Australia travel restrictions and exemptions: 1 February 2022

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been on-going for two years. In this time, Australia has made several changes to travel restrictions since first closing its borders.

It’s difficult to keep up!

That’s why we’re giving a summary of the travel restrictions as it stands on 1 February 2022. We’re also including information about who should and are eligible to apply for travel exemptions.

Please keep in mind that these restrictions and exemption allowances change all the time. We’ll publish and share any updates on our blog and our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

1. Fully vaccinated Australians

Fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents can travel to and from Australia without any restrictions. You do not need to apply for a travel exemption if you’re in this group.

2. Fully vaccinated eligible visa holders

Fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without having to apply for a travel exemptions.

To be an eligible visa holder, you must hold one of these visas:

  • Regional Sponsored visa (subclass 487)
  • Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489)
  • Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 494)
  • Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa (subclass 400)
  • Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403)
  • State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner Visa (subclass 163)
  • Investor Retirement visa (subclass 405)
  • Recognised Graduate visa (subclass 476)
  • Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482)
  • Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485)
  • Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300)
  • Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 173)
  • Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 870)
  • Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 884)
  • New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa (subclass 461)
  • Retirement visa (subclass 410)
  • Training and Research visa (subclass 402)
  • Training visa (subclass 407)
  • Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408)
  • Working Holiday visa (subclass 417)
  • Special Category visa (subclass 444)
  • Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
  • Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)
  • Student visa (subclass 500)
  • Student Temporary visa (subclass 560)
  • Vocational Education and Training Sector visa (subclass 572)
  • Student Schools Sector visa (subclass 571)
  • Higher Education Sector visa (subclass 573)
  • Postgraduate Research Sector visa (subclass 574)
  • Non-Award Sector visa (subclass 575)
  • Student Guardian visa (subclass 580)
  • Student Guardian visa (subclass 590)
  • Maritime Crew visa (subclass 988)
  • In-country Special Humanitarian visa (subclass 201)
  • Emergency Rescue visa (subclass 203)
  • Woman at Risk visa (subclass 204)
  • Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) visa (subclass 449)
  • Temporary Protection visa (subclass 785)
  • Temporary Humanitarian Concern visa (subclass 786)
  • Safe Haven Enterprise visa (subclass 790)
  • Refugee visa (subclass 200)

If you hold one of these visas but you’re not fully vaccinated, you must apply for an individual travel exemption before travelling to Australia. You’ll only be able to enter Australia if the Department of Home Affairs grants you the exemption.

Please note: Australia’s Department of Home Affairs regularly reviews this visa list and may add subclass over time.

3. Immediate family members of Australians and eligible New Zealand citizens

Immediate family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents, or New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia are exempt from Australia’s travel restrictions.

You may still have to prove your relationship, though, and you may have to apply for a travel exemption if you hold a temporary visa.

Our advisors are able to advise on and assist with both these processes.

Who is considered ‘immediate family’?

Australia classifies the following people as ‘immediate family’:

  • Spouses
  • De facto partners
  • Dependent children
  • Parents or legal guardians of dependent children

The special case of parents of adult Australians

In November last year, Australia expanded its classification of ‘immediate family’ to also include the parents of adult Australian citizens or permanent residents. This change was made for assessing travel exemptions only.

Australia considers a person an adult if they are 18 or older, and defines parents in this instance as:

  • Biological parents
  • Legal parents, including adoptive parents
  • Stepparents
  • Parents in-law

To travel to Australia as a parent, you’ll have to prove your relationship with your adult Australian children. You’ll also have to have a valid passport and visa, and you must be fully vaccinated.

Unfortunately, the parents of adult New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia do not qualify for a similar exemption.

However – you must apply for a travel exemption if you hold one of these visas

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs requires you to apply for a travel exemption in either of these cases if you’re classified as an ‘immediate family member’:

  • You hold a temporary visa, including a visitor visa other than a temporary Partner (subclass 820 or 309) visa or a temporary Child (subclass 445) visa.
  • You hold a Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa and are unvaccinated.

It’s important to note that you won’t be able to travel to Australia unless the Department of Home Affairs granted you an exemption. You’ll also have to hold a valid visa.

For clarification – Partner (subclasses 100, 309, 801 and 820) and Child (subclasses 101, 102 and 445) visa holders do not need to apply for a travel exemption.

4. Remaining exempt categories

Apart from the categories and visas discussed above, the following categories of people are also exempt from travel restrictions:

  • People who’ve been in New Zealand for 14 days or more immediately prior to arrival by air in Australia
  • Diplomats who are accredited in Australia, including their immediate family members
  • People transiting Australia for 72 hours or less
  • Airline crew and maritime crew, including marine pilots
  • People recruited under the Government-approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
  • Persons who hold a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa
  • Persons who hold a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the ‘Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Event’ stream and who are supported by the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce
  • Individuals invited or sponsored by the Australian Defence Force or the Department of Defence to undertake military activities
  • Individuals who has a prescribed status and wants to enter Australia on a Special Purpose visa
  • Fully vaccinated citizens of:
  • Fully vaccinated New Zealand passport holders seeking to enter Australia on a Special Category visa (subclass TY444)

5. Exemption requests to escort Australian citizen or permanent resident minors

Australia makes provision for situations where an adult has to escort a child to Australia with travel exemptions for the adult.

The child has to be a minor and an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, the adult should be a relative, for example an aunt, uncle or grandparent.

Travel exemptions for this category are generally approved under the following circumstances:

  • One guardian for each child under the age of 2 generally gets a travel exemption
  • Only one guardian within the same family group for multiple children over the age of 2 generally gets a travel exemption

The Department of Home Affairs will consider additional guardians on a case-by-case basis if medical advice and evidence is provided.

6. Individual exemptions

You can request an individual exemption if you do not hold an eligible visa or you’re unvaccinated and hold any type of visa.

The Commissioner of the Australian border Force or decision makers may consider you for an individual travel 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
  • Foreign national whose entry into Australia would be in the country’s national interest , supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • Person providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • Foreign national with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • Foreign national sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
  • Person who resides on a vessel that seeks safe port at the close appointed port for reprovisioning or safety reason for a limited time, supported by the relevant state or territory government where safe haven is sought
  • Student who has 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.
  • Student in your final three years of study of a medical university degree, where you 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.
  • Higher degree research student enrolled in an Australian education institution, including Masters by research and PhD students, with:
    • evidence of a current research grant from a Commonwealth agency or support from a relevant government agency outlining:
      • why the research is considered essential and/or in Australia’s national interest, and
      • how your role is critical to the research.
  • 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.
  • Student in the 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 with the next two months
  • Travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.
  • Unvaccinated Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa holder in the following circumstances:
    • You subclass 300 visa has been granted, and
    • Your visa application was lodged at least 12 months before submitting a travel exemption request.

Contact us for assistance with travel exemptions

Our team have successfully applied for several travel exemptions already.

If you’d like us to help you apply for yours, please contact us on +27 (0) 21 20 28200. Alternatively, book a consultation call to speak directly with our licensed advisor.

Our advisor will talk you through the requirements to apply for a travel exemption, and assist with your application from start to finish.



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