Update on Travel Restrictions: COVID-19 - Omicron Variant

Original Publication Date - 29/11/2021

Travellers who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Mozambique, or Malawi in the last 14 days are not permitted to enter Australia, even if they hold a travel exemption, eligible visa or are seeking to enter under a Safe Travel Zone arrangement.

With the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents or their immediate family members entering Australia arriving from these areas must enter supervised quarantine for 14 days in line with state and territory requirements, irrespective of their vaccination status. Please refer to each state/territory entry requirements as they differ.

25 November 2021 Visa change announcements

The Australian government has just announced a range of visa changes that will affect, for the better - many Australian visa holders.

These changes have been announced to help relieve labour shortages as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns and to assist certain visa holders who have been unable to enter Australia due to the closure of its borders. This will bring some welcome relief to many businesses and visa holders by providing more flexible options and pathways to permanent residency.

Although the Government has made these announcements, we are waiting for the details of the legislation and policy. We will keep our clients updated on this as developments occur.

482 TSS Short-Term stream visa holders

  • Special concession that will allow 482 TSS visa holders under the Short-Term stream to apply for permanent residency
  • Concession appears to only apply to existing 482 Short-Term visa holders in Australia however we await further detail to be released

Under current legislation, TSS Short-Term visa holders are blocked from permanent residency, so this represents a unique opportunity for eligible visa holders.

457 visa holders

  • Special concession that will allow 'aged out' 457 visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement to apply for permanent residency

Permanent residency generally requires applicants to be aged under 45, so this provides older 457 visa holders a pathway to remain in Australia for the long term.

485 Temporary Graduate visa holders

  • Increase of visa length from 2 years to 3 years for 485 applicants who have completed a Masters by Coursework or Vocation Education and Training (VET) qualification
  • Extension of current measure for students to include time spent offshore studying online towards qualifying for a 458 visa 
  • Concession that will allow 485 visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia due to COVID-19 can apply for a replacement visa. This concession will apply to 485 visa holders whose expired after 1 Feb 2020. They will be able to re-apply for a new 485 visa of the same duration as their original 485 visa
  • Simplifying requirements for 485 visas for VET graduates - no detail yet released on how/what will be simplified

Skilled Regional Provisional visa holders (subclasses 489, 491 and 494)

  • Current and expired visas will be extended - this will provide visa holders with additional time to meet work requirements for permanent residency.
  • This concession will also apply to the approximately 9,000 such visa holders currently overseas - they will be permitted to enter Australia after 1 December 2021 (no travel exemption required) and will also be eligible for an extension on their visa.

Visitor visa holder

  • Visitor visa holders whose visas expire between 1 January - 30 June 2022 will have the visa application charge waived when applying for a new Visitor visa during this time period.


(1) https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/AlexHawke/Pages/visa-changes-to-support-the-reopening-of-australia.aspx

(2) https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/preparing-to-travel-to-australia-from-overseas