It’s been a long and tiresome road but Australia is finally bringing the last semblances of normality back with the announcement that international borders will soon be reopening for visa holders.
International borders reopened at the start of November for Australian citizens and select non-citizens but for the majority of non-Aussies, the country is still shut.
However, that’s all set to change as Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement this morning that international borders will now be open for foreign visa holders as well as the establishment of travel bubbles with Japan and South Korea.
It’s part of a scaled opening of the country, in alignment with phase D of the four-phase reopening plan set out in July, as Australia has now reached the 80% double-dose vaccination milestone for eligible people.
From 1 December, the PM has said that fully vaccinated international students, eligible visa holders, and tourists from Japan and South Korea will be allowed to travel into the country. This is in addition to the travel bubbles already established between Australia and New Zealand as well as Singapore.
“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back, it’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enable us to do,” Morrison said.
Those on “eligible visas” means those who have skilled worker visas as Australia seeks to attract international talent to deal with the looming jobs crisis that some have dubbed ‘the great resignation‘. People on refugee and working holiday visas will also be allowed back into the country.
Currently, Australia has 79,600 places available in its skilled worker visa category, as well as 13,750 in its humanitarian programme. There is no cap on international students.
Australia’s borders closed in March 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic and had remained shut until this month when they were finally opened to citizens and their families.
While international travel is technically back on the cards, there are still major disruptions and COVID restrictions in place for those wishing to travel. Airlines have warned that international travel may not settle down to pre-pandemic normality until well into 2022 and potentially beyond.