Close
Health & Insurance

Can unvaccinated students return to Australia?

Australian travel restrictions
Novak Djokovic, the world's No. 1-ranked tennis player has been refused entry to Australia due to him being unvaccinated. If Australian travel restrictions can ban a star, what more students? Source: Marco Bertorello / AFP

Australian travel restrictions do not lift easily, not even for 20-time Grand Slam tournament champion and sports superstar Novak Djokovic. On Jan. 5, 2021, he was told he would need to leave the country, after a 12-hour standoff with government officials at a Melbourne Airport.

Djokovic was held in a room overnight over his visa’s validity and evidence of his medical exemption from getting a COVID vaccine. The exemption was supposed to allow Djokovic into the country, where he’s set to compete in the Australian Open even though he had not been vaccinated.

Unvaccinated international students will not be spared either. Australian travel restrictions have very strict and specific rules that must be followed before anyone can be exempted.

Unvaccinated international students are not allowed to travel to Australia unless they have an exemption to prove their reason for not being vaccinated. Source: David Gray / AFP

Australian travel restrictions and exemptions for students

Ever since Australia opened its borders to the world, fully vaccinated students are able to travel to Australia without needing to apply for an exemption. However, unvaccinated international students are not allowed to travel to Australia unless they have an exemption to prove their reason for not being vaccinated.

Unvaccinated international students would need a proper reason or medical condition to gain an exemption. Failure to do so will cause issues during the immigration process, including arrest, detention and deportation.

Travellers have also tried to lie their way into Australia using fake vaccination certificates. According to Tech Wire Asia, verification technology is now able to detect a fake vaccination certificate in real-time, with some able to check COVID-19 digital credentials from over 2,000 healthcare labs across the world and read eight national health standards for vaccination certificates.

In addition to how strict Australian immigration is to travellers, on Jan. 17 2021, a Malaysian mother and her daughter were detained and arrested for four months after the Australia Border Force intercepted 25 kilograms of brown ginger tea and have mistaken it for marijuana.

What about the US and the UK?

In the US, unvaccinated international students are not allowed to enter unless they meet the criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC’s Order. However, like Australia, they can apply for an exemption if they hold a valid reason for not being vaccinated. Here’s the full US list of exemptions and evidence criteria for more information.

The UK has taken a very different approach compared to the US and Australia. Unvaccinated international students are allowed to enter the UK but would need to go through a strict 10-day quarantine as soon as they touch down. This is accompanied by two COVID tests, a negative result two days before their arrival and another within two days after. Read the international students guide on travelling to the UK for more information.