Supporting the safe return of international students to NSW

Latest information as at 2 December 2021

Study NSW is working closely with the Australian Government, the 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. This is an important milestone for NSW and reinforces the State’s standing as a world-leading study destination.

Pause to further easing of border restrictions

For all international students outside of Australia

On the basis of medical advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Professor Paul Kelly, the National Security Committee has taken the necessary and temporary decision to pause the next step to safely reopen Australia to international skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holiday maker and provisional family visa holders from 1 December until 15 December.

The reopening to travellers from Japan and the Republic of Korea will also be paused until 15 December.

The temporary pause will ensure Australia can gather the information we need to better understand the Omicron variant, including the efficacy of the vaccine, the range of illness, including if it may generate more mild symptoms, and the level of transmission.

For more information, read the Prime Minister's media statement from 29 November 2021.

Study NSW encourages international students to contact their education provider and airline to discuss how these changes may impact their journey to Australia.

For all international students booked on scheduled flights to Sydney under the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan

The two existing flights scheduled to land in Sydney on 6 and 24 December are proceeding. These flights are part of a separate travel exemption process, under the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan and aligned to the Australian Government Protocols and Preconditions for International Student Arrivals.

Self-isolation requirements for international arrivals into NSW

A new COVID-19 variant of concern has emerged internationally, the Omicron variant.

On November 28 2021 the rules for international passengers changed. Follow the rules for international passengers into NSW.

International students arriving in NSW who are fully vaccinated and have been in any overseas country, must get a COVID-19 PCR (nose and throat) test and self-isolate at their accommodation or place of residence for at least 72 hours.

The self-isolation rules are enforceable under the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order. Not following the rules is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

For individuals, the maximum penalty is $11,000, 6 months in prison, or both with a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence continues.

Learn more about self-isolation

Sydney and NSW to welcome international students

Study NSW welcomes the Australian Government's announcement that fully vaccinated student visa holders and other eligible visa holders can travel to and from Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption effective 15 December 2021.

Our State has missed the many positive contributions international students make to the communities where they study, live and work.

With a demonstrated and ongoing commitment to community safety and liveability, NSW will continue to offer international students the opportunity to learn in one of the world’s best countries for students, acquire internationally recognised qualifications and launch their career in Australia or anywhere in the world.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said international education plays a vital role in connecting NSW to the world, with almost 290,000 students studying here before the pandemic, supporting more than 95,000 full-time jobs.

Important information for returning international students to Sydney and NSW

From 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can now travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption.

The Department of Home Affairs has published new advice on arrangements for eligible visa holders.

Please consult the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website or Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for advice on COVID-19 vaccines recognised for the purposes of travel to Australia.

The NSW Government will not require international students to quarantine on arrival. This aligns with quarantine requirements for returning Australians.

When preparing to travel, you should check what you need to do when leaving Australia or coming to Australia from overseas.
International students who are returning under the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan will still travel to Sydney on their scheduled flights.

Update on the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan

International students who were booked to return on flights under the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan will still travel to NSW on their scheduled flights. The existing flights provide a safe return path to NSW while the international travel situation remains fluid and spaces on commercial flights may remain limited.

The first chartered plane will land in Sydney on Monday 6 December and carry over 250 students from over 15 nations, including Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, China and Canada. A second flight carrying students from South Asia is due to arrive in Sydney on 24 December 2021.

All international students who return to Australia must be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised COVID-19 vaccination before landing in Sydney.

More information