The Border Force Commissioner has been given powers to approve travel in compelling and compassionate situations. The Government has put a framework around that which includes critical infrastructure projects, health and essential services, split families and temporary visa holders with a prior established residence in Australia and who were caught offshore by the travel restrictions.

Since the initial lockdown in March, the list of exemptions has gradually expanded to the current list of exemptions which are :

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • person with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • person sponsored by an employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).  This list of occupations was emailed to clients 2 weeks ago.
  • entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

What is a critical skill ?

A critical skill Is deemed to be in one of the below areas:

  • Travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • Providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • With critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
  • Delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
  • Providing critical skills in religious or theology fields
  • Sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).
  • Whose entry would otherwise be in Australia’s national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.

The request for an exemption through Commissioner’s Discretion must be accompanied by:

  • Passenger details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, Australian residential address, Australian telephone number)
  • Case information: why this case should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption
  • Supporting statement: the request should be accompanied by a statement and evidence of how the individual meets one of the grounds for an exemption or excise of the Commissioner’s discretion listed above.

It is important that all travellers provide evidence to Immigration that they meet one of the exemptions above before travelling.

What does this mean for your business ?

If you need to bring a foreign national to Australia they must have a valid visa and approved waiver of the travel ban. The decision is subjective and there are approximately 20,000 – 25,000 applications being lodged each week. The likelihood of approval is extremely minimal so your first decision should be to look at whether the person can work remotely rather than apply to enter Australia.

For further clarification or information please do not hesitate to contact the Grace Mobility Team