Border Reopening: If I leave Australia while on temporary visa, can I come back?



Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced international borders would open once 80% of Australia is vaccinated.


Everyone’s excited about being able to travel and see their families again, but what about getting back?


It’s pretty straightforward for citizens and permanent residents, but not as simple for those who are here on a temporary visa. Here's what you need to know about coming back.



Generally - No


According to Home Affairs:


“Temporary visa holders in Australia can depart Australia at any time, [as long as your destination country’s borders are open] ... however, they will generally NOT be permitted to return.”



Exceptions/ Who Can Get Back In?


1. Automatic Exemptions

You can automatically come back to Australia if you are:


2. Specific Visa Holders Who Are Also Exempt

You can also automatically come back if you currently hold any of these visas. You do not need to apply for an exemption to come back.

  • Partner visa holders (subclass 309, 100, 820, and 801)

  • Workers approved under the Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme

  • Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa holders

  • Visa holders supported by the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce (Temporary Activity visa - subclass 408)



Who Can Apply for an Exemption?


In some cases you can apply for a travel exemption. This will allow you to return to Australia from overseas.


You can apply for an exemption if you:

  • Have been invited by the Australian government or state government to help with COVID-19

  • Are providing specialist medical services (e.g. medical evacuations or delivering critical medical supplies)

  • Are working in specific occupations that the Australian government feels essential*

  • Are a student selected in an International Student Arrivals Plan *


* Please see the Home Affairs website for more more details



Travelling for an Emergency


What if you have to go, but aren’t on any of these exception lists?


You may be allowed to return if you can show “compassionate and compelling reasons” for traveling, such as the passing or critical illness of a close family member.


You’ll need to request an exemption before you travel. Where possible, you should apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel.


Please see the Home Affairs website for details on how to apply for an exemption.



Recommendations from our migration experts


Tony (MARN: 1576409)

In general, we’d recommend temporary visa holders not to travel overseas at this time.


Getting exemptions is usually quite difficult. There may also be different restrictions at the state and territories levels. Destination countries and even airlines can have their own restrictions. As a result, it can be quite difficult to come back to Australia.



Please note: This information is a summary of the key points. Border restrictions are currently quickly evolving, so please visit the Department’s website for the latest and most complete information: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/



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