International Student Arrival Plans

Australian immigration has announced that the travel exceptions for parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents commencing in November 2021.

After their announcement, I got messages from a few students that they expected the border to open. So today, I will share about the International student arrival plan latest news here.

Latest news

The NSW International Student Arrivals Plan to return international students to NSW has received support from the Australian Government and NSW Government, in line with the State’s roadmap to recovery and the National Transition Plan for Australia’s COVID-19 response.

The Plan will allow a limited number of 250 international students studying with NSW education providers to return each fortnight from early December 2021.

To learn more about the NSW International Student arriavals plan, see below. 

NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan


The NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan to return international students to NSW has received support from the Australian Government and NSW Government.

The Pilot Plan will allow a limited number of 250 international students studying with NSW education providers to return each fortnight from early December 2021.

For now – under the Pilot initially – international students who return to Australia must be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccination before landing in Sydney.

International students will quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation in Sydney and adhere to the same health and quarantine requirements set by the Australian Government for returning Australians.

The NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan will not displace any returning Australians and be fully funded by industry, with in-kind support provided by the NSW Government around logistics and the coordination of their return.


New announcements on the 15 October 2021 about changes to NSW quarantine arrangements for fully vaccinated Australian citizens, residents and their immediate families, do not impact the current NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan.

In partnership with industry, we are continuing with our plans to return up to 500 students to the state by the end of the year, and will provide any update as soon as possible.

Frequently asked questions

1. Will it be compulsory for international students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine prior to their return to NSW?

Based on current health authorities’ advice, only students who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will be eligible to return to NSW as part of the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan. This is to help protect the safety of the NSW community and the students themselves.

2. When will the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan commence?

Study NSW is working closely with the Australian Government, education sector and NSW Government agencies to support the return of international students to NSW, in line with the State’s roadmap to recovery and the National Transition Plan for Australia’s COVID-19 response. The NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan will allow a limited number of 250 international students studying with NSW education providers to return each fortnight from early December 2021.

3. Who will inform international students if they are eligible to return to NSW?

Education providers will directly contact any students invited to return to NSW, providing with them the information they require at every step of the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan. Targeted communication will ensure students understand their responsibilities and obligations as they arrive in NSW as well as the support available to them from NSW Government and their respective education providers

4. Who is funding the return of international students?

All costs associated with travel and quarantine will be borne by participating education providers and returning students. ​Specific details about the costs involved will be communicated directly to international students. ​Returning students will be approached by their institutions based on a range of criteria and their individual situations.

5. Will the weekly number of returning students eventually increase?

NSW Government will continue to work with education providers and the wider sector to deliver a successful International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan, so that more international students who remain abroad can get back to NSW as soon as possible. A successful, scaled return will lead to an expanded pilot and allow for more students from a range of institutions to return to NSW in due course.

6. Will returning international students be able to commence on-campus learning?

Education providers supporting the return of international students will resume on-campus learning with COVID-safe arrangements in accordance with the National COVID-19 Transition Plan agreed by National Cabinet, including tutorials, workshops, libraries, and practical requirements. In due course, students will also be able to meet with teaching and support staff, in an appropriate campus setting.

7. What about students who are still unable to return to NSW to recommence their studies in 2021?

Education providers will continue to provide online classes and support for those who are unable to commence or resume their studies this year in NSW, while working with government partners to deliver a successful pilot and find ways for more international students to return to NSW in due course.

8. If I am an international student currently in NSW, can I now return to my home country and then re-enter Australia via the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan?

The aim of the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan is to ensure that international students who remain abroad can get back to our State as soon as possible. We also know there are many international students who have remained in NSW during the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to return home and visit their friends and family. International border restrictions are still in place, and student visas and travel exemptions are a matter for the Commonwealth Government. We encourage you to review the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs ( to keep up to date on any developments.

9. Why has NSW endorsed a plan for international students and prioritised their travel to Australia, when many Australians are still unable to return home?

