Travel Exemption Applications – Depart/Enter Australia

We are helping people to depart or enter Australia during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) travel restrictions by assisting through consultation as well as through preparing and lodging travel exemption applications.

Travel Exemptions

Australian citizens and Permanent residents can now depart Australia without a travel exemption if they are fully vaccinated with a TGA approved vaccine.

Australian citizens and Permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated with a TGA approved vaccine can depart Australia if they have applied for and have been granted a travel exemption.

Temporary visa holders will need to apply for and be granted a travel exemption to enter Australia unless they fall under one of the automatically exempt categories.  

Click on the headings below to be taken to the relevant section:

Travelling to Australia

People are wanting to travel to Australia for a variety of reasons, such as to be with their partner, family, for work, for a holiday, to study or to live in Australia.

People will need a travel exemption to enter Australia unless they are:

  • an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or
  • an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or
  • a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia, or
  • a person who has been in New Zealand for 14 days or more immediately prior to arrival by air in Australia, or
  • a person transiting Australia for 72 hours or less, or
  • airline crew, maritime crew including marine pilots, or
  • a person recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
  • a person who holds a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa
  • a person who holds a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the 'Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Event' stream and who is supported by the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce.
  • a fully vaccinated Singaporean, Japanese or Korean citizen travelling from Singapore, Japan or Korea and arriving into a participating Australian jurisdiction that allows fully vaccinated travellers to arrive quarantine free.

If you are not in any of the exempt categories listed above, you can request an individual travel exemption.

Travel Exemption applications are applied for through the Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner and must be applied for and granted before you travel to Australia.

The travel restrictions have been put in place to help protect Australia from the current global pandemic COVID-19 (coronavirus).

From 1 December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can now travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption

Eligible visa holders are people who hold the following visas:

  • Subclass 200 – Refugee visa
  • Subclass 201 – In-country Special Humanitarian visa
  • Subclass 202 – Global Special Humanitarian visa
  • Subclass 203 – Emergency Rescue visa
  • Subclass 204 – Woman at Risk visa
  • Subclass 300 – Prospective Marriage visa
  • 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 449 – Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) visa
  • Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa
  • Subclass 461 – New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa
  • Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday visa
  • Subclass 476 – Skilled – Recognised Graduate visa
  • Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa
  • Subclass 485 – Temporary Graduate visa
  • Subclass 489 – Skilled – Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 500 – Student visa
  • Subclass 580 – Student Guardian visa (closed to new applicants)
  • Subclass 590 – Student Guardian visa
  • Subclass 785 – Temporary Protection visa
  • Subclass 790 – Safe Haven Enterprise visa
  • Subclass 870 – Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
  • Subclass 988 – Maritime Crew visa

Immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident

You may be able to travel to Australia without a travel exemption if you are an immediate family member of an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, a New Zealand citizen who is usually resident in Australia.

The definition of an Immediate Family Member being used by the Australian Border Force includes:

  • a spouse;
  • a de facto partner;
  • a dependent child;
  • a parent/legal guardian of a dependent child;
  • a parent of an adult Australian citizen or permanent resident.

A person is a spouse if they are married. 

There is a 12 month living together requirement to meet the definition of de facto. The Department of Home Affairs website states that the 12 month living together requirement can be overcome by providing evidence of a registered relationship or explaining the compelling and compassionate circumstances why the exemption should be granted. 

Whether you are the spouse or de facto partner, evidence of the 4 pillars of relationship is also a requirement. The 4 pillars are:

  1. Financial;
  2. Household;
  3. Social;
  4. Level of commitment.

Visa holders (subclass 100, 309, 801, 820, 101, 102, 445) are exempt and do not need to apply for an exemption.

Prospective marriage visa holders 300 will still need to apply for an exemption.

For comprehensive information about evidence of your relationship that you can use to strengthen your travel exemption application, check out our partner visa page. 

