On 20 March 2020, Australia put in place its travel ban, preventing all but Australian citizens and permanent residents from entering the country.
Applying for an Exemption
Currently, in order to travel to Australia, you must meet one of the existing exemptions.
- You are an immediate family member (spouse, de facto partners, dependent child or legal guardian) of an Australian citizen or permanent resident and you need to travel to Australia now
- You have a compassionate and compelling need to travel urgently
- You need urgent medical treatment/medical evacuation
- You have a critical skill
In order to apply for an exemption, you will either need to hold or have applied for an Australian visa.
Generally, if you have applied for a visa, you should apply for an exemption once your ImmiAccount indicate the visa is subject to ‘Further Assessment’. Having said that, an exemption can be applied for at any time once your visa application is lodged.
If you currently hold a visa, then you should apply at your soonest convenience.
We note that some applicants are finding that their exemption requests are only being considered in the third or fourth attempt, so it is worth applying a few times. There is no fee to apply and you can improve your argument each time. We have had some examples of requests being granted on the tenth request.
If you meet one of the above grounds but are unsure how to provide the appropriate evidence, then you should contact our office for advice. Particularly, if you are seeking to satisfy the criteria of being a ‘de facto’ partner of an Australian citizen or permanent resident as the evidence requirement is quite strict.
Applying for an Exemption – a compassionate and compelling need to travel urgently
There are a number of possible grounds that can meet this criteria:
- You have a pregnant family member in Australia with no other carer
- You hold a temporary visa, are pregnant and the father is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- You have a family member in Australia with an urgent need for care or support
- You have applied for a permanent visa (eg. 820 or 309) but are offshore and your partner is onshore
If any of these categories are relevant, then you should contact our office for further advice.
Future Pathways – Students
Currently the South Australian government is discussing pilot programs to bring specific student cohorts onshore (See: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-17/return-of-international-students-amid-coronavirus-defended/12564432). It’s unclear whether these are university or vocational students.
This is an encouraging sign as it suggests that State governments are actively looking at further options to expand the existing exemptions to students. This is entirely an economic decision as states are reliant on the income from student fees.
Accordingly, it may be worth considering a short course in order to avail yourself of this likely exemption. Generally, the shortest course you can select to be eligible for a student visa is nine months. We set out a list of possible vocational courses that may be worth considering.
- Cert III in Individual Support
- Cert Iv in Individual support
- Certificate III in Fitness
- Certificate IV in Fitness
- Certificate IV in Yoga Teaching
- Diploma of Yoga Teaching
- Diploma of Sports and Recreation Management
- Certificate IV in Massage Therapy
- Diploma of Remedial Massage
- Certificate IV in Dance Teaching and Management
- Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care
- Certificate III in Individual Support
- Certificate IV in Aged Support
- Diploma of Mental Health
- Diploma of Counselling
- Cert III and IV in Automotive
- Hospitality – Cert III and Cert IV in commercial cookery
- Diploma of hospitality management
- Diploma of leadership and management
- Diploma of business
- Diploma of IT
- Diploma of Tourism
- Cert IV – accounting
If this pathway is of interest to you, please contact us and well will provide you with a free consultation with one of our education agents.
Future Pathways – Fiancés and fiancées
We anticipate that the ‘immediate family’ exemption will eventually be broadened to include fiancés and fiancées of Australian citizens or permanent residents.
If you are in this category, we strongly recommend you contact your local federal member and request that they advocate for the exemption criteria to be expanded.
The following link allows you to find your local member. You should let them know that you or your partner are currently subject to the travel ban and that it is affecting you adversely.
What if my ‘Must Arrive By’ Date is approaching?
If you currently hold a visa with a ‘Must arrive By’ date, you can contact the Department and have this date extended.
Our office would be happy to assist visa holders in requesting that this visa requirement be waived.
Summit Migration provides a free fifteen-minute consolation to all potential applicants. Please feel free to contact us on the number on the top of the webpage to discuss your options moving forwards.
This blog post does not constitute legal advice but is general information only.