October 29, 2021

Australian Immigration News October 2021

Travel Exemptions, Singapore Travel Bubble, International Students, and more

Mark Walsh

Welcome to a breakdown of the important news in Australian immigration for October 2021. News this month is dominated by relaxed rules for COVID-19 travel exemptions, as the country prepares to enter a new phase in a post-COVID-19 world.

1. Updates to travel exemptions

October has been a busy month for travel exemption announcements and implementation. Here’s a breakdown of the changes:

Parents of Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents

There is exciting news for non-Australian parents of Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents. From 1 November 2021, parents are now recognised as ‘immediate family’ and will be granted travel exemptions to come to Australia on a visitor visa.

Parents will still need to follow entry protocols as per other exempt travellers. Requirements include:

  • Proof of accepted COVID-19 vaccination,
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test (within 72 hours of flight),
  • Completed travel declaration, and
  • A valid visa to enter Australia

 Quarantine may or may not be required, depending on each state or territory

Overseas Travel for Vaccinated Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents

From 1 November, fully-vaccinated Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents wishing to travel overseas will be permitted to travel overseas without need for an exemption. Returning Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents will need to comply with quarantine arrangements as prescribed by each state or territory.

Quarantine-free flights Australia and New Zealand

From 19 October 2021, quarantine-free flights between Australia and the South island of New Zealand were resumed. Quarantine-free flights between Australia and the North Island of New Zealand are still suspended. No travel exemptions are required; however, proof of accepted vaccination and a pre-departure COVID-19 test is necessary.

 In all cases, inbound travellers to Australia will need to complete an ‘Australian Travel Declaration’. More information about travel exemptions and other COVID-19 related requirements can be found on the Department of Home Affairs’ website.


2.  Reciprocal Travel Bubble with Singapore

 The Singapore government has announced that from 8 November, fully-vaccinated Australians can take advantage of quarantine-free flights into the country. The move is part of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme and has been greeted with enthusiasm by both Australian and Singapore tourism organisations.


3. International Student Visa arrivals by the end of the year

There is a sense of relief for many international students stranded outside Australia, as the NSW government has received support from the Australian government to allow a limited number of student arrivals from December 2021. Under the NSW Student Arrivals Plan 250 international students will be permitted to return each fortnight.

While the news is encouraging, some question whether simply opening Australia’s international borders will be enough to entice students to return.


4. Around 680 Afghans deemed eligible for asylum in Australia

Since the withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul in August, around 26,000 refugee/ humanitarian visa application have been received by the Australian government. Around 680 'Locally Engaged Employees' (LEEs) have been deemed refugees by the Australian government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated that Australia will not likely lift its refugee intake cap, even amidst calls for an increase to 20,000 places for Afghan's fleeing the Taliban. More information on Australia’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.


5. Boost in participation in Adult Migration Education Program

Reforms to the Adult Migration Education Program (AMEP) launched in April 2021 have resulted in a surge in enrolments. The AMEP program provides free English lessons to eligible migrants. However, the reforms have made the program even more attractive. The reforms include:

  • removal of the 510-hour cap of free English tuition
  • raising of the eligibility threshold for applicants (from ‘functional English’ to ‘vocational English’)
  • removal of time limits on application to enrol for migrants in Australia on 1 October 2020 

The reforms have resulted in a 38% increase in enrolments, compared to the same period in the previous year of reporting. If you're a migrant interested in free English lessons, more information about the AMEP program and the recent reforms can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Photo by Rudy Dong on Unsplash


The information provided in this article or anywhere on this website is of a general nature, it does not relate to your specific circumstance. This general information must not be used to form any assessment or opinion on individual visa eligibility. For an individual assessment you must contact us for a consultation session to confirm if you are eligible for any visa. 


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