with the effect on buyer activity plain to see every Saturday at auctions around the city, with property failing to sell or even attract bidders in some instances.

The Credit Squeeze

In essence, we are in the middle of a credit squeeze. Pure and simple. It is not a matter of purchaser’s intent being affected. It is their capacity to actually borrow (a sufficient amount of) money that is the issue.

This is, of course, very much a double-edged sword which, depending on your circumstances, will be either good or bad news. For instance, if you have finance approved or better still, don’t need any finance, you will be in a very strong bargaining position.

The Opportunity for Expats

Many of our Expat clients are seeing this as an opportunity to get into a softening market for the first time in about 6 years.  Our advice to them and all of our other clients is simple.

“Hasten slowly”. What does that mean? There is no need to buy a property “tomorrow” as the current financial environment is likely to prevail (at least) during 2019.  Having said that, there is nothing wrong with buying the right property if it presents itself.  Trying to pick the bottom of the market is a high-risk strategy as the Melbourne market is notoriously resilient. Particularly with circa 120,000 people moving to our city every year.

You don’t want to wake up one morning and the market has turned. And it will happen, it’s just a matter of when.

So no hurry (yet), take it slowly, find the right house (ie. let us find the right house for you!), do all the appropriate due diligence and buy it for the right price.

In our view, you have 12 months to do so. After that, I make no promises!!

Expatland Relocation – Ensuring Your Move Is a Success

 

Australia is a popular choice of destination for many expatriate families and even though it has language, cultural and lifestyle similarities to many other countries, moving to Australia is not without its challenges.

Moving home anywhere is widely known to be one of the most stressful experiences in life and so it is particularly important when moving across international borders to get professional assistance from a specialist International Moving company and/or Relocation Service Provider.  Australia is no exception.

Our E-Team member Nuss Relocations are experts in relocation services and has written a guide on helping you ensure your move is a successful one. This guide is a must read to help you alleviate the stress and complexity of your move.

To download the guide click here

Expatland Finance – Being Prepared in Your New City

 

The cost of living is of major importance to you and your family in looking at whether you will be better off in Expatland. The cost of living in different parts of Expatland varies widely and is affected by many factors beyond your control.

Just one of these, for example, is, say, the effect of tax rises in Expatland.

Those countries in Expatland that may have higher national debt as a percentage of GDP might seek to raise taxes shortly after your arrival. This tax rise – whether indirect or direct – may affect your cost of living in a very short period of time.

It is therefore important for you to prepare a budget. Our E-Team members, XE have written a guide on ensuring you are well equipped to deal with your move financially. It is an essential read and will assist any expat with moving to their new home.

To download our guide please click here: