It’s been a long journey since Australia shut its international borders in May 2020 and allowed restricted numbers of citizens, permanent residents, and other exempt categories to enter the country in a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Australian Government recently relaxed the quarantine requirements for Australian citizens, permanent residents, their immediate family members, and other travellers who fall into one of the automatically exempt categories or are eligible to apply for and have been granted an exemption to travel here.

According to the Government, travellers may be eligible for reduced quarantine requirements when returning to Australia depending on the state or territory which they are travelling to.

Travellers returning to Australia may only enter and travel between NSW, Victoria, and the ACT without quarantining. You will need to comply with the quarantine requirements in the state or territory of  your arrival, and any other state or territories that you plan to travel to.

To check quarantine arrangements, see State and Territory Informationexternal icon for travellers.

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COVID-19 Omicron variant and its impact

In a further step towards resuming international travel, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders were expected to travel to Australia without the need to apply for a travel exemption beginning December 1. However, at the end of November, the federal government decided to postpone the easing of border restrictionsexternal icon to December 15 in response to the new Omicron variant.

The Omicron variant was first reported to the WHO by South Africa earlier this month, and it is currently being studied to see if it poses a greater threat than the Delta variant.

In response to the new variant, the Commonwealth banned non-citizens from the nine countries listed below from entering Australia: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Furthermore, New South Wales and Victoria require all Australians returning from overseas to isolate for 72 hours, whereas other states require 14 days of managed quarantine for international arrivals.

Currently, Australia’s international border remains closed to all travellers except fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family, as well as fully vaccinated “green lane” travellers from New Zealand and Singapore, and those with limited exemptions.

For the latest information on travel restrictions and exemptions, please refer to Home Affairs websiteexternal icon. To check quarantine arrangements, see State and Territory Informationexternal icon for travellers.

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The full list of visa categories eligible to enter Australia once the restrictions are lifted

From 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption.

You are an eligible visa holder if you hold one of the following visas:

Subclass 163 – State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner Visa

Subclass 173 – Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa

Subclass 200 – Refugee visa

Subclass 201 – In-country Special Humanitarian visa

Subclass 202 – Global Special Humanitarian visa

Subclass 203 – Emergency Rescue visa

Subclass 204 – Woman at Risk visa

Subclass 300 – Prospective Marriage visa

Subclass 400 – Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa

Subclass 402 – Training and Research visa

Subclass 403 – Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (other streams, including Australian Agriculture Visa stream)

Subclass 405 – Investor Retirement visa

Subclass 407 – Training visa

Subclass 408 – Temporary Activity visa

Subclass 410 – Retirement visa

Subclass 417 – Working Holiday visa

Subclass 449 – Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) visa

Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa

Subclass 461 – New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa

Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday visa

Subclass 476 – Skilled – Recognised Graduate visa

Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa

Subclass 485 – Temporary Graduate visa

Subclass 487 – Skilled – Regional Sponsored visa

Subclass 489 – Skilled – Regional (Provisional) visa

Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa

Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa

Subclass 500 – Student visa

Subclass 560 – Student Temporary Visa

Subclass 571 – Student Schools Sector Visa

Subclass 572 – Vocational Education and Training Sector Visa

Subclass 573 – Higher Education Sector Visa

Subclass 574 – Postgraduate Research Sector Visa

Subclass 575 – Non-Award Sector Visa

Subclass 580 – Student Guardian visa

Subclass 590 – Student Guardian visa

Subclass 785 – Temporary Protection visa

Subclass 786 – Temporary Humanitarian Concern visa

Subclass 790 – Safe Haven Enterprise visa

Subclass 870 – Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa

Subclass 884 – Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa

Subclass 988 – Maritime Crew visa

The immigration profession is waiting on clarification as to the status of Bridging Visa holders.

Additional visa subclasses may be added over time. However, exemptions will still be required for other visa categories until further notice. To find out more, click here: Travel restrictions and exemptionsexternal icon.

This post was originally published on https://hammondtaylor.com.au/external icon

Hammond Taylor is globally recognised as a leading Australian immigration law firm. With more than 50 years of combined migration law experience and a focus on innovation

Vaccination requirements when leaving or travelling to Australia

Australia considersexternal icon you to be fully vaccinated if you have completed a course of a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised vaccine. This includes mixed doses. Current vaccines and dosages accepted for the purposes of travel are:

  • Two doses at least 14 days apart of:

    • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria

    • AstraZeneca Covishield

    • Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty

    • Moderna Spikevax or Takeda

    • Sinovac Coronavac

    • Bharat Biotech Covaxin

    • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for 18-60 year olds).

  • Or one dose of:

    • Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.

The TGA is evaluating other COVID-19 vaccines that may be recognised for the purposes of travel to Australia in future. The most up-to-date information on approved and recognised vaccines is available on the TGA websiteexternal icon.

At least 7 days must have passed since the final dose of vaccine in a course of immunisation for you to be considered fully vaccinated. Mixed doses count towards being fully vaccinated as long as all vaccines are approved or recognised by the TGA.

If you have not been vaccinated with the above doses or schedule, you do not meet Australia’s definition of ‘fully vaccinated.’ This includes instances where the dosing schedule or vaccine eligibility differs in your country of origin. There are some exceptions to this as outlined below.

Learn more about vaccination requirements for each of the states.

Immigration and the law

Legislation about immigration changes frequently. For example, in June 2021 Australia added 22 new occupations to its priority migration list. So, it’s important to check the Australian Department of Home Affairsexternal icon website for changes that may apply to you. And, if you are interested in Australian student visas, work visas, or looking to migrate permanently, you need to lodge an application with the Australian Government. You may want to consider getting support from a lawyer or migration agent.