For more than a year, businesses and individuals have been uncertain about workforce mobility due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Now, with the distribution of vaccines happening throughout the world, people want to know about a timeline for reopening Australian borders.
Officials are still taking a cautious approach to mobility. After all, vaccines are available in some parts of the world, but not all. Even in the places where they’re being distributed, not everyone is eligible to receive the shot.
Additionally, every country will recover from COVID-19 at a different pace depending on their resources and the effectiveness of their response plans. Until everyone has the opportunity to be vaccinated, we can expect the Australian Government to remain vigilant and non-essential travel to Australia to remain restricted.
Reopening Australian borders: What we know
The latest immigration update indicates that the current border restrictions are extended until 17 June 2021. This means that international travel isn’t an option unless you qualify and are approved for a travel exemption. Note that certain workers can come into or out of the country under the current restrictions. The exemption list includes provisions for workers with critical skills, those with specialised medical knowledge, and foreign nationals with jobs on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation list.
Although it’s possible that the government will lift restrictions in June, industry experts expect the closures will remain in place for a while longer. It’s impossible to predict an exact date, but late 2021 or early 2022 is more likely given the time it takes to distribute the vaccines and measure their effectiveness.
Further, experts expect that the government will take a phased approach to reopen Australian borders. They may begin with inbound and outbound travel to certain countries that have contained the Coronavirus, and slowly open to other countries as the infection rates drop. It’s also possible that airlines will implement policies to allow vaccinated people to travel, which could inform the government’s decisions as they reopen borders.
In March 2021, the government announced that border restrictions will be lifted for Australians travelling to New Zealand. People who have been in Australia for 14 days before departure can travel to New Zealand without needing an outbound travel exemption. It’s expected that New Zealand will implement border changes to allow Australian citizens into the country, which will effectively create a “travel bubble” between the two countries.
What employers need to consider during this transition phase
As the vaccine makes its way around the world, we’ll enter a transition phase where countries will evaluate when and how to reopen borders. This highlights the importance of creating an effective immigration strategy for the post-pandemic world. Global employers should consider the following regarding mobility and immigration:
- Planning ahead for reopening and understanding your options: If you have an immediate need for a strategic employee, you aren’t completely stuck until borders reopen. The exempted categories mentioned earlier allow for some flexibility, and TMA has had success with lodging visa applications during the pandemic. If you have an urgent need, know that you may have options.
- Understanding government safety measures and timelines: Globally, the COVID-19 situation is rapidly changing. It’s critical for employers to stay on top of the latest developments and to know what national, state and local authorities are doing to respond to the health crisis. Staying informed allows you to develop realistic timelines and plans regarding your global workforce and immigration strategy.
- Being aware of government measures to allow mobility: At this stage, people have proposed ideas such as the vaccine passport, but nothing is official. However, if measures like this are put in place, mobility will pick up again and employers will have increased options for bringing workers to Australia. As an employer, stay aware of these propositions so that you can act quickly if circumstances change.
Skilled talent migration continues with TMA
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has affected skilled talent migration. However, it’s still possible to tap into international talent – especially if your company has an urgent need for an exempt skilled worker. For example, TMA recently secured travel exemptions for employees working in healthcare and medical services, banking and finance, regulatory, fin-tech and ICT, supply chain and logistics, and other industries working to support Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
TMA specialises in building compelling migration cases that lead to simple and rapid approvals. With Australian borders reopening in the near future, it’s wise to start your strategic planning now. If you’re an employer or individual looking for skilled migration assistance, please contact us today.