Australia Reopening Its Borders to Fully Vaccinated International Students on December 1

Great news for international students studying at post-secondary institutions in Australia! The federal government of Australia has announced that the country’s borders will reopen for fully vaccinated students with a valid student visa on December 1, 2021.

This news means that students who meet eligibility criteria will be able to enter Australia without requiring a travel exemption.

Illustration if airplane taking off

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to enter Australia, international students must: 

  • Be fully vaccinated with a completed dosage of a vaccine approved or recognized by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  • Hold a valid student visa 
  • Provide proof of vaccination status
  • Present a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken within three days of departure

According to the Australian Government, “Australia considers you to be fully vaccinated if you have completed a course of a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognized vaccine.” For more information on what it means to be fully vaccinated in Australia, please refer to the Australian Government’s Department of Health website

To date, the states of New South Wales and Victoria, as well as the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), have rolled out quarantine-free arrival plans for fully vaccinated students. 

According to the announcement, “Travellers to Australia must comply with the quarantine requirements in the state or territory of their arrival, and any other state or territory to which they plan to travel.”

International students are recommended to refer to the quarantine requirements of the state or territory of their arrival and that of where they intend to study.

Changes to Visa Settings

On November 25, further support for international students was announced in the form of changes to visa settings which “will also provide much-needed flexibility for international students as they set to return to Australia.” These changes include:

  • Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions will be able to apply for a replacement visa. This will allow current and former Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders whose visas expired on or after [February 1, 2020,] to re-apply for a new subclass 485 visa of the same duration as their original visa.”
  • “[Increasing] the length of stay on the Temporary Graduate visa from two to three years for Masters by coursework graduates, matching that of Masters by research graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two-year Temporary Graduate visa.”
  • “[Extending] existing measures for students and temporary graduates to recognize time spent offshore studying online to count towards qualifying for a temporary graduate visa.”

Read the release for more information.

Illustration of Australia school

A Major Milestone

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back, it’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enable us to do,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “It’ll mean a lot for the economies of our country who need those workers and want to see those students return.”

The news will be welcomed by the over 130,000 international students with Australian visas who are eager to study in person. 

“This is great news which will give heart to more than 130,000 international students with visas waiting to return to Australia,” said Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia. “They want nothing more than to re-join their classmates in Australia. We look forward to further detail so we can work quickly to get students back for [the] first semester next year.”

Ending a Period of Uncertainty

“This announcement ends uncertainty for thousands of international students looking to return to Australia to enjoy the benefits of Australia’s world-class higher education system,” said Alec Webb, executive director of the Regional Universities Network, whose member universities include ApplyBoard partner schools. “From today, international students have a clear pathway to arriving on our shores. Regional communities, businesses, and universities are incredibly enthusiastic and excited to welcome prospective and returning international students back to Australia’s regions.”

Please refer to the Australian Government’s website for the latest official news, updates, and advice on COVID-19.