The Reopening of Australia: removal of travel exemptions

23 November 2021

Maria Jockel, Global and National Immigration Leader, Legal Principal, Accredited Specialist, Immigration Law |

The Federal Government has announced changes to Australia’s international border arrangements, effective 1 December 2021.

A travel exemption is no longer required for fully vaccinated, eligible visa holders, including skilled and student visa holders.

What type of visas are now exempt?

Skilled worker and student visas, as well as humanitarian, working holiday makers, and provisional family visa holders are now exempt. The full list of visas is available on the Department of Home Affairs website, with those relating to skilled working visas including:

  • Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa
  • Subclass 476 – Skilled – Recognised Graduate visa
  • Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa
  • Subclass 489 – Skilled – Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa

What are the vaccination requirements?

In addition to holding an appropriate visa, eligible travellers must:

  1. Be fully vaccinated with a completed dose of a vaccine approved or recognised by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Details of the approved vaccines and dosages can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.
  2. Provide proof of their vaccination status.
  3. Present a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken within three days of departure.

Details for travellers with vaccine exemptions, and for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children (aged 12 – 17) can likewise be found on the Department of Home Affairs website. Children under 12 years count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes.

What are the quarantine requirements?

Quarantine requirements vary by State, however from 1 December 2021 fully vaccinated citizens from Japan and the republic of Korea who hold an Australian visa will be able to travel quarantine-free to NSW, Victoria and ACT.

Quarantine exemptions may also apply if you are travelling from New Zealand.

More information regarding quarantine requirements can be found on the Australian Government website.

Should I seek assistance with my skilled worker visa?

Given the rapidly changing requirements around skilled migration, seeking specialist advice may provide you with certainty regarding your application for a skilled worker visa.

The developments outlined above have increased Australia’s competitive positioning in the global War for Talent bought on by skill shortages and COVID-19. With ‘The Great Resignation’ now firmly in the spotlight, securing a skilled workforce in these changing times has become an increasing priority for many organisations.

Please contact Maria Jockel, Global and National Immigration Leader, Legal Principal and Accredited Specialist in Immigration Law for expert advice in addressing skilled visa applications and migration related needs.