Travel Exemption Reasons

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF) may consider the following reasons for grant of a travel exemption to enter Australia:

  • a person travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response;
  • a person whose entry into Australia would be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority;
  • a person providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies;
  • a person with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia;
  • a person sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL);
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement;
  • a person who resides on a vessel that seeks safe port at the closest appointed port for reprovisioning or safety reasons for a limited duration, supported by the relevant State or Territory government where safe haven is sought;
  • a student who has been selected to take part in an International Student Arrivals Plan that has been approved by the relevant state or territory government, and endorsed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment as satisfying the Protocols and Preconditions for International Student Arrivals;
  • a student in your final three years of study of a medical university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. The placement must commence within the next two months, and provide medical services to the Australian public;
  • a higher degree research student enrolled in an Australian education institution (including Masters by research and PhD students) with evidence of a current research grant from a Commonwealth agency or support from a relevant government agency outlining why the research is considered essential and/or in Australia’s national interest and how their role is critical to the research;
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department;
  • a student in your final years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian; hospital or medical practice which commences within the next two months;
  • a Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa holder who applied for their 300 visa more than 12 months ago;
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

The 44 occupations (ANZSCO code) are:

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director (111111)
  • Construction Project Manager (133111)
  • Accountant (General) (221111)
  • Management Accountant (221112)
  • Taxation Accountant (221113)
  • External Auditor (221213)
  • Internal Auditor (221214)
  • Surveyor (232212)
  • Cartographer (232213)
  • Other Spatial Scientist (232214)
  • Civil Engineer (233211)
  • Geotechnical Engineer (233212)
  • Structural Engineer (233214)
  • Transport Engineer (233215)
  • Electrical Engineer (233311)
  • Mechanical Engineer (233512)
  • Mining Engineer (excluding Petroleum) (233611)
  • Petroleum Engineer (233612)
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist (234611)
  • Veterinarian (234711)
  • Hospital Pharmacist (251511)*
  • Industrial Pharmacist (251512)*
  • Retail Pharmacist (251513)*
  • Orthotist or Prosthetist (251912)
  • General Practitioner (253111)
  • Resident Medical Officer (253112)
  • Psychiatrist (253411)
  • Medical Practitioners nec (253999)
  • Midwife (254111)
  • Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (254412)
  • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) (254415)
  • Registered Nurse (Medical) (254418)
  • Registered Nurse (Mental Health) (254422)
  • Registered Nurse (Perioperative) (254423)
  • Registered Nurses nec (254499)
  • Multimedia Specialist (261211)
  • Analyst Programmer (261311)
  • Developer Programmer (261312)
  • Software Engineer (261313)
  • Software and Applications Programmers nec (261399)
  • ICT Security Specialist (262112)
  • Social Worker (272511)
  • Maintenance Planner (312911)
  • Chef (351311)

Critical Skills

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response;
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies;
  • with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry);
  • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available;
  • providing critical skills in religious or theology fields;
  • sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).

Compelling and Compassionate Reasons

Compassionate and compelling reasons include, but are not limited to, needing to travel due to the death or critical illness of a close family member.

Quarantine Arrangements

Each State and territory is responsible for determining and managing quarantine requirements for people entering from overseas.

Travelling from Australia

Temporary visa holders leaving Australia

Temporary visa holders do not need an exemption to leave Australia. They can leave Australia at any time.

Temporary visa holders should be aware that if they wish to return to Australia while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, they will generally need a travel exemption.

Temporary visa holders leaving Australia for a short trip overseas

Temporary visa holders in Australia can depart Australia at any time, however, they will generally not be permitted to return to Australia.
Temporary visa holders seeking to leave and then return to Australia, may apply for an inwards exemption before they leave, however applications will generally only be approved if:

  • the applicant meets the requirements for an individual exemption from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions, and
  • they have a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia supported by relevant documentary evidence, for example:
    • attending the funeral of a close family member overseas, visiting a close family member who is seriously or critically ill, or seeking necessary medical treatment not available in Australia, or
    • travel is essential for business purposes

Australian citizens and permanent residents leaving Australia

Australian citizens and Permanent residents can now depart Australia without a travel exemption if they are fully vaccinated with a TGA approved vaccine.

