Australia – update on travel ban

8 July 2020 – Australia has seen a tightening of travel restrictions in the last 2 days so we thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone on how and who can enter or depart Australia.


Airport restrictions.

The Western Australian Government announced yesterday (7 July 2020) that there will be a cap of 525 international travellers permitted to land at Perth international airport per week. This is approximately 2 plane loads of passengers and this will include returning Australians and visa holders.

The Victorian Government announced last month that all international flights to Melbourne international are temporarily suspended.

The Queensland Government announced yesterday (7 July 2020) that they would like the Federal Government to limit the numbers of international flights arriving at Brisbane international airport but no cap has yet been announced. The Premier announced that she wants to slow the flow of international arrivals to ensure that hotels can cope with quarantine restrictions.


What does this mean for your business ?

If you have staff who need to enter Australia AND are permitted to enter there will be a delay on flights arriving.

All international arrivals whether a citizen or visa holder must also enter into 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (for example, a hotel), in their port of arrival.


Restrictions on temporary visa holders entering Australia.

The Border Force Commissioner has been given powers to approve travel in compelling and compassionate situations. The Government has put a framework around that which includes critical infrastructure projects, health and essential services, split families and temporary visa holders with a prior established residence in Australia and who were caught offshore by the travel restrictions.


The Commission of Border Force may consider an exemption to the travel ban in relation to current travel restrictions in cases such as : -

  • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest
  • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports
  • Persons with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exception
  • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia, and their immediate family
  • Case-by-case exceptions may also be granted for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.


The request for an exemption through Commissioner’s Discretion must be accompanied by:

  • Passenger details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, Australian residential address, Australian telephone number)
  • Case information: why this case should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption
  • Supporting statement: the request should be accompanied by a statement and evidence of how the individual meets one of the grounds for an exemption or excise of the Commissioner’s discretion listed above.


It is important that all travellers provide evidence to Immigration that they meet one of the exemptions above before travelling.


What does this mean for your business ?.

If you need to bring visa holders to Australia you must apply for a waiver of the travel ban. The decision is subjective and there are approximately 20,000 – 25,000 applications being lodged each week. The likelihood of approval is extremely minimal so your first decision should be to look at whether the person can work remotely rather than apply to enter Australia.

Should you be successful in applying for the travel ban then you must also take into account that your employee will be placed into quarantine for 14 days.


Restrictions on temporary visa holders departing Australia.

There are no restrictions on a temporary visa holder departing Australia. Temporary visa holders are those who hold a visa such as a working holiday, student or 482/457 visa. You must be aware however that if they have to return to Australia on their current visa then they must apply for a waiver to enter as detailed above.


Restrictions on Australian citizens and permanent residents departing Australia.

Australian citizens and permanent residents living in Australia cannot travel overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions.

However, if they need to leave Australia, they can apply online to apply online for an exemption to travel if they fall under one of the following categories:

  • travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid 
  • travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)
  • they are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • they are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
  • compassionate or humanitarian grounds 
  • their travel is in the national interest.


Depending on the reason for requesting exemption, evidence must be provided and could include:

  • proof of ID
  • marriage certificates
  • birth certificates
  • death certificates
  • proof of relationship (for example, shared tenancy agreement, joint bank account etc.)
  • visa status
  • letter from a doctor or hospital indicating why the travel is necessary
  • letter from an employer indicating why the travel is necessary or the work undertaken is critical
  • letter from a related business or company
  • any other proof you may have to support your claims.


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.


The person will not need to apply for an exemption if they are: 

  • ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers
  • a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound and inbound freight
  • associated with essential work at offshore facilities
  • travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.


Restrictions on Australian citizens and permanent residents entering Australia.

International arrivals who hold an Australian passport or are a permanent resident are permitted to enter Australia. They must however undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (for example, a hotel), in their port of arrival.

Immediate family members (partner and/or dependent children) of an Australian citizen or permanent resident may also enter Australia. If they are an immediate family member holding a temporary visa they will need to provide evidence of the relationship.

New Zealand citizens who normally reside in Australia (with a subclass 444 visa or other permanent or provisional visa) can enter Australia. They must carry proof of residency (driver's licence or documents that show residency) and present it at check-in. 

Important: New Zealand citizens and permanent residents not living in Australia can only transit through Australia to return to New Zealand.


Where to from here ?

If you have visa holders in Australia and they are applying for a further visa or permanent residence then the application process, requirements and processing times have remained relatively unaffected.

If you are looking to bring a foreign national to Australia then you will need to consider the information detailed in this article. Processing times for visa applications at overseas posts are taking considerably longer and an application for travel waiver is difficult to secure.

If your employee can work remotely from an overseas location then you should first of all consider this option. If they cannot work remotely and you need them to enter Australia to work then consider the above exemptions for waiver. If you believe that your business situation will meet one of these criteria then please contact us to discuss in further detail.


Contact us for more information

Catherine Clarke - Mob: +61 (0) 417 957 130
Elena Koulikov – Mob: +61 (0) 406 161 974
Sarah Loch-Wilkinson – Mob + 61 (0) 424 523 878
Corinne Johnson - USA: +1 (561) 367 3691 OR Australia: +61 (2) 8064 2313
Sandra Tempest - Mob: +61 (0) 407 804 977
Sheelagh Blanckenberg - Mob: +61 (0) 431 706 355
Amanda Tinner – Mob: +61 (0) 409 969 525

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