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What the Reopening of the Border Means for International Students, Skilled Migrants and Families Overseas

The Australian government has announced that starting from 1 December 2021, fully vaccinated travellers under an eligible visa would be able to enter into Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption!1 

Prior to this announcement, you must be a holder of a Humanitarian visa (subclass 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 449, 785, and 790), a Partner visa (subclass 100, 309, 801, and 820), or a Child visa (subclass 101, 102, 445, and 802) in order to travel to Australia without a travel exemption.  

All other visa holders require a travel exemption which are only granted to immediate family members,2 to those with compassionate and compelling circumstances, certain categories of students, or specific employer sponsored or critical skill sector migrants.  

Following this announcement, the list of eligible visa holders who do not require a travel exemption has been expanded to include student visas, and skilled visas. What, therefore, constitutes an eligible visa holder, and what does this change mean for international students, skilled migrants, and families overseas? We will seek to answer these questions below.  

Eligible visa holders  

The new change primarily opens up pathways for skilled migrants and international students to enter Australia. 

Skilled migrants who have been successful in their application for the following visas would be able to enter Australia without needing to apply for an exemption:  

  • Subclass 400 – Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa; 
  • Subclass 403 – Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (other streams, including Australian Agriculture Visa stream); 
  • Subclass 407 – Training visa; 
  • Subclass 408 – Temporary Activity visa; 
  • Subclass 417 – Working Holiday visa; 
  • Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa;  
  • Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday 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; or  
  • Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa.  

For businesses who wish to bring in international workers, this may be an opportunity to begin exploring visa options to address the skill shortage.  

For international students seeking to study in Australia, pathways through one of the Student (subclass 500), or Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visas may be available.  

For those wishing to bring family members over to visit Australia, a pathway through the Tourist visa is still currently unavailable. However, with the increase in pathways available, this may open up opportunities to begin exploring creative pathways to bring families into Australia. 

If you are a business seeking to bring international workers, an international student seeking to study in Australia, or if you have family members you wish to bring to Australia, please feel free to contact us on (07) 3252 011. We offer a 10-minute free consultation to discuss potential pathways moving forwards.  

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