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Entering Australia during COVID-19 in 2021

COVID-19 cases dramatically decreased in Australia during the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Australia, however, was one of the few countries which decided to take early action against COVID-19 by shutting its borders last March. Whilst coronavirus cases in Australia have now averaged out at six per day, it’s thought that substantial border restrictions will be in place for the majority of 2021.

Although Australia plans to vaccinate most of its residents during 2021, with the vaccination scheme set to roll out in February, the Department of Health Secretary, Brendan Murphy, highlighted the uncertainty surrounding the vaccines’ effectiveness.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” said Dr Murphy, going on to state his belief that Australia’s quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Yesterday it was announced that South Australia would open up its borders to travellers from Greater Sydney, providing they present a negative coronavirus test. Australia Police Commissioner, Grant Stevens, labelled the progression as “a good step forward.”

The continuation of border restrictions for most foreigners during the foreseeable future has left many people wondering how this will impact their plans to emigrate to Australia.

map of australia

Who Can Currently Enter Australia?

While the Australian border remains closed to most people, there are currently a select few who can enter, as outlined below:

  • Australian citizens
  • Australian permanent residents
  • New Zealand citizens
  • Immediate family of an Australian citizen or permanent resident (dependent child, legal guardian or spouse/de- facto)
  • Additional exemptions as determined by the Commissioner

You should refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for full requirements and exemption details.

Temporary visas such as visitor, working holiday and prospective marriage are generally unable to enter Australia at this present time. You should refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for updates.

The above individuals permitted to enter Australia must complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

With coronavirus cases now substantially lower than the beginning of 2020, Australia is now considering opening up travel corridors with other low risk countries such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

australia passport

When Should I Apply For My Australian Visa?

Australian visas continue to be processed, so it is still possible to apply amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Working holiday, skilled, parent and partner visas have a one year’s entry date, meaning you have 12 months from the date of your visa grant before you must enter Australia. Furthermore, skilled visas can take 6-8 months of preparation and processing before they are ready for lodgement, so it is worthwhile allowing yourself plenty of time.

Activating Your Visa Before The Initial Entry Date

The Department of Home Affairs recognises that because of COVID-19, travel plans have been disrupted and visa holders may not be able to activate their visas before the specified date. The Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) advised that “…generally the Department will not seek to cancel a Skilled visa where the only reason for doing so would be a breach of this condition related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

You can read more about activating your skilled visa on the Visa Go Australia website.

What Does The Future Of Australian Migration Hold?

Darren Chatt, a licensed migration agent for over 17 years, provides insight into what he thinks the future of Australian visa applications could entail. “Australia has long relied on overseas migrants to sustain and grow their economy; filling skill shortages and contributing to the tax system. Despite the temporary downturn in migration, I expect this to recover once the Australian border reopens. Australia will be looking for highly skilled people to help in the recovery of their economy post-COVID, so it is a good time to enquire about visas and new job opportunities.”

As lockdown continues to ease in Australia, the spotlight is very much on how Australia will rebuild its economy post-COVID. The Government has already announced numerous stimulus packages and brought forward construction projects to create jobs. Furthermore, the Australian Government has revealed a national ‘Technology Investment Roadmap’ to spur economic activity in the aftermath of Covid-19.

If you require Australian visa advice then you can speak with an experienced licensed migration agent at Visa Go Australia. You can keep up to date with exchange rates by visiting our British Pound to Australian Dollar currency rates page