Eligible visa holders will be allowed to travel to Australia without applying for a government exemption from 1 December.
Australia’s international borders will be reopened to eligible visa holders from 1 December after being locked out for almost two years due to the pandemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday a range of fully-vaccinated visa holders will no longer be required to secure an exemption to travel into the country.
Those eligible for the rule change will include skilled migrants, international students, humanitarian as well as working holiday maker and provisional family visa holders.
Mr Morrison said their return marked an “important step” forward in Australia’s recovery.
“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back,” he told reporters.
“It’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enable us to do.”
The federal government has estimated 200,000 migrants holding these visas are expected to take up the offer between December and January.
It has been nearly two years since foreign nationals have been able to come to the country without having to secure a government exemption and enter mandatory quarantine.
While Australia’s international borders have been open since the beginning of November, only fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents and their families have been able to travel to the country without quarantining.
Under the new rules, the visa holders must have received a vaccine approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and provide proof of their vaccination status.
They will also be required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within three days of departure.
The visa holders will have to comply with the quarantine requirements in the state or territory upon their arrival.
Business groups and some states have also been urging a dramatic increase in migration in order to fill critical skills shortages and support the nation’s economy.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson has also said around 130,000 international students remain outside Australia.
Senate leader and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said he expected international students would be back for the start of the 2022 university year.
“Our intention is to keep progressing as quickly as we can – whilst doing so as safely as we can,” he told reporters.
“[This] will enable us to move into the next stage of reopening to international students … [and] to get essential workers back into the country.”
The impending announcements come after Australia welcomed tourists from Singapore on Sunday, following the start of a quarantine-free travel bubble between the two nations.
Australia is also welcoming back fully vaccinated citizens from Japan and the Republic of Korea from 1 December.
Under these arrangements, citizens of Japan and the Republic of Korea who hold a valid Australian visa will be able to travel from their home country quarantine-free without needing to seek a travel exemption.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said allowing more people to return to Australia from overseas would help bolster the economy.
“We want to allow skilled migrants to come to our country as well as international students sooner than later,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.
“International students are worth some $40 billion to our economy, and we know that there are workforce shortages out there and skilled workers can play a key part.”
The changes follow ongoing advocacy from visa holders about the personal cost of being unable to enter Australia since the border closure was imposed in March last year.
A full list of visa holders eligible for the rule change are listed below.
Subclass 200 – Refugee visa
Subclass 201 – In-country Special Humanitarian visa
Subclass 202 – Global Special Humanitarian visa
Subclass 203 – Emergency Rescue visa
Subclass 204 – Woman at Risk visa
Subclass 300 – Prospective Marriage visa
Subclass 400 – Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa
Subclass 403 – Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (other streams, including Australian Agriculture Visa stream)
Subclass 407 – Training visa
Subclass 408 – Temporary Activity visa
Subclass 417 – Working Holiday visa
Subclass 449 – Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) visa
Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa
Subclass 461 – New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa
Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday visa
Subclass 476 – Skilled – Recognised Graduate visa
Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa
Subclass 485 – Temporary Graduate visa
Subclass 489 – Skilled – Regional (Provisional) visa
Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa
Subclass 500 – Student visa
Subclass 580 – Student Guardian visa (closed to new applicants)
Subclass 590 – Student Guardian visa
Subclass 785 – Temporary Protection visa
Subclass 790 – Safe Haven Enterprise visa
Subclass 870 – Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
Subclass 988 – Maritime Crew visa
Current vaccines and dosages accepted for the purposes of travel are:
Two doses at least 14 days apart of:
Bharat Biotech Covaxin
Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for 18-60 year olds).
Or one dose of:
Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.