Over 50,000 People Call for Australia to Lift Travel Restrictions for Temporary Visa Holders

By Epoch Times Sydney Staff
Epoch Times Sydney Staff
Epoch Times Sydney Staff
November 17, 2021 Updated: November 17, 2021

Migrants in Australia on temporary visas are calling on the government to remove “discriminatory” restrictions on them returning to the country, with a petition signed by over 50,000 people.

New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria have opened international travel to Australian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family members who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, temporary visa holders in Australia do not enjoy the same freedom even if they are fully vaccinated. Once they leave, they run the risk they may not be able to return as currently temporary visa holders need “strong compassionate or compelling reasons” or essential work requirements to be granted an exemption.

Scott Morrison [Prime Minister] announced that from November, AU borders will be open to international travellers, allowing those overseas to make it home for Christmas and Australian citizens to travel elsewhere,” reads the petition, which was started by Katie Stenson, an Irish national who has been living in Sydney for nearly five years.

“Unfortunately, he has excluded anyone living here who is not a citizen, from leaving and returning to Australia. Temporary visa holders still cannot leave to visit our loved ones,” the petition declares.

“We work here, pay our taxes, received double vaccinations and contribute to society. It’s discriminatory to stop us from visiting our friends and families after almost two years apart.”

There are over two million people in Australia on temporary visas now, which is “a priority cohort for consideration” in the current Phase C of Australia’s national reopening roadmap.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement to The Epoch Times that she understands the pandemic has separated many people in Australia.

“Over the last two years I’ve spoken with grandparents who have missed births, families who have missed funerals, and separated couples,” Andrews said.

“Thanks to the millions of Australians who have rolled up their sleeve to be vaccinated, however, we’re now able to progressively reduce and remove international border restrictions.”

“I look forward to restrictions easing further for other cohorts very soon.” “Temporary visa holders can be assured that we’re working on this as a priority.”

As of Nov. 18, 2 p.m., the petition had garnered 51,870 signatures.