Who can apply for an exemption to Australia’s travel ban?

6th August 2020

Travel waiver update:

As the border restrictions remain in place in Australia, entering and exiting the country has never been more difficult.

If you’re not an Australian citizen or permanent resident you cannot automatically enter the country, and if you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident you cannot automatically leave the country. If you believe you have a valid reason that meets the strict list of criteria to permit you leave or enter Australia you must apply for a travel ban exemption. But this is not necessarily an easy process.

By 22 June 2020 the Department of Home Affairs has received almost 40,000 travel exemption requests form people looking to enter Australia, and almost 33,000 requests form Australians looking to leave the country.

Of those applications only a fraction have been approved. Under Freedom Of Information Home Affairs have also released the number of approved travel exemption requests. Between 25 March 2020 and 22 June 2020 a total of 10,004 of the approximate 33,000 applications to depart Australia have been approved.

For travel exemption requests to enter Australia, roughly 40,000 applications have been submitted with only 10,440 being approved between February 202 and June 2020. Of the approvals, 6,681 applications were transits which leaves only 3,759 approved to enter and remain in Australia.

You can read the full breakdown of approved exemptions here.

The difficulty to be approved for travel exemption ban to enter Australia is clear. If you’re considering applying for a travel ban exemption we’d suggest getting in touch with our team who have been processing a number of travel ban exemptions throughout the border closures.

You can also watch our Senior Migration Agents discussing applying for a travel ban exemption on Facebook here.

16 July 2020 Update:

With the strict border closures in Australia, many visa holders who built lives in Australia found themselves on the wrong side of the border as the restrictions came into force.

Not only is it almost impossible to enter Australia if you aren’t an Australian citizen or permanent resident but it’s also extremely difficult to leave the country even if you are a permanent resident.

Who is allowed to leave and how can you apply for an exemption to the travel ban?

The only people who do not need permission to depart Australia with the current travel ban are those who ‘ordinarily reside’ in a country outside Australia.

The Department of Home Affairs considers someone as ordinarily residing in a country other than Australia if international movement records show that you’ve spent more time outside Australia than inside for the last 12 to 24 months.

If you want to travel and you are not considered to ordinarily reside outside of Australia you will need to provide evidence to show that you meet one of the criteria that would permit you to be exempt from the current travel ban.

Travelling to Australia

There are only two reasons for which you will be allowed to enter Australia:

  • You are an Australian citizen or permanent resident returning
  • You are an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident (spouse, de facto partner, dependent children and legal guardians)
  • You have a compelling or compassionate reason to travel to Australia urgently

Leaving Australia

If you are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or ordinarily reside in Australia and wish to leave Australia you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • Your travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)
  • You are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • You are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
  • You are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
  • Your travel is in the national interest

Even if you believe you meet this criteria you will still need to apply for a travel ban exemption.

Non-citizens are permitted to leave Australia without a travel exemption.

Temporary visa holders also do not need a travel exemption to leave Australia, but they should note that if they depart Australia and wish to return they will need a travel exemption to be allowed to re-enter Australia.

Travel Ban Exemption - Live discussion

Watch Jamie, Mel and Laurie discuss the difficulty of applying for a travel exemption during COVID-19 and the evidence needed to show you meet the criteria.

Watch on Facebook

For any inquiries

Contact one of our registered migration agents today