Major change to Australia's visa travel exemptions comes into effect

The transition to an open international border continued on Friday with the vaccinated parents of citizens and permanent residents now allowed to apply for travel exemptions.

From November 1, the overseas parents will be allowed to enter the country quarantine-free in a move to reunite families separated by the nation's strict border closures amid the Covid pandemic.

"For more than 18 months many families with parents overseas have missed weddings, funerals, the birth of grandchildren and other significant events," Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said.

"I thank these families for their patience and their sacrifice."

Citizens and permanent residents can now apply to bring their overseas parents to Australia from November 1. Source: Getty
Citizens and permanent residents can now apply to bring their overseas parents to Australia from November 1. Source: Getty

Ms Andrews said it was made possible by the impressive vaccine rates seen across the country and that more border freedoms would be granted in the coming weeks.

Applications for an exemption can be made via the Department of Home Affairs website through its Travel Exemption Portal from Friday.

Parents can be biological, adoptive, legal, step and parent-in-laws, Ms Andrews said.

Ex-pats react with mixed views

Sydney resident Jonathan Cooper, who moved to Sydney from Scotland in 2015, told Yahoo News Australia there was light at the end of the tunnel after a "difficult" 20 months shut off from the rest of the world.

"For all of us who have been separated from our parents for so long, this is great news," he said.

Yet one British woman, who has been in Australia for nearly three years on a temporary skills shortage visa, told Yahoo News Australia it was another example of the government neglecting a large proportion of those who've suffered the most during the pandemic.

"Australia seems to have a priority on restricting its temporary residents in being reunited with their families after all this time," the 35-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

"While I'm frustrated, I'm also confused as to why Australia wants to hinder its already suffering job market?

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 18: The tail fins of Qantas aircraft parked at Sydney's Kingsford Smith International Airport on August 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Qantas Group has announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all 22,000 staff members. Frontline employees — including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers — will need to be fully vaccinated by November 15 and the remainder of employees by March 31. There will be exemptions for those who are unable to be vaccinated for documented medical reasons, which is expected to be very rare. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Qantas is ramping up its preparations for international flights returning. Source: Getty

"Expats just won't want to come anymore. Plenty of us have already packed up and left in preference of countries that give us more freedoms.

"We pay tax, we locked down when we had to and we contributed to the vaccination rate. In my opinion it's a very regressive move."

Skilled migration visa holders to return

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said students and skilled migration visa holders would be able to enter NSW in just a matter of weeks.

However other visa holders, such as working holiday, will have to wait longer despite a call to allow them back into the country to support depleted industries such as the retail and hospitality sectors.

Earlier on Friday Qantas brought forward its first flights to a raft of destinations as the border's reopening looms.

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