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Australia and Japan: new international students’ travel rules

Starting 1 December, Australia will reopen its borders for vaccinated students with a valid visa, easing the path for international students to get back to Australia.

A joint statement signed by the prime minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Education and Youth, and Minister for Women highlighted the changes to Australia’s border policy. In addition to a valid visa, students will also need to provide proof of full vaccination recognised by Australia’s government Department of Health, and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. In the case of the country’s states that require quarantine on arrival, the rules imposed by individual states must still be respected, although many states have been recently easing quarantine requirements for students.

The Australian government highlighted the importance of the return of both international students and skilled workers, describing them as fundamental to the economic and social recovery. The government’s positive opinion is matched by enthusiasm from both universities and businesses, that see the gradual easing of restrictions as a promising sign for the future. A two-way travel bubble between Singapore and Australia has also been established from November 22, with travellers from Japan and Korea also being able to travel to Australia starting from December 1.

Similarly, Japan has also finally lifted the incoming travel ban on international students, meaning that some students will be able to resume their studies in person in the coming weeks. However, a daily limit on arrival and a complicated set of rules means that many students will have to wait before returning to their universities. In fact, the new rules give priority to students who hold a certificate of eligibility for a visa issued before April 2020, meaning that any students who applied for a visa later than the start of the pandemic have long waiting times ahead of them. For these reasons, students are searching for alternative arrangements, focusing on their remote learning or giving up on their plans to study in Japan altogether.

More information

Australian government's statement

Japan Times article