Fully vaccinated students and skilled labour visa holders will be allowed to enter Australia without needing a travel exemption, from next week.
Further, vaccinated visa holders, including humanitarian workers, working holidaymakers, provisional family visa holders, and travellers from Japan and the Republic of Korea also will be able to enter the country.
Home affairs minister Karen Andrews said she expected 200,000 visa holders would take up the opportunity to travel to Australia following the changes, which begin December 1.
“It may well be more than that, but we will be actively looking to bring as many people into Australia as soon as we possibly can,” Andrews said.
Travellers will need to be fully vaccinated, provide proof of their vaccination status, and present a negative PCR test within three days prior to their departure.
But the visa holders will still be subject to quarantine arrangements in each state and territory they enter into.
Visitors entering New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT have arrangements to allow for quarantine-free travel for vaccinated arrivals, while Queensland does not, Andrews highlighted.
Commencements in the higher education sector have declined by more than 40% since a peak recorded months before the pandemic.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson welcomed the federal government’s green light to international student visa holders to return.
“This is great news which will give heart to more than 130,000 international students with visas waiting to return to Australia,” Jackson said in a statement.
“We look forward to further detail so we can work quickly to get students back for first semester next year.”
New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia have pilot plans for the return of international students, with the first of flights to arrive in Sydney on December 6. Queensland has lodged a plan with the federal government for approval.