Australian citizens and Permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated with a TGA approved vaccine can depart Australia if they have applied for and have been granted a travel exemption.

Fully vaccinated with a TGA approved vaccine

Australian citizens and permanent residents aged 12 and over who are considered fully vaccinated (with a TGA approved or recognised vaccine) can depart Australia without needing an outwards travel exemption.

‘Fully vaccinated’ has been defined as Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised vaccines, which includes mixed doses and current dosage levels:

  • Two doses at least 14 days apart of:
    • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria
    • AstraZeneca Covishield
    • Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty
    • Moderna Spikevax
    • Sinovac Coronavac
    • Covaxin
    • Sinopharm
  • Or one dose of:
    • Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.

If you were vaccinated in Australia, you will need to show airline staff your International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC). The ICVC will be provided in PDF format for you to print or hold electronically on your phone.

If you were vaccinated overseas and do not have an ICVC, you will need to present a foreign vaccination certificate.

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, you will need to provide proof of a medical exemption.

Reasons that you can be granted a travel exemption to depart Australia (for Australian citizens or permanent residents who are not TGA recognised fully vaccinated):

  • Your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid; 
  • your travel is for your business/employer;
  • you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia;
  • you are travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer;
  • you are travelling on compelling or compassionate grounds;
  • your travel is in the national interest;
  • you are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia.

You are exempt (do not need to apply for travel exemption) if you are:

  • A fully TGA approved and recognised vaccinated Australian;
  • An airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker;
  • a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, even if they are usually resident in Australia;
  • Engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound freight;
  • travelling in association with essential work at an offshore facility in Australian waters;
  • Travelling on official government business (including members of the Australian Defence Force and any Australian Government official travelling on a diplomatic or official passport);

The Department of Home Affairs have published the following information about the current travel restrictions which can be found here.

The person assessing the application will be using their discretion when making a decision on your application.

It is very important to ensure that your strongest application is put forward to give you the best chance of convincing the decision maker to use their discretion in your favour. This is where we can help you as we are experienced with submission writing.

Exemption Application Refused

Many exemption applications are being refused.

The physical exemption application is a simple process however many people are receiving refusals because they are not putting forward their strongest application.

Putting forward your strongest application requires a carefully thought-out plan of action, compiling and presenting the evidence. This is where we can help you as we are experienced with visa, citizenship and travel exemption applications.

How Visa & Citizenship Lawyers can help

We have helped many people obtain a travel exemption. We are very familiar with the process and what we need from you to be able to help you.

We offer 5 travel exemption services: 

1. Consultation: Travel exemption consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer = $360 (plus GST if applicable).

2. Depart Australia: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to DEPART Australia = $1,490 plus GST in total including 2 x re-lodgement if required. 

3. Enter Australia: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to ENTER Australia = $1,990 (plus GST if applicable) in total including 2 x re-lodgement if required.

4. Enter Australia for vaccinated parent: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to ENTER Australia for a parent who believes they are fully vaccinated with a TGA approved or recognised vaccine = $990 (plus GST if applicable). Enquire directly for more information about this service.

5. Enter Australia for 300 visa holder where application was lodged more than 12 months ago: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to ENTER Australia for a 300 visa holder where application was lodged more than 12 months ago = $990 (plus GST if applicable). Enquire directly for more information about this service.

Consultation: This is where we devise a travel exemption plan specific to your circumstances. The consultation will be online (via a video call through Zoom) or in person if you are in Sydney.

