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BREAKING NEWS: Australia Border Reopen for Students in 2021

Australia Border Reopen for Double-Vaccinated Student Visa (Subclass 500) holders from December 2021

Since 20 March 2020, Australia has restricted its border to temporary visa holders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The restriction has left international students stranded in their home countries in uncertainty. Many families have been separated. International students are concerned that if they leave Australia to reunite with their family, they will not be able to return due to the restrictions. If COVID-19 has changed your life as an international student, the official announcement from the Australian Immigration on 22 November 2021 regarding Australia border reopen may be our ray of hope.

The Australia border reopens for fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents, and eligible visa holders in December 2021 without applying for a travel exemption. Previously, only Australian citizens and permanent residents could enter without needing to apply for a travel exemption.

The Australian government officially announced this good news through the Department of Home Affairs on 22 November 2021.

What Does Fully Vaccinated Mean?

fully vaccinated students return

Australia considers you to be fully vaccinated if you have received a course of vaccination approved or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The recognition includes mixed doses. Current Vaccines and Travel Doses include:

Two doses at least 14 days apart:

  • AstraZeneca Vakhshevriya
  • AstraZeneca Covishield
  • Pfizer / Biotech Comirnaty
  • Moderna spikevax
  • Sinovac coronavac
  • Bharat Biotech Kovaxin
  • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for adults 18-60 years old).

Or one dose:

  • Johnson & Johnson / Janssen-Cilag COVID vaccine.

The TGA is studying other COVID-19 vaccines that could be recognised for future inbound travel to Australia. The most recent information on approved and recognised vaccines is available on the TGA website.

To be considered fully vaccinated, the vaccination process must be at least 7 days after the last dose of the vaccine. As long as all vaccines are approved or recognised by the TGA, the combination vaccine counts as being fully vaccinated.

If you have not been vaccinated with the above dose or schedule, you do not meet “complete vaccination” Australian definition. This includes cases where the dosing schedule or vaccine eligibility varies by country of origin. There are some exceptions to this, as outlined below.

Stop worrying about your study journey in Australia after the Australia borders reopen. Speak to one of our education consultants for FREE here.

Vaccination Arrangement and Exceptions for Children

vaccinated children

Your Student Visa (Subclass 500) will allow your children to accompany you, and come with you once the Australia borders reopen. Find information for them below:

Passengers with acceptable proof they cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons, and children under 12 years old can access the same travel arrangements as fully vaccinated passengers.

Arrangements have also been made to allow unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 12-17 to travel with fully vaccinated parents or guardians. For quarantine arrangements, please check the traveller’s state or territory information.

If the child travels with an adult family member who has not been vaccinated, the entire family group will be subject to managed quarantine and passenger limits.

Children aged under 12 years count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes. Their passport will be used as proof of age.

Passports will also be used as proof of age for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated 12-17-year-olds.

Further Reading: Must-Read! Your Options After Student Dependent Visa Refusal In Australia

How to Show that I am fully Vaccinated?

fully vacinated students return to australia

Vaccination certificate when leaving or entering Australia

If you have been vaccinated in Australia, you will need to show your International COVID-19 Certificate of Vaccination (ICVC) to airline staff. The ICVC is made available to you in PDF format for printing or electronically on your telephone.

If you have been vaccinated abroad and do not have an ICVC, you will need to provide a foreign vaccination card that meets all of the requirements listed on the Australian Passport Office website.

Obtaining a vaccination certificate, including an international COVID-19 vaccination certificate, does not mean that you are fully vaccinated. For example, a vaccination certificate may indicate that you have only been vaccinated once with a double vaccination. If your vaccination certificate does not prove that you meet the definition of full Australian vaccination, you will not be able to use it to enter or leave Australia. It is your responsibility to know your vaccination status and ensure that your vaccination certificate supports eligibility for a round trip to Australia when the Australia borders reopen.

To come to Australia, you also have to comply with all other requirements. Contact us now and get FREE student visa consultation with our study specialists!

What if You Cannot Be Vaccinated Due to a Medical Condition?

special medical conditions cannot be vaccinated

If you are traveling once the Australia borders reopen, and cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, you will need to provide proof of medical exemption. You should also check all requirements, in particular quarantine requirements, in the state or territory you are traveling to.

