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There is a travel ban to Australia at the moment. It would be a serious understatement to say “I’m sure everyone is aware of it.” Well, actually we still get the occasional assessment from someone who seems unaware, or maybe they’re just hopeful that us Migration Agents have a way of making the impossible happen. But how easy is it to get a travel ban exemption? Can we make magic happen?


Australian travel ban exemptions


Well, no. We have to work within the rules and certainly within the law, and within a Code of Conduct which prevents us from making unrealistic claims. 

So yes, to the average traveler it’s not possible to get into Australia at the moment whilst travel bans are in place. Bringing your girlfriend over? Bringing your wife’s sister? It won’t happen right now. 


Exemptions – What are grounds for an exemption to the travel ban?


Australian Citizens, NZ Citizens usually resident in Australia and Permanent Residents. These people do NOT need to apply for an exemption. They just need to organise a flight, and away they go. And by “permanent residents”, that includes those with Subclass 309, 100, 820 and 801. And it includes 101, 102 and 445 child visa holders! No exemptions needed. Free to enter.


So who needs the exemption?


Immediate family members of an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident!

That means:

  • Spouse through marriage
  • Spouse through genuine de facto partnership
  • Dependent children
  • Legal guardians of children of Citizens and PR’s.


NOTE that Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa holders at this stage are not included in the list of those who may claim an exemption. Grossly unfair, yes. No arguments here. They say that it is possible to still apply for an exemption, but they give no examples of reasonable grounds. And I honestly can’t think of any, unless you somehow claimed you were also in a de facto relationship. I don’t like your chances though, as I will explain.


Applying for a Travel Ban Exemption – Easy?


No. No, they are not I’m sorry to say. Are we generally successful? Yes, but definitely not easy.

Note that the travel ban exemptions are not being handled by the “Immigration” people. It’s not the usual group of trained and experienced case officers who know how to assess genuine spousal relationships. This is the BORDER FORCE people. This is the uniformed guard-types you see at the airports. Different section, and whilst once again we’re getting most of our application approved I won’t say it’s easy.

So an assumption that a marriage certificate or a registered relationship certificate will suffice, this will see a speedy refusal. If they’re not convinced, you will get an email containing the following:


I am however not satisfied that you are an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident, nor have you provided sufficient evidence that circumstances are compassionate or compelling to warrant further consideration at this time. Therefore, you will not be able to travel until travel restrictions are lifted.


What do we do when we receive these? We apply again! We use a stronger argument. And most of the time we’re successful as I said. Remember though that convincing others of the validity and genuineness of spousal relationships is how we earn our living, and we’re very good at it.


What if you want a tourist visa only, and want a travel ban exemption?


It can be done. But it’s more than just a tourist visa application. It will require far more than we will normally ask for in evidence of your relationship. Yes, as part of a tourist visa application we show them that you have a relationship as proof that the applicant has a solid reason to visit Australia and is unlikely to overstay and breach visa conditions. Definitely. But it’s not the same as convincing Border Force that she is a genuine “immediate family member”.

In truth? Bluntly?

A partner visa application and a tourist visa application. The hardest to get granted is the TRAVEL BAN EXEMPTION! 


Want to come to Australia from Philippines? Be prepared for some work!


These are tough times. We all know that. We’ve all been anywhere from mildly inconvenienced to having our lives seriously disrupted. Having curfews. Being confined to home. Losing income. And certainly being stuck apart from loved ones is right up there. It’s been 6 months +, and we’re all still here. Remarkable how we’ve all coped and adjusted, really. 

Just realise that if you want to be together it’s no more a “right” now than it ever was, and you need to be prepared to do whatever it takes. We’re happy to help, and we’re good at what we do. And as per usual, we never ask anything of you which is not 100% necessary.



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Jeff Harvie is a Registered Migration Agent from Australia, but resident in Philippines since 2010 with his Filipina wife Mila and large extended family. Experienced with the Philippines culture, cross-cultural relationships and bureaucracy as well as Australian visas and Australian Migration Law, he writes with authority and fortunately with enough informality and humour that the average Aussie gets it! Down Under Visa specialises in visas for Australians in relationships with ladies and gents from Philippines, Thailand, China and Vietnam. Read MORE
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  1. harold coventry

    i want to bring my fiancee here from the phillipines to get married

    • Jeff Harvie

      You won’t be able to do that now due to the travel ban, sorry. You will need to either marry her in Philippines when you can, or wait until the travel bans are over.


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