I have a Visa for the UK, how do I apply for a Travel Exemption to leave Australia?

I have a Visa for the UK,  how do I apply for a Travel Exemption to leave Australia?

Last updated -1st July 2020

How do I get a travel exemption, now that I have a work visa for the UK (for example UK Ancestry visa, Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa & Tier 2 visa)?

Many of our clients have their approved work visas for the UK and are asking us how they are able to get to the UK to collect their BRP cards and commence their UK journey, with the current COVID-19 travel ban in place for Australians wanting to leave Australia.

The only way for UK visa holders to board a flight to the UK at the moment is to have a travel exemption from the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Every application for a travel exemption is decided case by case and unfortunately we do not know what the secret ingredients are to get this exemption over the line.

However, this is what we do know for certain:

  • If you are an Australian citizen you cannot leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption.
  • To get the exemption you must apply online
  • You must prove that you are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business (you are relocating to the UK for work). 
  • You must provide evidence to show that you truly are moving to the UK and not coming back for a while 
  • You must show supporting documents to prove that you are moving
  • Supporting documents that can be shown are:
  1. UK visa status
  2. Proof that you are moving to another country on a long term basis such as leases, job offers and evidence your goods are being transported
  3. Letter from UK employer showing why the travel is necessary 
  4. Statement or evidence to show that you do not wish to return to Australia longterm
  5. Any other proof you may have to support your claims.

Furthermore, ensure that you apply for an exemption at least one week before you are planning to travel, but not more than 3 months before your planned travel. It seems that Home Affairs are issuing exemption visas in travel date order. So, if you state that you are traveling to the UK in 3 months time, you may not hear from them until 2 weeks before your travel date. 

If your exemption is unsuccessful, you should not continue with your travel plans. If granted an exemption, you must take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport. If you have received an exemption to fly out of Sydney, please be aware that you must fly out of Sydney. Your exemption will not be valid for another Australian airport.

This is where you will find the COVID-19 request to leave Australia form: