COVID-19 and Coming into Australia

Guner Hussein

Guner Hussein

Guner is the Principal lawyer at GSL with over 4 years of experience in Migration law.

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COVID-19 and Coming into Australia

In my previous column, I discussed about ways on how to continue staying in Australia depending on the type of visa you currently hold.


In this column, I would like to discuss how you may obtain consent to travel to Australia depending on the type of visa hold or anticipate to hold.


You cannot come to Australia unless you are in an exempt category or you have been granted an individual exemption to the current travel restrictions.


Exempt categories

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



Australian citizen

Australian citizens can enter Australia and, in exceptional circumstances, can enter without a valid Australian passport.


If you don’t have a valid passport, and urgently need to travel before a passport can be issued, please advise airline staff that you are an Australian citizen and do not require a visa to enter Australia. The airline will contact the Australian Border Force to verify your citizenship. You must carry other identity documents with you.


Permanent resident of Australia

You can enter Australia if you hold a permanent visa for Australia, including a Resident Return visa.


I am an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident

You can travel to Australia if you are an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident. You must provide evidence of your relationship and you must hold a valid visa before you travel.


You are only considered to be an immediate family member if you are:


  • a spouse
  • a de facto partner
  • a dependent child/ren
  • a legal guardian.


Partner (subclasses 100, 309, 801, 820) and Child (subclasses 101, 102, 445) visa holders can come to Australia. You do not need to request an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions.


Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa holders can’t come to Australia at the moment.


If you hold another type of 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 such as shared finances or property, your birth certificate or birth certificate for your children) to the Department before you travel to Australia. You must not travel until you are advised.


International students

Changes announced by acting immigration minister Alan Tudge on 20 July 2020 in relation to international students include the following:


  • The government will recommence granting student visas, allowing travel to Australia as soon as borders reopen
  • International students will be able to lodge an additional student visa application free if Covid-19 prevented them completing study under their original visa
  • Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to Covid-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.


Individual exemptions

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant you an individual exemption if you are:


  • a non-citizen travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • a non-citizen with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • a non-citizen whose entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant state and territory government
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.


Compassionate and compelling reasons to travel

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant you an exemption if you are seeking to travel for compassionate and compelling reasons. Compassionate and compelling reasons include, but are not limited to, needing to travel due to the death or critical illness of a close family member.


You must hold a visa and have an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions before you travel. You can request an exemption by applying through and must provide appropriate evidence to support your claims.


Where possible, you should apply for an exemption at least 4 weeks, but not more than 3 months, before your planned travel.


If you do not have a current visa and would like to know how to submit a successful visa application, please download our free visa application checklist here.


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