Read Also: Western Australia Border Open in 2022

You will need to provide a medical certificate stating that you cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine due to your health condition; the medical certificate must include the following information:

  • Your name (must match your travel document)
  • Date of medical consultation and details of your doctor
  • Clearly admit that you have the details of the disease, which means that you cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine (vaccinations are prohibited).

If you get a vaccine that is not approved or recognised by the TGA, you should not be certified in this category, nor can you be deemed to have been vaccinated while travelling.

If you plan on traveling onwards to or through a different state or territory when you arrive in Australia, you need to check domestic travel restrictions. States and territories can apply their own travel restrictions.

You are responsible for complying with travel restrictions and requirements that apply to you based on your state.

We understand that the extensive travel requirements when the Australia border reopen might be overwhelming, and we are here to help! Contact us now.

Do Australia borders reopen only for people coming to Australia?

When the Australia border reopens, if you plan to enter Australia by using your Student Visa for the first time, re-enter Australia after being stuck in your home country, or leave Australia to reunite with your family after a while, it will be possible. It will be helpful to ensure you understand the travel and quarantine arrangements in place based on your destination.


Australia quarantine requirements

Depending on the state or territory you are travelling to, you may be eligible to relax your quarantine requirements when you return to Australia.

You must comply with the quarantine requirements of the state or territory you arrived at and the other states or territories you plan to travel to. Limits are subject to change without notice.

Travellers returning to Australia after the Australian border reopen can only enter and travel between New South Wales, Victoria, and ACT without quarantine.

If you wish to travel to another state or territory, you may not be permitted to enter the country or may be subject to a quarantine period.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the entry and quarantine arrangements of the destination state or territory are met. If you arrive in a state or territory without meeting immigration requirements, you may be responsible for the cost of quarantine.

See state and territory information for travellers to confirm quarantine arrangements.

NOTES: Australian citizens, permanent residents or their immediate family members who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Mozambique, or Malawi in the last 14 days must enter supervised quarantine in the country for 14 days in line with state and territory requirements, whether or not they are vaccinated.

Further reading: News: Student Financial Hardship Support For Australian International Students During Pandemic!

What Does This Recent Announcement Mean for International Students?

international students return to australia

The recent announcement means that international students don’t need to wait for the pilot programs to return to Australia, as long as they hold a valid Student Visa (Subclass 500), and are fully vaccinated. Students need to go through the following travel procedures to enter Australia:

  1. A valid Australian (student) visa
  2. A valid vaccination certificate recognised by the TGA, which must be legible and clear in English
  3. Indicate your vaccination status with a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the TGA, including dates of administration
  4. Include personal information (name, date of birth, etc.) that matches your student visa/passport details
  5. The PCR test results were negative within 3 days before the flight departure
  6. Please fill out this form 72 hours before you travel to Australia. The ATD contains a declaration on your vaccination status that is important for you and other important health information
  7. Incoming passenger card for crossing the border.

Please note that the quarantine requirements and testing rules and forms when entering Australia are subject to the guidelines of each state and territory.

Currently, only the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria are accepting international flights for international students. Those looking to travel interstate will have to adhere to domestic travel restrictions and quarantine rules. See the detailed information about each state as follows.


New South Wales announced that they would allow international students to return to their university in December as part of a pilot program. However, with this recent news, all students can now return to NSW without being quarantined in this month of December 2021. Check for more information here.

For further details on the initial pilot plan of NSW, also read: International Students Coming Back to Australia by Christmas, Yet Vaccine Requisite Blocks Some Out


As announced, only fully vaccinated international students vaccinated with the TGA-approved vaccine will be admitted to Victoria from December and do not require quarantine. However, all travellers flying to Melbourne will also need to complete an international passenger arrival permit and download the Service Victoria app. For more information on students returning to Victoria, see here.


Queensland will also allow students back in as of December 2021. However students are still required to quarantine when arriving in Queensland and it will be until the 90% of the state’s population (above 12) has been fully vaccinated. There is no requirement for students returning to Queensland to complete a quarantine period. Before the new studies began, the initial plan was to have quarantine at Wellcamp, the Queensland regional accommodation centre in Toowoomba. However, these plans may change in the coming weeks. For more information on the Queensland Student Arrival Program, please visit this link.

Australian Capital Territory

The Canberra government has announced that fully vaccinated international students should return early next year before the start of the academic year without needing to be quarantined.

