The NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and the Prime Minister Scott Morrison made some big announcements on Friday. From 1 November 2021:
- fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will no longer need a travel exemption to leave Australia
- fully vaccinated travellers arriving in NSW will no longer need to quarantine in hotels or at home
- parents of adult Australian citizens and permanent residents will be considered ‘immediate family members’ for the purposes of travel exemptions
It is important to note that the Prime Minister’s comments clarified that the Premier’s announcement regarding the ‘reopening’ of the NSW border did not extend to non-Australian citizens and permanent residents:
The Commonwealth Government has made no decision to allow other visa holders – skilled visa holders, student visa holders, international visitors travelling under an ETA or other international visa arrangement, visa, visiting visa arrangement – to come into Australia under these arrangements. They are decisions for the Commonwealth Government, as the Premier and I know, and, but where we’re in a position to make that decision down the track, then obviously in New South Wales they will be able to do so, if they’re vaccinated, without having to quarantine.
This means that all temporary visa holders (including TSS visa holders, international students and Visitor visa holders) will still require an exemption to enter or leave Australia, in line with the border closure that remains in force. The Prime Minister has given no indication as to when the border closures will cease, but it is expected that this will happen once Australia has reached Phase D of the National Plan, which could be as early as December 2021.
Quarantine requirements are the prerogative of the states whereas the international border is the prerogative of the Commonwealth, so at this stage, it is only NSW that will allow quarantine-free entry to the state. It is likely that other states and territories will make similar announcements when they have met their respective vaccination targets.
For those who have been eagerly awaiting being reunited with their parents overseas, the changes to the definition of ‘immediate family member’ will mean that from 1 November 2021, this will actually be possible. No details have been released in respect of how parents can access the exemption for ‘immediate family members’, but more information will be released closer to 1 November so watch this space.
What does this mean?
For anyone hoping to travel to or return to Australia, or for employers looking to recruit international staff, all indications are that Australia (and particularly NSW) is now firmly on the road to reopening. The time to start planning for 2022 is now! Get in touch with us to discuss your visa needs as soon as possible, so as to minimise any delays.