(non-dual) Australian citizen emigrating during covid border restrictions

Expatriates Asked by Elliott on July 24, 2020

I’m currently looking for work in France, but I’d like to know if I could actually leave Australia if I organised a work contract with a French employer. My intention is to permanently live in France. My partner is French (and in France) and I am stuck in Australia. We’re not yet married and I don’t hold any residency of France at this stage.

This is the Home Affairs official notice:

If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot
leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an
exemption. You can apply online but you must meet at least one of the

  • your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
  • your travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)
  • you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
  • you are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
  • you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds
  • your travel is in the national interest.

This is surely a common issue at the moment, so I’m wondering if anyone has had some success with receiving exemptions under this situation? or has enough legal background to argue if it’s possible?

One Answer

There is grounds to seek an exception in this situation.

I contacted Abode Migration Lawyers and this was their response:

The issue of the border being closed – both for people wanting to enter Australia and leave, is helpful for you to keep in the mind – that the overarching legal principles and considerations of Border Force in letting you out of Australia relate purely to public safety in the context of a health pandemic and not migration.

Justice Connect has some useful links to information about the government’s emergency powers (which stem from the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth):

Here is the health declaration made under the Act:

s477 of the Act in particular is where the current emergency powers stem:

The actual determination that contains the law in relation to stopping citizens departing Australia is here:

To give your request for permission to depart Australia the best chance of success you are going to need substantial evidence that you are intending on departing Australia permanently so that would include evidence such as: visa for France showing you can live there indefinitely, secure employment, that you have sold your assets etc here in Australia and have secured accommodation overseas.

and separately:

You could apply for permission to travel to France on the basis of your work commitments there. We have assisted people with their application for permission to depart. In most circumstances people come to us if their request for permission to travel has been knocked back.

The more supporting documents you provide the better your chances of receiving an approval for your travel from the Australian border authority

Correct answer by Elliott on July 24, 2020

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