Australia has rolled out its vaccination plan and targeted to have 70% of its eligible population vaccinated by November 2021, and 80% in December 2021. If the plan can be timely implemented, we can expect Australian’s border to be open at the beginning of 2022 for international travelers who are fully vaccinated.

“When will Australia’s border open?” This is the question that many people including international students and worker have been asking us for the last 1 year. COVID-19 has put us in an unprecedented situation where people cannot travel inbound or outbound Australia. Many plans and studies are disrupted. Many families and couples are forced to live apart. Many Australian companies are in labour shortage as international workers are not allowed to travel to the country. Australia’s borders are currently closed and travel to Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption.

The Australian government has had a cautious approach towards how to deal with this wide-spread virus. It closed its border very soon and since March 2020 has placed very strict policies on travels domestically and internationally. With the current roll out of vaccination, the Australian Government has agreed on a 4-phase plan to gradually open its border to international travellers. The plan depends heavily on the percentage of vaccinated residents.

Australia has rolled out its vaccination plan and targeted to have 70% of its eligible population vaccinated by November 2021, and 80% in December 2021. If the plan can be timely implemented, we can expect Australian’s border to be open at the beginning of 2022 for international travelers who are fully vaccinated.

Phases triggered in a jurisdiction when the average vaccination rates across the nation have reached the threshold and that rate is achieved in a jurisdiction expressed as a percentage of the eligible population (16+), based on the scientific modelling conducted for the COVID-19 Risk Analysis and Response Task Force.

Australia may not fully open its borders to international travellers until the vaccine has been widely rolled out. Health Minister Greg Hunt says the goal is to have community vaccination in Australia by October 2021, and the first rounds of vaccinations have already been underway. You can check if you are eligible for the vaccine on the Department of Health website. Quarantines may still be a mandatory prevention measure throughout the year.

Qantas has recently announced that it is set to recommence international flights on 31 October 2021. Qantas plans to relaunch most of its long-haul international flight by using 11 of its 787-9 aircrafts as well as their A330s. This change has been brought about due to the government’s roll out of the  covid-19 vaccinations. However, this is still subject to change.

This news would be welcome by many as it will allow temporary and permanent migrants to return to Australia. However, some incoming travellers may still be required to undergo two-week mandatory quarantine.

Since the implementation of international travel ban in March 2020 all arrivals on visitor and temporary migration visas have been prevented (exemptions apply). The ban also prevented Australian citizens and permanent residents from departing Australia (exemptions apply)

Based on the announced policy the current plan (Between July to December 2020), is to lift the travel ban for Australian citizens, permanent residents, New Zealanders and some international students. However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg cautioned that the policy is subject to change due to the evolving situation of  coronavirus.

“The assumptions are that it very gradually starts to come back, that quarantine is applied, that you start potentially bringing in international students,” 

“Of course the environment with respect to the coronavirus is very fluid.”

“Decisions haven’t been taken about the start date for that.”

When can international students come back to Australia?

The Australian Government supports the return of international students to Australia. The return of international students is being led by state and territory governments in consultation with the Australian Government and education institutions in their jurisdictions. To support the scaling up of student arrivals in a COVID-safe way, the Government has developed protocol for international student arrivals.

There’s no date for when international students will be allowed to enter Australia after the Australian government lowered the number of international arrivals, prioritising returning Australian residents over other visitors.

Various plans for a pilot scheme to bring students in on charter flights and house them in quarantine have been drafted but only one small scheme has managed to get off the ground.

The key reason for this plan is to bring back international students who are stranded overseas. Continuous delay in bringing in students would affect universities drastically. The international education industry is the fourth-largest industry in Australia. Students bring approximately $39 billion into the Australian economy.

The budget forecast also predicted that the net overseas migration will fall to 31,000 in 2020-21. Net overseas migration is affected by international travel restrictions and constraints on the ability of applicants to meet visa application requirements, and is assumed to fall from 232,000 in 2018-19 to be 154,000 in 2019-20 and 31000 in 2020-2021.

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