I think….or at least I hope….that all of our clients are aware that there has been a travel ban in place to Australia since March 2020 due to COVID-19 / Coronavirus.
Exemptions to this rule? Travel ban waivers?
To quote Prime Minister Scott Morrison:
“…with exemptions only for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, including spouses, legal guardians and dependants.” from https://www.pm.gov.au/media/border-restrictions
So there it is! In the words of a Prime Minister, and as we all know that politicians never lie (cough, cough, cough), so this is in fact gospel!
The following people are able to avail of COVID-19 related travel ban exemptions:
- Australian Citizens
- Permanent Residents
- Spouses (both by marriage or by de facto relationship)
- Legal guardians of children who are citizens and permanent residents
- Dependent children (not 27 year old tambay son!)
So do you qualify for the travel ban waiver / travel ban exemption?
The question is: Is the travel ban waiver automatic?
This would be a bit like saying “Well, I’m married! Where’s my automatic partner visa?”
Just like with an Australian partner visa application, the Department needs convincing! Simply claiming to be in a de facto relationship or claiming to be in a committed and genuine spousal relationship because you have a marriage certificate, it doesn’t cut it with the Department. Never has! I guess we would all be the same if we had to deal with charlatans, liars and manipulators on a daily basis like they do! There are people who will do absolutely anything to get into Australia, and they need to sort the wheat from the chaff!
So no, it’s not automatic. It requires an application for a waiver of the travel ban to be allowed to travel to Australia from Philippines at this time, and it needs to include evidence and a convincing argument that you do fit the definition of “spouse”! No, not as extensive as a partner visa application obviously. But not just “We are, and here’s the certificate!” either.
HINT! There are many successful holders of Australian tourist visas and partner visas out there who used the expertise of Down Under Visa for those visa applications. Best advice is to use Down Under Visa for your tourist visa applications AND the travel ban waiver application! No extra cost! All part of the service, as you would expect.
We’re married and applied for a partner visa. Do we still need a tourist visa?
There is a bit of confusion out there about travel ban exemptions, and a few people have assumed that they can travel from Philippines to Australia without a tourist visa!
Simple answer? No, you cannot!
If you already have a partner visa granted? Or if you are an Australian Citizen? Then obviously no visa is required. However anyone else needs a visa. That’s written in law! No non-citizen travels to Australia without a visa!
So in fact you need two things:
- Visa to Australia (tourist visa, if no other visa exists at this time!)
- Permission from the Department to travel (because they believe you are a genuine immediate family member)
If your Filipina spouse has this, yes she can get on the next available plane!
NOTE that the Australian Embassy in Manila Philippines is organising fairly regular flights from Manila to various Australian cities. They also supply documentation that she may use to get past various quarantine checkpoints along the way as part of the Community Quarantine that’s in place at present in the Philippines.
The issue of “pending partner visa applications”
There is another bit of confusion out there at the moment, and the confusion IS understandable because it hasn’t been spelled out in social media posts. Australia wants to protect its citizens from COVID-19 infected people, so does the Philippines. Australia makes it hard for Filipino citizens to get into Australia, and the Philippines makes it hard for its own citizens to leave!
The Philippines are basically OK about Filipino citizens WITH permanent visas to leave! Citizens on temporary visas, they are less enthusiastic! The Australian Embassy officials have made their appeals to the Philippines Bureau of Immigration on this matter, but have received no conclusive answer. The Philippines Government, as a sovereign nation DOES have the right, MAY refuse outbound travel to Filipino citizens if they so choose.
So no, there is no guarantee that Filipino citizens may travel even with a travel ban exemption letter from the Australian Government.
OUR experience….and the experience of the Embassy themselves……is that only a very small number of Filipino citizens have been refused travel by the Philippines Bureau of Immigration! Very few! So yes it’s a risk….just like applying for a tourist visa is, for that matter. But it’s a very small risk.
And those who have traveled to Australia, no not all of them have had pending partner visa applications. We know that from our own experience. Note this article as an example of such a couple.
Want to bring your sweetheart from Philippines to Australia?