17 Jul 2020

How COVID-19 Restrictions Continue to Impact Australian Travel

International travel restrictions continue to impact Australian travellers in different ways – here’s a summary for Australian visa holders, permanent residents and citizens.

1. Limitations on who can come to Australia

Under the international travel ban, travellers can only come to Australia if they are an Australian citizen, Permanent Resident or immediate family member, or if they hold a valid visa and travel exemption – for example, for critical work or compassionate reasons. Find out more about the specific travel exemption criteria and who can come to Australia here.

2. All travellers must meet 14 day quarantine requirements

All international travellers to Australia need to meet mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements in the state or territory of their arrival.

New legislation is being prepared that will allow the Australian Governments to charge for quarantine costs.

Travellers are also subject to 14 day state/territory and regional quarantine requirements when moving between states and regions, even if they have already met quarantine requirements upon arriving internationally into Australia.

3. Australian citizens and permanent residents need a travel exemption to depart Australia

Australian citizens and Permanent Residents with a need to travel out of Australia must apply for an outbound travel exemption and provide supporting evidence for their reasons for travel. You must meet one of the following criteria:

-You are travelling to help provide COVID-19 aid;

-You are travelling for critical work;

-You are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia;

-You are travelling on urgent and unavoidable business;

-You are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds;

-Your travel is in the national interest;

The amount of time you have spent outside of Australia may impact your exemption application.

4. Less international flights to Australia

International flights to Australia have drastically reduced since Australia commenced its overseas travel ban.

The number of available flights to Australia were further limited in July 2020 when the Government announced it would halve the already reduced rate of international arrivals to Australia to just over 4,000 people per week.

The Government has capped the number of weekly international arrivals per state to align with this quota. To facilitate this change, the Australian Border Force is liaising with airlines to manage the number of incoming passengers.

While eligible travellers can still travel to Australia, the reduction in flights will make it more difficult as less flights are available. Travellers will need to wait longer for an available flight and book well in advance to come to Australia.

5. Delays across the migration program

Throughout the COVID-19 period, the Government is still accepting visa applications, however significant delays are being experienced across the migration program. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted visa holders in various ways:

Temporary Visa holders currently in Australia must ensure they continue to hold a valid visa and apply for a new visa to extend their stay. This is particularly impacting those who are unable to schedule a flight to return to their home country before their visa expires. Several visa options may be available – such as a Visitor Visa or the new Subclass 408 COVID-19 Stream Visa. You can read about options to extend a person’s stay here.

Skilled Visa holders may now be receiving visa grants to come to Australia after a period of delays. Between the commencement of the travel ban in March and early July, very few applications were approved as the Government directed resources to managing the impact of the pandemic. Processing now appears to be underway and visas are being granted for some skilled applicants and people who applied for a visa over the past few months.

States are now no longer issuing invitations for State and Territory Nominated Visas while the Government is deciding on the number of nominations that will be allocated per state for 2020-21. This is expected to be announced before the October Budget.

Those preparing for Permanent Residence Visa applications may have experienced delays in obtaining skills assessments and English tests. These are now beginning to become more accessible.

The Government is considering International Student migration as part of Step Three of its Roadmap to a COVID-Safe Australia. However, due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria, Australia’s international student pilot trial has been delayed.

Face-to-face Citizenship ceremonies have recommenced as an option for Australian permanent residents in most states and territories after COVID-19 forced these to be conducted online.

Migration Connections Made Simple

We encourage you to get in touch if you have any visa or migration concerns. ‘Zero-contact’ consultations are available by Zoom or telephone if you need assistance with preparing your evidence requirements for a travel exemption or to find out your eligibility for a new visa, permanent residence or citizenship.

You can reach Immigracious’ registered migration agents at or on +61 8 6263 4406.


SBS News

The Sydney Morning Herald

SBS News

SBS News

The Canberra Times


Migration Institute of Australia

Sheila Woods

Posted by: Sheila Woods

A very experienced migration agent, Sheila has always been fascinated by this field. Her university degree thesis was on Australia’s post-war immigration history (and it earned her first-class honours).

Filed in: Uncategorized


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