Travel applications open for overseas parents of Australian citizens and residents

Applications opened on Friday for travel to Australia starting 1 November, when various parental relationships will be included in the definition of "immediate family".

A sign is displayed inside the empty arrivals hall at the international airport in Sydney on 15 October, 2021.

A sign is displayed inside the empty arrivals hall at the international airport in Sydney on 15 October, 2021. Source: AFP

Parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents can now apply for an exemption to travel to Australia from the start of next month. 

Applications through the Department of Home Affairs' Travel Exemption Portal opened on Friday for travel to Australia from 1 November, when various parental relationships will be included in the definition of "immediate family". 

It follows a change in exemptions announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week. 

Under Australia's COVID-19 travel rules, only the "immediate family" of an Australian citizen or permanent resident is allowed to enter the country. Parents weren't initially considered to be immediate family. 

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews on Friday said the changes would reunite many families separated by the pandemic. 

“For more than 18 months, many families with parents overseas have missed weddings, funerals, the birth of grandchildren, and other significant events. I thank these families for their patience and their sacrifice over this period,” Ms Andrews said in a statement.

“With today’s change, parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents can reunite in Australia; they can once more hold their grandchildren, and gather in person to share life’s significant milestones."

From 1 November, the Department says the definition of "immediate family member" will include various parental relationships, including biological, adoptive, legal, step-parent and parent-in-law. 

Parents will need to provide evidence of their adult child's citizenship or permanent residency, along with their parental relationship to them. Examples include birth, adoption, marriage or family status certificates, with further examples detailed on the Department's website. 

They must also have a valid passport, visa, and proof of vaccination for travel to Australia. 

All international travellers remain subject to state and territory quarantine arrangements. 

Campaigners had long been calling on the federal government to include parents as immediate family for inbound travel, with many critical of the restrictions imposed on their parents to enter Australia.

Many Australian citizens and permanent residents, including new mothers unable to be with their mums and dads after giving birth, have described the family separation as "soul-destroying".

There have been numerous protests against the restrictions across the country in the past 18 months.


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Published 22 October 2021 at 12:00pm
By Emma Brancatisano
Source: SBS News