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Australian borders are still closed in November 2021


Hello to all Down Under Visa readers, both clients (new and old) and anyone looking at starting the visa process. Let’s talk about the state and status of the Australian borders in November 2021!

I haven’t written a new article in a while, and I apologize for that. Work pressure plus just the simple fact sometimes it’s hard to know what to write without repeating myself. Sometimes there is a lot of exciting news or there are changes or recurring issues that make it necessary to inform everyone. Other times? Things can be a little up in the air, and I think I can say that right now is just that! Changes in the wind re the Australian borders, but NOT on paper yet!


Department of Home Affairs Changes – Travel Bans and the Australian Borders


What has NOT happened!


Contrary to rumours, no the Australian borders are not open yet! NOT open to Filipinos coming into Australia, unless they have an existing travel ban exemption granted or they have a visa like a Subclass 309 (Offshore Partner Visa) where they don’t need one!

There is a lot of talk, and a lot of people quite justifiably champing at the bit (“atat na atat”, they tell me. Or “napaka atat”! ). Everyone with any feelings at all wants to be with their Filipina sweetheart! And some of you haven’t seen each other for 2 years or more! So anxiety is normal, especially with politicians making noises about plans to reopen the Australian borders.

But again, no, the Australian border bans are still in place! Personally? I believe only for a few more months. Things are changing. More people are getting vaccinated. Infection numbers are dropping. However NO changes or announcements as of this date!


What HAS happened!


  • Parents are now seen as members of the family, and may apply for travel ban exemptions for them.

Haven’t lodged any completed applications yet for tourist visas or temporary parent visas for Filipino parents, but will fairly soon I would say. We have some being prepared, but not yet lodged. It’s a good thing for those who miss their parents, however if you ask me I think they should have prioritized fiancees and those in long-term relationships! 

  • Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents may leave Australia without needing permission

Yes, borders are open to those who wish to leave. Please don’t ask me to advise on that, as we bring people into Australia from the Philippines. Not the other way around. Check the Government websites for details, and for anything you need to do before you leave.

But please be aware! Being able to leave Australia does NOT mean you may enter the Philippines! Yes, there are a few exemptions to the rule, but for general tourist entry the Philippines remains presently closed. No factual news and no official announcements  fro the Philippines Government of opening dates.


COVID-19 in the Philippines


Things are changing! 

I’m trying to look up statistics to quote you, and it’s giving me a headache! I’ve heard COVID-19 figures for Manila as going from around 25,000 new cases a day maybe 2 months ago down to about 2,000, and talk of it dropping to maybe 500 by late November!

Quarantine rules are relaxing. Face shields are gone. Curfews are gone. We can take our kids outside again, even to the mall. Facemasks remain, of course. And anyone with half a brain knows they still need to be careful. But this is all good. All positive!

And vaccinations are moving on at a great pace. Something like 1.5 million vaccine doses per day! And I believe 88% of the population in Manila (I think that means adults) are already vaccinated. 

I do believe it will only be a few more months before they open the Philippines borders and let visitors in. This will PROBABLY be fully-vaccinated travelers only, so if this is your intention you may want to think about this.


Visa Options (Philippines to Australia) right now?


Travel Ban Exemptions


We can apply for these for:

  • Members of family units of Australian Citizens and Permanent Resident. That means spouses and children, and NOW includes parent of the above.

It does NOT include girlfriends/boyfriends or fiancees. It should, but it does not!

  • Holders of Prospective Marriage Visas (applied-for 12 months before the grant)
  • And they say for compelling and compassionate cases, but I haven’t seen much compassion from them at all! 


Automatically exempt from Travel Bans


  • Anyone with a permanent visa, eg Subclass 309 Offshore Partner visa, Subclass 101 Child Visa, Subclass 445 Dependent Child Visa.
  • Kids with Australian Citizenship By Descent

Travel bans for anyone with the above? Not even an issue! Partner visa holders must attend the CFO, and everyone has a few hurdles to jump in these delightful COVID days. 

Strongly advise to click on before you plan traveling, and keep checking for any changes. 


Travel Ban Exemption applications?


They’ve been getting tougher and tougher as time goes on. Everything else in the world is getting more relaxed! Face shields and kids locked away for 18+ months, all over. Curfews lifting. Politicians talking about things returning to normal in a matter of months. 

But Border Force? No, they refuse perfectly valid applications for genuine couples!

Yes, they still grant them. But I’m seeing a lot of refusals lately. We will keep trying for those who’ve applied, of course. But honestly I can see some of you will need to wait for the borders to open. 


Tourist Visas?


  • For parents, yes you should apply now.
  • For married couples? You may apply now, however take note of what I said about Travel Ban Exemptions! They are NOT a certainty! Nothing in the visa business IS certain, of course. But things that used to be as close to “certain” as they could be, are now not necessarily so certain. 

Worst case scenario for married couples (in my view)? May need to wait a few months for the borders to open. And everyone has had a great deal of practice waiting and waiting, haven’t they? 

  • For anyone who hasn’t met in person? Keep waiting! 
  • For those who have met but are not married or in a de facto relationship (that can be proved!)? I would still suggest waiting for the borders to open. You have no grounds whatsoever for an Exemption. Don’t even try!


Partner Visas?


Married already, or just about to?

Look at an Offshore Partner Visa! You can start it now, and they are processing new applications much faster these days. More information in some of the recent BLOG articles, so I won’t repeat myself.


Not married yet, and want to marry in Australia?

Prospective Marriage Visa, aka Fiancee Visa! As above, you can start it now and they are processing new applications at a reasonable speed these days.


What else can you do?

Well? We can apply for tourist visas to go with the partner visas above! There’s a good chance we can lodge these early in 2022 (gut feeling!), and you can spend much of the waiting time in Australia together. 


Now, I DO hope I’ve curbed some of the over-enthusiasm I’ve heard lately. You all know who you are! You are the ones I’ve had to say “No, sorry. Not open yet!” And of course I understand why!

And I hope this has given many of you a clearer picture of how things are and what to expect in the next few months as the world starts returning to normal. Seems to be one positive change after another lately, and I know I feel much better and more hopeful. I just look forward to something definitive to tell you about border-opening dates!! Hopefully soon.

Take care (“ingat”) everyone!




More information on Offshore Partner Visas HERE    


Free online visa assessment form from Down Under Visa



COVID CONCERNS? From 21 Feb 2022 the Australian border will be open. You just need a visa and to be double-vaxed! Click above and get a free assessment!



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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