South Australia

In late December, South Australia announced that all returning students would not need to be quarantined from the beginning of the new school year. This is conditioned on SA reaching a double vaccination rate of 90% (aged 12+) and is expected to be achieved by 21 December. Every person arriving in South Australia from overseas or interstate must fill out an EntryCheckSA application. You can complete this form up to 14 days before your planned arrival, and it is recommended you complete your application at least 72 hours before your planned arrival. More information on returning international students to Adelaide, including FAQs, can be found here.


The Tasmanian government announced that they would be open to international and domestic travellers from 15 December. If you have tested negative for COVID-19 and have been vaccinated within 72 hours before flying to Tasmania, no need to isolate. Students returning to Tasmania will be able to find information with the Tasmanian government’s education website here.

Western Australia

Western Australian government has set a goal to achieve 90% vaccination of its population by 2022. They are planning to let international students back into Perth by February 2022, under the federal government’s eased border restrictions. Western Australian health authorities have announced that international students coming to Western Australia will need to prove they have been vaccinated to enter the state. The Western Australian Health Department said in a statement that international students would need to provide proof of vaccination before they could come to the state.

Besides Student Visa holders, Australia border reopens for other visa holders without needing to apply for a Travel Exemption. See below:

  • Subclass 200 – Refugee visa
  • Subclass 201 – In-country Special Humanitarian visa
  • Subclass 202 – Global Special Humanitarian visa
  • Subclass 203 – Emergency Rescue visa
  • Subclass 204 – Woman at Risk visa
  • Subclass 300 – Prospective Marriage visa
  • Subclass 400 – Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa
  • Subclass 403 – Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (other streams, including Australian Agriculture Visa stream)
  • Subclass 407 – Training visa
  • Subclass 408 – Temporary Activity visa
  • Subclass 417 – Working Holiday visa
  • Subclass 449 – Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) visa
  • Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa
  • Subclass 461 – New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa
  • Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday visa
  • Subclass 476 – Skilled – Recognised Graduate visa
  • Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa
  • Subclass 485 – Temporary Graduate visa
  • Subclass 489 – Skilled – Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 494 – Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa
  • Subclass 580 – Student Guardian visa (closed to new applicants)
  • Subclass 590 – Student Guardian visa
  • Subclass 785 – Temporary Protection visa
  • Subclass 790 – Safe Haven Enterprise visa
  • Subclass 870 – Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
  • Subclass 988 – Maritime Crew visa

Note: Additional visa subclasses may be added over time.

This is in addition to the exemptions outlined on: Travel restrictions and exemptions.

Australia border reopen

We expect more news in the coming weeks regarding easing border restrictions and international student travel programs. With the recent news, experts predict a significant increase in student services in Australia in the coming months and a possible backlog in student visa applications in the coming months. Here is what we advise:

  • Apply for an Australian Student Visa if you haven’t done so already. This will make sure that you are prepared to travel to Australia when it is possible.
  • If you already have a valid student visa and are studying online in another country due to COVID-19, then the time spent on the online course can count towards the student’s time spent in Australia for your post-study work visa. It may be wise to start checking flight availability information for earlier next year.
  • If you haven’t planned your study yet, this moment would be the best time to start. Talk to our consultants here, and plan your study journey as early as possible, free of charge!

What We Can Do to Help You?

Are you a Student Visa holder looking to continue your study journey from Australia, OR are you planning to apply for your Student Visa after the good news?! Here is how we can help you!

  • Along with our in-house Registered Migration Agents, ONE derland Consulting, we will be able to give you legal and professional advice on your chances of reaching your study and career goals in Australia.
  • We can guide you through each step of securing enrollment and Student Visa worry-free! Get our completed document checklist tailored to your circumstances and goals in Australia.
  • Our experiences for more than 12 years in providing services for our clients who want to migrate through the study pathway to Australia make us au fait with the latest Australian immigration regulations and more!

Read Also: You’ll Be Sorry If You Miss this Guide To Understanding Australia Student Visa Requirements

Free Student Visa Consultation with our Consultants

You may be one of the first international students who can finally start your study journey here once Australia border reopen! If you are unsure of what the next step to prepare your dreamed education in Australia, or if you want to discuss your visa and enrolment or career development matters, book a FREE consultation with one of our education specialists or contact us, education ONE Australia, through email at [email protected] or via phone at 1300 083 663.

We are experienced with helping students from many different countries. We will be delighted to assist you. Our Career Development Consultants will guide you, no matter how complex your circumstances are.

What are you waiting for? Contact us right now, and we can’t wait to see you in this beautiful country!

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