NSW has supported the return of more than 240,000 returning international travellers up to early September 2021, many of whom were Australian citizens and permanent residents. International student arrivals will be separate to the weekly caps, and all costs associated with travel and quarantine will be borne by the education providers and returning students. The NSW Government will continue to prioritise the return of Australians, in accordance with the State’s weekly cap on arrivals and the national position of the Australian Government.

11. If an international student’s vaccine isn’t recognised by the TGA but is so in their home country, can they be considered in the Pilot Plan?

Only students who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are eligible to initially return to NSW as part of the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan. The Pilot Plan will be overseen at all times by all key NSW Government agencies including NSW Health, and we will continue to review the pilot and communicate any changes to eligibility requirements in due course.

12. Can international students and their families remain confident that they stay safe and protected from COVID-19 once they recommence their studies in NSW?

In the uncertainty of these times, Australia’s focus on minimising the risks of COVID-19 means international students can be more confident of their experience here than just about anywhere else in the world. The pilot will ensure that returning students can successfully resume their studies and enjoy NSW’s vibrant, multicultural community as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease in the State.

13. How can international students and the sector stay informed about this Pilot Plan?

Study NSW will ensure international students have easy fast-tracked access to information, support and services at every stage of their safe return to NSW. Clear and accurate information will be provided to international students through their education provider and via the Study NSW website and mailing list (

International Student Arrival Plan overview 

There are limited travel exemptions available for international students who can meet specific criteria including some health/medical students and PhD research students.

In addition to these limited travel exemptions, Australia’s state and territory governments, in consultation with the Australian government and education providers, are developing International Student Arrivals Plans to enable a limited numbers of students to travel to Australia until current travel restrictions are lifted.

Information for students

State and territory governments will work with education institutions to identify and approach international students who may be eligible to return to Australia under an approved plan. You should contact your education provider to determine if they are included as part of this planning.


You must hold a valid Student (subclass 500) visa to participate in an International Student Arrival Plan. The Department will not facilitate priority processing for student visas as part of this process. Check our website for current processing times.

While there is no minimum visa validity required to enter Australia, you should allow enough time on your visa if there are delays to your travel to Australia. You cannot board your scheduled flight without a visa.

If you travel to Australia on your existing student visa, and you lodged a new visa application while offshore that is still pending a decision, you will be able to apply for a Bridging visa A. 

If you wish to lodge an application for a further student visa in Australia, you must meet standard eligibility requirements.

Travel exemptions

If you are selected under these arrival plans, you will still need a travel exemption to travel to Australia. The relevant state or territory government will apply for this exemption on your behalf.

Your education provider will advise on travel arrangements once your travel exemption is approved. You should not apply for an individual travel exemption or make arrangements to travel to Australia to participate in an International Student Arrival plan unless you have been advised to by your education institution.

Further details on the process for travel exemptions related to approved International Student Arrival Plans will be made available to participating education providers and students as required. Please do not apply for an inwards travel exemption unless advised.

Students participating in an approved International Student Arrival Plan must expect to stay in Australia for an extended period. There is no automatic right of re-entry if students choose to leave. This includes for holidays, course breaks or to visit family.

If you choose to leave Australia, you will need to apply for an individual inwards travel exemption for re-entry. Travel exemptions are only granted in very limited and exceptional circumstances. 

Australia Travel Declaration

You will need complete an online Australian Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your departure to Australia.

The Australia Travel Declaration collects your contact details in Australia, flight details, quarantine requirements and health status.

Once the declaration has been completed, you will receive an email with details you can show (either electronically or printed) before you board your flight and on arrival in Australia.

Visa conditions

You must have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your studies. You will not be eligible for Australian Government financial support.

You may also find it difficult to find part-time work in Australia given current economic conditions. It is important that you understand the work conditions related to your visa.

You and any accompanying family members must have and maintain adequate health insurance for the period of your stay in Australia. Students must be covered by Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) from an approved Australian health insurance provider, unless an exception applies.

Kate Kyoung A, LEE

Qualified Education Agent – #E086

Australian Education & Visa Centre Pty Ltd

p:07 5532 2688 m: 0450 033 211 kakaotalk: kate0206

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