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Australian Border Updates

A Timeline for International Students

When the coronavirus started to scatter across the globe, Australia is one the fastest countries to close their borders to international visitors. Implemented since March 2020, such exempts Australian citizens, immediate family members, residents, and travellers coming from New Zealand for the past 14 days. Up to this date, Australian borders are still closed and re-opening updates are still halted nonetheless of nationwide COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Now, take a look below of the border timeline to keep you on track from recent to previous updates.


YEAR 2021


18 June

South Australia’s pilot plan to bring international students back to the state has been approved by the Australian federal government.

One of the Commonwealth’s pre-conditions for when students arrive is that the state border must be open for domestic travel, noting the potential need for localised closures related to jurisdictionally defined COVID-19 hotspots.

10 June

Dominic Perrottet, NSW Treasurer announce that a pilot plan for allowing international students to enter Australia will take place as early as July this year. Roughly 250 [500 by the end of the year] students will undergo quarantine per fortnight in selected and approved student accommodations. Factors such as travel costs, security, and accommodation will be shouldered by the university sector in accordance to the proposed quarantine system. However, every individual university will decide whether the students will pay for their own flights or not. Such plan is already approved by the NSW Health and NSW Police but still subjected to federal government’s final decision.


In an SBS News interview last May 9, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stated that the borders will remain closed until the middle of 2022. However, temporary and permanent visa holders might be able to do a slow return and specifically, international students may able to fly back to Australia by late 2021. Recently, South Australia might be open again to international students with two-week quarantine restrictions at the Parafield Airport. This plan has been approved by the South Australia’s Chief Public Health Officer in which to be endorsed by the federal government.


Victorian universities have expressed their concerns due to economic burden brought by the border restrictions to international students. The possibility of funding the students’ quarantine and medical needs has also been raised in compliance to the statement of the Australian Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, “We are open to considering a pilot of international students coming into Oz but only if (A) the quarantine beds are in addition to those used for returning Aussies; and (B) the state’s CMO [Chief Medical Officer] gives all clear. To date, we have received no such proposals.”


The shutting down of international borders was set to conclude on March 17 2021, but on 2 March, the Australian Government announced that it would remain closed for at least another three months until June 17, 2021. On March 14, there has been reported claims that all of the international visitors heading to Australia will be directed to Singapore first for quarantine purposes. However, the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign affairs denied these implications, but stated that Singapore is in discussions with Australia regarding such matter.


The Australian Government was not going to grant visa extensions to Temporary Graduate visa holders (Subclass 485) to those currently not in Australia, according to Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke.


On January 19, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly stated, “[As] the first vaccinations rollout in a few weeks’ time, Australia is not going to change everything back to normal. We are in such an envious position at the moment compared with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, I think international border changes are probably going to be one of the last things to change, rather than the first.”

YEAR 2020


On November 30, students coming from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, and Vietnam arrived in Northern Territory, Australia as part of Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) pilot program.


Graduates affected by travel restrictions has been granted visa concessions by the Australian Government due to pandemic, in which they met all the requirements, graduates are allowed to be granted a Temporary Graduate visa outside the country.


On March 20, Australian Government announced that their borders are closed to all non-citizens and non-residents to prevent the coronavirus outbreak in the country.