Skip to main content

Correct as at 15 October 2021

Recently, as Australia takes on a different strategy in dealing with the pandemic, there have been multiple announcements around borders opening. The headlines refer to open borders and freedom of international travel, but this is not entirely accurate for all, in particular for temporary visa holders.


We think it is important to note that:

  • No changes have been announced in relation to temporary visa holders. Under the current border measures:
    • A temporary visa holder who leaves Australia, at the present time, will still require a critical skills/compelling and compassionate travel exemption grant to be permitted to re-enter Australia.
    • Temporary visa holders who are currently offshore will still require a critical skills/compelling and compassionate travel exemption grant to be permitted to enter Australia.
  • Media announcements have not indicated that the processing directions have changed for offshore permanent residence visas where the application has been made under the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) pathway. The Ministerial Directions continue to direct processing for occupations on the Priority Migration Skill Occupation List (PMSOL) and aside from these occupations, we have seen few other visa grants in the subclass 186 space.
  • The Global Talent Independent (subclass 858) pathway remains a viable pathway for offshore visa applicants to enter Australia and we have seen no delays or changes to processing times and visa grants via this pathway. It has continued to be processed throughout the pandemic and remains a very popular pathway for entry under the current border measures.
  • For those who are Australian citizens or who have already been granted permanent residency and who are fully vaccinated with an approved or recognised vaccine, the recent announcements mean that from 1  November 2021, it will no longer be necessary to secure an exemption to exit Australia. See:

However, under the current border measures, it remains a requirement that those Australian citizens and permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated (whether or not they are ordinarily resident in Australia) secure an outbound exemption before they are permitted to exit Australia. More information can be found here:

  • While State/Territory borders remain in flux with respect to interstate travel and entry exemptions requirements (depending on the traveller’s State/Territory of origin), we strongly suggest that anyone flying into Australia flies directly into the State/Territory which is intended to be their final destination. Relying on connecting flights and freedom of travel may require the need for double quarantine or the inability to enter the destination State/Territory. Please check regularly with the relevant State/Territory Health Department website for advice.