COVID-19: Travel exemptions determined by the Commissioner (coming to Australia)

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), strict travel restrictions have been imposed when travelling to Australia.

Student visa holders (Subclass 500), Prospective Marriage visa (SC300), Business and Innovation SC188 visa holders, regional SC 491 visa and 494 visa holders and Visitor visa SC 600 and 601 who are currently outside of Australia may apply for an exemption application and if an exemption is granted you can travel to Australia.

You may apply for an exemption, for example in these situations:

  • 188 visa holders who have an active and operating business in Australia and their close dependents (spouse and children) are in Australia and left Australia before the travel ban and have been absent for a short period of time; and
  • SC491 and 494 visa holders who are working in Australia (and have not lost their job due to COVID-19) and their spouse and children are living in Australia and left Australia before the travel ban and have been absent for a short period of time.

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF) may consider an additional exemption in relation to the travel restrictions currently in place for:

  • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest
  • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports
  • Persons with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exception
  • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia, and their immediate family

Updated on 2 August 2020:

  • 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,
    • agricultural technology,
    • food production, and
    • the maritime industry
  • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery such as
    • financial technology,
    • large scale manufacturing,
    • film and television production and
    • emerging technology),
    • where no Australian worker is available
  • Compassionate and compelling reasons to travel

    The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant you an exemption if you are seeking to travel for compassionate and compelling 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.

    You must hold a visa and have an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions before you travel. You can request an exemption online and must provide appropriate evidence to support your claims. Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. All documents need to be officially translated into English.

    Where possible, you should apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than three months, before your planned travel. If you are travelling due to the death or critical illness of a close family member, you can apply inside this timeframe and we will prioritise your application.

    If you are not granted an exemption, you should not continue with your travel plans, as you will not be permitted to board a flight to Australia. If you are granted a travel exemption, you need to take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport.

  • Exemptions must be granted prior to these travellers undertaking travel to Australia. The request for an exemption through Commissioner’s Discretion must be accompanied by:
    • Passenger details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, Australian residential address, Australian telephone number)
    • Case information: why this case should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption
    • Supporting statement: the request should be accompanied by a statement and evidence of how the individual meets one of the grounds for an exemption or excise of the Commissioner’s discretion listed above.

It is important that all travellers provide evidence to DHA that they meet one of the exemptions above before travelling. For example if are an immediate family member holding a temporary visa you will need to provide us with evidence of your relationship.

If you would like a comprehensive consultation which includes assessing you for other temporary and permanent visa options (Skilled visas, Employer Sponsored, Partner, etc.) as well, we recommend our standard 45 minute to 1 hour consultation which can be scheduled here: (45 min- $160)

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