Summary and recording of SACC Online Event 15 July – Navigating Australia’s visa system and travel exemptions in a COVID environment

For this SACC online event, we invited company member Absolute Immigration, who took us through Australia’s latest immigration and visa changes and the travel exemptions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 


The Q&A session was led by Mikael Dahlgren, CFO Alfa Laval and SACC Board Member and the event topic was presented by Jamie Lingham, Founder & CEO of Absolute Immigration, who covered the following areas/questions:

  • What does the Australian visa landscape look like at the moment?
  • What can companies do to get travel exemptions to enter Australia, especially when the occupation is not on the priority list?
  • Travel exemptions to exit Australia.
  • Predictions over the next 12 months for Australia’s visa program.

This was an interactive online event set up as a meeting with the opportunity for participants to ask questions live.


Below you will find more details about the specific areas discussed in the meeting.


Travel exemptions – outbound

Temporary visa holders do not need an exemption to depart Australia. They can leave at any time, as long as border restrictions in their home country allow them to return.

Please note that they will generally not be permitted to return to Australia.

Temporary visa holders seeking to leave and then return to Australia, may apply for an inwards exemption before they leave, however applications will generally only be approved if they meet the requirements for an individual exemption from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions, and they have a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia supported by relevant documentary evidence.

If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption. You must meet at least one of the following:

  • your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • your travel is for your business/employer
  • you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • you are travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer
  • you are travelling on compelling or compassionate grounds
  • your travel is in the national interest.

Travel exemption – inbound

You are automatically exempt from the travel restrictions and can enter Australia (without obtaining an individual exemption) if you are:

For all other persons who hold a visa, the Australian Border Force may grant you an individual exemption if you are:

  • a foreign national travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • a foreign national whose entry into Australia would be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • a foreign national with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • a foreign national sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)(see below)
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
  • a person who resides on a vessel that seeks safe port at the closest appointed port for reprovisioning or safety reasons for a limited duration, supported by the relevant State or Territory government where safe haven is sought
  • students who have been selected to take part in an International Student Arrivals Plan that has been approved by the relevant state or territory government, and endorsed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment as satisfying the Protocols and Preconditions for International Student Arrivals.
  • students who are in their final three years of study of a medical university degree, who have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. The placement must commence within the next two months, and provide medical services to the Australian public.
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with endorsement from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), and support from the relevant state or territory government health and education authorities. Further information regarding this process can be found at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
  • a student in your final two years of study of a dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which begins within the next two months.
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

Visas for onshore applicants

Visa applicants in Australia are currently experiencing slower processing times but the applications are still being processed.

Visas for offshore applicants

Visa applicants outside Australia are currently experiencing major delays and a lot of visa subclasses have been suspended until such time that the borders re-open. The Department continue to process 482 and 186 visas for those who fall on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). The PMSOL 41 occupations (ANZSCO code) are:

  1. Chief Executive or Managing Director (111111)
  2. Construction Project Manager (133111)
  3. Accountant (General) (221111)
  4. Management Accountant (221112)
  5. Taxation Accountant (221113)
  6. External Auditor (221213)
  7. Internal Auditor (221214)
  8. Surveyor (232212)
  9. Cartographer (232213)
  10. Other Spatial Scientist (232214)
  11. Civil Engineer (233211)
  12. Geotechnical Engineer (233212)
  13. Structural Engineer (233214)
  14. Transport Engineer (233215)
  15. Electrical Engineer (233311)
  16. Mechanical Engineer (233512)
  17. Mining Engineer (excluding Petroleum) (233611)
  18. Petroleum Engineer (233612)
  19. Medical Laboratory Scientist (234611)
  20. Veterinarian (234711)
  21. Orthotist or Prosthetist (251912)
  22. General Practitioner (253111)
  23. Resident Medical Officer (253112)
  24. Psychiatrist (253411)
  25. Medical Practitioners nec (253999)
  26. Midwife (254111)
  27. Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (254412)
  28. Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) (254415)
  29. Registered Nurse (Medical) (254418)
  30. Registered Nurse (Mental Health) (254422)
  31. Registered Nurse (Perioperative) (254423)
  32. Registered Nurses nec (254499)
  33. Multimedia Specialist (261211)
  34. Analyst Programmer (261311)
  35. Developer Programmer (261312)
  36. Software Engineer (261313)
  37. Software and Applications Programmers nec (261399)
  38. ICT Security Specialist (262112)
  39. Social Worker (272511)
  40. Maintenance Planner (312911)
  41. Chef (351311)


For more information please contact Absolute Immigration on 

1300 227 658 or email

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