The consultation includes:

  • A complete assessment of your travel exemption circumstances
  • Clearly set out exemption advice and options
  • General visa advice if relevant (General visa advice includes information on travelling to Australia on a visitor visa, working holiday visa, student visa or partner visa. Note that if your matter requires advice related to work visas, business visas, post-study work visas, visa/citizenship withdrawals, 600 visitor visa refusal, previously lodged visas, or long-term residency pathway in Australia, the consultation will be $540 plus GST if applicable)
  • List of suggested documents for a travel exemption application
  • Any other relevant information that you should know with regard to travel exemptions.

The consultation and travel exemption plan will be with one of our experienced immigration lawyers.

The consultation and travel exemption plan is $360 (plus GST if applicable). After the consultation, you will be equipped to know what to prepare to lodge the travel exemption application yourself, or you may then opt for us to work with you on your evidence and prepare and lodge the exemption application from our business account along with our immigration lawyer's submissions setting out why the travel exemption should be granted.

Prepare and lodge your travel exemption application: We prepare and lodge your travel exemption application from our account to ensure that your strongest application is submitted. We have had clients come to us with multiple refusals before engaging our services where we have been able to obtain an exemption for them. As part of this service, we create a tailored strategy that clearly demonstrates your need to travel.

This may include:

  • Detailed suggestions of recommended evidence based on your
    situation;
  • Working with you to provide personal statements that address
    compelling or compassionate reasons;
  • Collating evidence to comply with the strict requirements of the
    Australian Border Force (ABF);
  • Our own written submissions that highlight your need to travel;
  • Prioritising your matter so that you can be where you need to be, as
    soon as possible.

We have had success having some of our client’s exemption applications escalated in the processing queue when there was an important reason why it should be escalated (this may be possible for you based on your circumstances).

Relevant news articles
Our immigration lawyer, Adam Byrnes, has recently featured on TV and newspapers regarding Travel Exemption applications:
Read here three Sydney Morning Herald articles we have featured in:

Appeal your Refused Decision in Court

If you have had multiple travel exemption refusals, there may be available to you the option to appeal the refusal decision in Court. Contact us for an initial travel exemption consultation if you would like to discuss Court appeal options. 

Below are examples of how we have helped our clients get an exemption.

Example 1* (Travelling from Australia)

Sue is an unvaccinated Australian citizen who received the unfortunate news that her mother living in the USA was terminally ill and had been given the prognosis of only a few weeks left to live. Sue applied for an exemption application to depart Australia so that she could see her mother again and to be with the extended family during this very challenging time.

Sue’s exemption application was refused.

Sue engaged Visa & Citizenship Lawyers to prepare and lodge a 2nd exemption application.
We asked Sue a number of questions to get the full understanding of her circumstances and then guided her to gather evidence so that we could put forward stronger compassionate reasons.

We worked with Sue to finalise all the evidence and along with our own submissions, we lodged a 2nd exemption application which was granted in a matter of days.

 

Example 2* (Travelling to Australia)

Max is a 34 year old German citizen whose defacto partner lives in Australia. Max’s plans were to move to Australia permanently to live with his partner and eventually get married. Max had taken measures to move to Australia including selling his house in New Zealand, purchasing a house in Australia, sending to Australia all of his belongings (including his cat and dog!).

Max twice lodged a travel exemption application and twice had been refused.

Max engaged Visa & Citizenship Lawyers to prepare and lodge a travel exemption application.

We worked with Max on his evidence of relationship, prepared and lodged a travel exemption application for him which was granted. 

*Names and facts have been changed to protect the identity of our clients

Our Services

We have helped hundreds of people obtain a travel exemption. We are very familiar with the process and what we need from you to be able to help you.

We offer 5 travel exemption services: 

1. Consultation: Travel exemption consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer = $360 (plus GST if applicable).

2. Depart Australia: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to DEPART Australia = $1,490 plus GST in total including 2 x re-lodgement if required. 

3. Enter Australia: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to ENTER Australia = $1,990 (plus GST if applicable) in total including 2 x re-lodgement if required.

