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Australian Immigration Update – Travel Restrictions and Temporary Visa Holders

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The Australian government have confirmed that from 15th December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible temporary visa holders can travel to and from Australia without needing to apply for a Travel Restriction Exemption. These changes were originally scheduled for 1st December 2021 but were delayed due to the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. 

Eligible temporary visas include:

Subclass 173 – Contributory Parent Visa Subclass 417 – Working Holiday Visa Subclass 485 – Temporary Graduate Visa
Subclass 300 – Prospective Marriage Visa Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional Visa
Subclass 400 – Temporary Work Visa Subclass 461 – New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa
Subclass 403 – Temporary Work (International Relations) Visa Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday Visa Subclass 500 – Student Visa
Subclass 407 – Training Visa Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Subclass 580 – Student Guardian Visa


A full list of the eligible temporary visa categories can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Bridging Visa Holders

The Department of Home Affairs have confirmed that Bridging Visa B holders are not included in the list of eligible visa holders. 

Generally speaking, Bridging Visas are granted when an individual is in Australia, holds a valid visa and applies for a new visa application before their current visa expires. The Bridging Visa comes into effect when their first visa expires, allowing them to remain lawfully in the country until a decision has been made on their new visa application. In order to travel internationally while holding a Bridging Visa, the individual will need to apply for a Bridging Visa B.

Even if the individual has applied for, or previously held, a visa category that is an eligible visa, they will not be automatically exempt from the countries travel restrictions until their new visa is granted.

Several other changes to Australia’s border restrictions came into effect on 15th December including:

  • Changes for fully vaccinated Singapore, South Korean and Japanese citizens; and
  • Lifting of restrictions to nine South African countries.

Singapore, South Korean and Japanese Citizens

Citizens of these countries are now able to travel to Australia on any visa category (e.g., Tourist ETA) if they are:

  • Fully vaccinated (as recognised by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration);
  • Travelling from the country of their passport; and
  • Arriving into a participating Australian state or territory.

Southern African Travel Restrictions

Australia has lifted its travel restrictions for travellers entering the country from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi that had been in effect since 29th November 2021. There are currently no separate immigration restrictions for these countries.

Travel Restriction Exemption Criteria

If an individual does not hold an eligible visa, or they are not fully vaccinated, they will need to apply for and be granted a Travel Restriction Exemption (TRE). Information on the criteria for a TRE can be found in our previous article.

Fully Vaccinated Requirement

The Australian government considers an individual is fully vaccinated if they have completed a course of a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised vaccine. This includes mixed doses. Current vaccines and dosages accepted for the purposes of travel are:

1. Two doses at least 14 days apart of: 

  • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria
  • AstraZeneca Covishield
  • Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty
  • Moderna Spikevax or Takeda
  • Sinovac Coronavac
  • Bharat Biotech Covaxin
  • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for 18-60 year olds)

2. Or one dose of: 

  • Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine

The TGA is evaluating other COVID-19 vaccines that may be recognised for the purposes of inbound travel to Australia in future. The most up-to-date information on approved and recognised vaccines is available on the TGA website.

At least 7 days must have passed since the final vaccine dose in a course of immunisation for an individual to be considered fully vaccinated. 

If an individual has not been vaccinated with the above doses or schedule, they do not meet Australia’s definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ and will have to apply for a Travel Restriction Exemption in order to enter the country. 

Vaccination exceptions and arrangements for children

Individuals with acceptable proof they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and children under 12 can access the same travel arrangement as fully vaccinated travelers.

If an individual cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, they will need to provide proof of a medical exemption. They should also check any requirements, particularly quarantine requirements, in the state or territory to which they are travelling.

Other Requirements to enter Australia

In addition to evidencing that they are exempt from Australia’s travel restrictions, an individual will need to complete the following before their flight into the country:

  • Complete an Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before their flight;
  • Undertake a pre-departure COVID-19 test within 3 days before their flight; and
  • Obtain a valid and recognised vaccination certificate.

These documents must be provided to airline staff when the individual checks into their flight.

Quarantine Requirements 

An eligible temporary visa holder may be eligible for reduced quarantine requirements when they enter or return to Australia depending on the state or territory to which they are travelling. 

Travellers entering Australia through New South Wales, Victoria or the Australian Capital Territory were required to isolate for 72 hours and complete COVID-19 PCR tests on day 1 and 5 after their arrival. However, from 21st December 2021, international arrivals into New South Wales and Victoria will no longer be required to complete 72 hours of isolation. They will be required to undertake a COVID-19 PCR test within 24 hours of arrival and isolate at home until they return a negative result. 

Different States and Territories have their own requirements, and these will change frequently. For example, eligible temporary visa holders travelling into Queensland are required to undertake 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine. 

How SIRVA can assist

There have been frequent changes to Australia’s travel restrictions and visa requirements over the last 18 months and there are likely to be further changes throughout the next year. As a combined immigration and relocation provider, SIRVA Relocation has assisted hundreds of individuals and companies with their visa and Travel Restriction Exemption applications since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes applications to bring skilled workers into Australia for long- and short-term projects, reuniting family members and allowing Australian residents to undertake meetings overseas. We ensure that our clients are kept up to date with the latest requirements and forecasted changes. SIRVA also has a comprehensive COVID-19 matrix which has proven to be extremely useful in keeping track of the ever-changing rules and regulations due to the pandemic. This matrix includes helpful, current information on topics as household goods (HHG) norms, visa and immigration updates, business travel restrictions, and more. 

SIRVA Worldwide Relocation and Moving is a global leader in moving and relocation services, offering solutions for mobility programs to companies of every size. With 59 owned locations and over 900 franchised and agent locations in 177 countries, we offer unmatched global breadth supported by localized attention and innovative technology that strikes the right balance of self service and human support. From relocation to household goods and commercial moving and storage, our portfolio of Brands (SIRVA, Allied, northAmerican, & SMARTBOX) provides the only integrated moving/relocation solution in the industry. By leveraging our global network, we deliver a superior experience that only a “one-stop shop” can provide.

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