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Travel exemptions for temporary visa holders

Published: 12th January 2021

Following an increase in enquiries from temporary visa holders in Australia, the Department of Home Affairs has provided an update to Australian universities about travel exemptions for all temporary visa holders, including international students.

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Temporary visa holders in Australia can depart Australia at any time. However, there are only very limited circumstances under which they will be permitted to return. Temporary visa holders seeking to leave and then return, will generally only have their travel exemption approved if:

  • the applicant meets the requirements for an individual exemption from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions; and
  • they have a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia supported by relevant documentary evidence. For example, attending the funeral of a close family member overseas, visiting a close family member who is seriously or critically ill, or seeking necessary medical treatment not available in Australia.

The Department has also provided clarification around travel exemptions for international tertiary students. Travel exemptions for international tertiary students will generally be only approved in the following circumstances:

  • a student in their final two years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where they have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which commences within the next two months.
  • a PhD research student enrolled in an Australian education institution with supporting evidence from a Government agency outlining why the research is considered essential and in Australia’s national interest, as well as evidence of how their role is critical to the research.

It is important to note that any travel exemption granted is for a single visit to Australia only, unless specifically stated otherwise. Where a temporary visa holder has been granted a travel exemption for inwards travel to Australia, if they have a future need to depart Australia and re-enter, they are required to submit a new travel exemption request for each proposed journey.

Further information can be found on the Department’s webpage, including the Commissioner’s Guidelines which provide additional detail on the exemption process. 

Support and advice:

If you are currently located in Perth, we understand this may be a difficult time, especially if you are separated from family and friends in your home country. If you need support, we encourage you to contact myMurdoch AdviceCounselling or Guild Student Assist.