4. Enter Australia for vaccinated parent: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to ENTER Australia for a parent who believes they are fully vaccinated with a TGA approved or recognised vaccine = $990 (plus GST if applicable). Enquire directly for more information about this service.

5. Enter Australia for 300 visa holder where application was lodged more than 12 months ago: Consultation AND prepare and lodge application to ENTER Australia for a 300 visa holder where application was lodged more than 12 months ago = $990 (plus GST if applicable). Enquire directly for more information about this service.

Exemption Applications For: 

Two Partners on a Temporary Visa

A Partner of an Australian citizen or permanent resident

Hanne Haugen
Hanne Haugen
July 16, 2020.
Verified review
Adam at Visa & Citizenship Lawyers made the difficult and lengthy process of applying for a 820 partnership visa, smooth and easy to navigate. His knowledge and expertise was incredibly helpful, and provided reassurance and calm in a stressful situation, with a huge document load and evidence to compile. He also ensured that the 801 visa and permanent residency came through straight after the 820 was granted - which I wasn't aware was possible and wouldn't have been able to achieve had I gone it alone. His dedication and clear communication throughout was second to none. I cannot thank and recommend Visa & Citizenship Lawyers enough.
Catherine Wright
Catherine Wright
June 4, 2020.
Verified review
VisaCitizenship Lawyers Much appreciation and thanks to Adam and the team. After my many attempts to gain a border exemption into Australia during the pandemic, it has finally been granted on first attempt via Adam. So much stress has been lifted. My only regret is that I didn’t try this company first. Thank you Catherine
Sascha Retter
Sascha Retter
May 29, 2020.
Verified review
Adam helped us very much with the application for a partner visa which I’ve got yesterday - after 19 months. Quicker then we thought. Thank you Adam for the support and professional help.
Viki Hayward
Viki Hayward
May 20, 2020.
Verified review
Adam and his team gave very prompt and professional service for a complicated visa application. Highly recommend.
Nick Plomp
Nick Plomp
May 2, 2020.
Verified review
As a foreigner, immigration in Australia can be a complex thing. Overnight changes, small writing, changing governments, 457,186,187 etc. We, a Dutch family of four, reached out to Adam and his team for Permanent Residency. Visa & Citizenship Lawyers excelled in thoroughness and diligence, which in our eyes resulted in a flawless process and a granted PR. We've already recommended Visa & Citizenship Lawyers to numerous friends and they experience the same. Thank you so much, Nick.
Otto Gonzalez
Otto Gonzalez
April 13, 2020.
Verified review
We couldn't imagine doing our whole migration process for my spouse without the professional and efficient handling of our case by the team at Visa & Citizenship Lawyers. Their attention to detail and customer service puts you at ease and makes the whole red tape easy to handle. We highly recommend anyone entertaining the idea of initiating a migration process here or outside Australia. Overall, fantastic. Thank you guys. All the best, Otto & Luca
James Laughland
James Laughland
April 9, 2020.
Verified review
AS a UK lawyer applying for permanent residency in AUS I valued Adam's knowledge on all matters of immigration law and his efficient working practices that allowed all information to be uploaded electronically. Trying to navigate the system without his advice and support would have been daunting.
BlownLux Barangaroo
BlownLux Barangaroo
April 7, 2020.
Verified review
The team at Visa & Citizenship Lawyers take care of our sponsorship, nomination and visa applications and have assisted us over the years with securing a number of our hairdressing staff on 457 and 482 visas. We highly recommend their services for immigration matters.
Douglas Benzie
Douglas Benzie
March 20, 2020.
Verified review
Helped my friend with a lot of visa questions. Thank
Kate White
Kate White
March 18, 2020.
Verified review
Adam is a lifesaver. He guides my clients for AAT tribunal matters with visa refusals; such as student visa refusals, partner visa refusals, business visa and sponsorship refusals. An absolute professional and highly recomended if you need visa help.