Travel bans continue to be enforced by Australia as a protective measure against COVID 19.
Health Minister Greg Hunt today confirmed that the “human biosecurity emergency period” declared under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which has been in place since 17 March 2020 and was previously due to end on 17 June 2021, will be extended by an additional three months “until 17 September 2021.”
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently told reporters after a National Cabinet meeting in Canberra that its borders will continue to remain closed to international students for now.
Where does this leave visa holders and enthusiasts?
There is an exception to the travel restriction if travelling to New Zealand.
The Pacific Islands, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan have been tipped for future bubbles but progress on those front continues to falter due to ongoing outbreaks, especially those driven by the more contagious Alpha and Delta variants of COVID-19.
Travel exception for full vaccinated Australians
The Government is considering a pilot program to allow fully-vaccinated Australians travel overseas from August 2021.
The scheme could allow them to fly to selected countries, including low-risk destinations, and return without facing quarantine provided they show a negative COVID result on arrival.
An ‘amber’ grading for less risky countries is on the cards, which will include the ‘green’ category currently used for New Zealand, and ‘red’, which today represents the rest of the world.
For ‘amber’ countries, travellers are envisioned to face far less stringent quarantine rules.
Priority to employer-sponsored, global talent and business visas
The Federal and State governments are currently priority processing the Global Talent, the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) and the Employer-Sponsored visas within the Skill stream.A strong focus will be on applicants who can assist the state or territories recover from the economic blow delivered by the ongoing crisis such as those employed in health, medical research, life sciences, agri-food, engineering or digital sectors.
Those overseas are more likely to receive an invitation from the Federal government whilst those currently residing in a particular state in Australia is more likely to receive both a federal government invitation and an invitation from the government of the state that they reside in.
Partner and child visas
If you are married and in a de facto relationship as defined in the Migration Act, then you fall within an exempt category to travel to Australia. If you apply for a partner visa, your visa will be processed.
However, if you are just engaged or in the early stages of your relationship, it gets tricky.
Prospective Marriage visas (fiancé visas) are currently not being processed.
Those who currently hold these visas offshore are unable to enter the country. Thankfully, the government extended their visas to mid 2022 so their current visa doesn’t expire whilst awaiting for the travel bans to be lifted.
If you are currently waiting for your fiancé visa to finalise processing or would like to bring your loved one to Australia, you could consider obtaining a travel exemption to travel offshore to get married.
Once married, you could either
- convert your fiancé visa to the Subclass 309/100 partner visa partner visa without having to start all over again and re-pay $7.8k to the government, or
- if you have not yet applied for any visa, then you can apply for the Subclass 309/100 partner visa so that your visa can be eligible for processing.
In the meantime, your partner can attempt to travel to Australia by applying for a visitor visa until their partner visa is finalised.
If you have applied for any of the family visas below and your partner is currently with you onshore, your partner does not need to dash overseas to receive their visa grant.
Partner (subclass 309) visa
Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa
Child (subclass 101) visa
Adoption (subclass 102) visa
Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa
Students overseas continue to be eligible to enrol to courses online in Australia.
Some courses require the student to resume their studies on campus as soon as the travel bans are lifted. Such students are required to hold a student visa.
Other courses are completely online and do not require the student to hold a student visa whilst studying the course.
Even though the travel bans continue, one can still enrol into select Australian tertiary or vocational institution.
Extra one or two years for international students in regional areas
From 2021, the post-study work stream Temporary Graduate visa (TGV) holders (Subclass 485) who have acquired their degrees from a regional educational institution and have lived in regional Australia on their first TGV will be eligible for a second TGV.
The period of grant for a second TGV will be determined based on where the student studied and where they lived on their first TGV, as per the following categories:
- International graduates who have studied and lived in Category 2 will be eligible for an additional year on a second Temporary Graduate visa.
- International graduates who have studied and lived in Category 3 will be eligible for an additional 2 years on a second Temporary Graduate visa.
As per the information supplied by the Department, Category 2 includes the following major cities and regional areas: Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Greater Geelong and Hobart.
Category 3 includes regional centres and other regional areas.