Can I travel to Australia? Do I need an exemption to enter?

Can I travel to Australia? Do I need an exemption to enter?

Due to the border restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic there is increased confusion and apprehension regarding the ability to travel to Australia. Being able to enter Australia depends on a range of factors including, the reason for the entry to Australia and the residency/citizenship status of the person entering. It is important to note that all individuals arriving in Australia are currently required to quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility which is determined by the state government of the arrival port. The cost of this is likely to be at your own expense unless you qualify for an exemption/ fee waiver.

Restrictions on travel to Australia

Unless an individual is included in an exempt category or has been granted an individual exemption to enter Australia, they will not be permitted to enter the country.

Exempt Categories

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

  • An Australian citizen
  • A permanent resident of Australia
  • An immediate family member 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
  • A traveller transiting to 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
  • holder of a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa
  • travelling from New Zealand by air and have been in New Zealand 14 days prior to travel

*An immediate family member is limited to a spouse, de facto partner, dependent child/ren or legal guardian. If you hold a temporary visa or do not yet hold a valid visa for Australia, you must provide proof of your relationship (such as your marriage certificate, evidence of your de-facto relationship) before you travel to Australia. Do not travel until you receive confirmation from the government that you can.

Individual Exemptions to Enter

If you do not fall within one of the above categories, then an individual exemption must be applied for and may be granted based on specific grounds. These include:

  • A non-citizen travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • Providing critical or specialist medical services
  • A non-citizen with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • A non-citizen sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
  • A non-citizen whose entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian government
  • Military personnel
  • A student completing year 11 and 12 (with support from the relevant government authority)
  • Travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons

An individual exemption based on any of these grounds must be applied for at least two weeks, but no more than 3 months prior to the planned travel. Urgent exemption requests may be dealt with quicker if made on the basis of compassionate and compelling reasons.

If an exemption on these grounds is not granted, then travel plans should not be continued as you will not be able to enter Australia.

If you require any further information regarding the possibility of entering Australia, what your options may include and how to compile your application for an exemption, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team of migration lawyers here at Ramsden Lawyers, and we would be pleased to help you in these uncertain times.