2021 – what shall we expect?
2021 has started with hopes that COVID19 finaly sees the end with an introduction of the vaccine. A successful pandemic managment in Australia prompts more questions about border reopening. However, the rest of the world is still battling high infection rates; hence Australia is unlikely to open its borders in 2021.
The migration program level remains at 160,000 for the 2020-21 program year, while the distribution of the allocations across visa streams will change. The family stream will increase from 47,732 places to 77,300 with the priority given visa applicants in regional Australia. To ensure the recruits of talented individuals to help with the economic recovery, Employer-Sponsored (Priority Occupations), Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be given priority.
Considering the above, Australian resident’s partners living overseas should consider lodging a partner visa application now rather than waiting for borders to reopen. Prospective spouses should also consider prospective marriage visa rather than trying to get married at all costs to be considered immediate family members for a travel exemption – the Marriage Certificate alone will not suffice to evidence spousal relationship.
The Border Force Commissioner’s Guidelines for travel exemptions have been updated, emphasising circumstances related to ‘Compassionate and Compelling’ grounds. Immediate family members of Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents, or New Zealand Citizens usually resident in Australia can still access an exemption based on their relationship.
Temporary visa holders who need to travel overseas for a short period can also apply for an inward travel exemption before leaving. Exemptions would apply where there were strong, compassionate and compelling circumstances or travel was essential for business.