I Haven’t Seen My Partner For 18 Months Due to Australia’s Travel Ban

15 months after Australia closed its international borders to all travel, the travel ban continues to separate intimate partners and families.

Coastal view of the Sydney Central Business District, the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. People are seated on the rocks looking out at the harbor.
Photo by Alex wong on Unsplash

I wrote about being separated from my partner in a previous post. Thankfully, we were granted a Travel Exemption in the first quarter of this year.

Australia’s draconian travel policies during COVID-19 are some of the strictest in the world.

Since the pandemic began, many couples, husbands, wives, parents, children, and other loved ones have been separated due to Australia’s strict travel ban.

The mental health, physical well-being, financial well-being, and lack of attention on separated families continue to be a sore spot for Australian citizens in bi-national relationships and their partners. Australia had previously had been known for its “No Worries” culture, a slogan the country can longer hold a claim to.

My partner and I can finally be together, but we have been separated for eighteen months.

I am taking steps to move to Australia. I have packed up most of my life here and will soon make the trek to reunite with him.

It didn’t work out for him to come and see me, as he would need to apply for an Outbound Travel Exemption, and he would be forced to leave the country for 3 months. He cannot leave his job for this long and he would jeopardize his career.

The stress we have been under has been immense, but compared to what others have gone through during this pandemic, we consider ourselves blessed.

We speak daily by phone, but we have had our share of upsets, frustrating phone calls, angst, and concerns as to when I will again join him in Australia.

I will be heading to Australia very soon, but for now, I have a few personal details to work out here in America. This involves essentially packing up my life and working out some loose ends.

I will certainly miss my life here in America, but I am willing to take a risk to be with him, and we are not certain how long this severe travel ban will be in force.

I am planning for being in Australia longer than I can currently anticipate, and I am taking steps to ensure that all my business details here in America are worked out beforehand.

Many partners in similar situations have joined their partners in Australia, the U.K., America, and other countries. Many have had to leave their longstanding jobs, their extended families, and have had to tap into their savings to reunite with their partners.

The mental fortitude that one must possess while separated is immense. I didn’t think I was going to make it, and I worry every day my partner will grow tired of this. I plan on being there within the next 30–60 days, but I still have no control over his stress levels and what he deems worthwhile to wait on.

So far, we are okay, but I do worry about it all. He has been incredibly patient with me as I grapple with leaving the country I have lived in all my life.

Meanwhile, so many of us with partners in Australia have been humbled to see the many celebrities, sports stars, and musicians jetting in and out of Australia so easily and without much effort, often with their extended families and parents.

It is upsetting to see these privileged people gain access to Australia when they clearly have no ties to the country and are just vacationing or coming to Australia for business.

At the same time, people with strong ties to Australia, such as those that are in long-established and intimate relationships, are being denied exemptions.

My partner and I had to apply for an Inward Travel Exemption 25 times and we were rejected 24 times even after sending hundreds of pages of personal paperwork detailing how and when we met, while also having to prove the length and evidence of our courtship.

This was a belittling process, but at least we succeeded in being granted an exemption, but not without the help of a paid migration agent.

Now that I can return to my partner, I will leave my family here in the states with mixed feelings. I will also pack up my home and my life and move to a country I know very little about.

I am concerned about the culture shock. I am worried about the travel ban and not being able to see my family in America once I move to Australia.

I am happy to reunite with my partner, but it seems as though I will not have the freedom to travel as I do now while I live here in America.

Australia used to be known as a penal colony. Many Australians now refer to Australia as “Prison Island.” Other Australians are quite pleased to have their country locked down if they can manage to keep COVID-19 out of Australia.

Currently, Melbourne is in the midst of another lockdown. Citizens are required to stay in and only leave their homes for essentials. The way things look, more lockdowns will happen in the future in Australia and it is extremely concerning. I also hope the travel ban does not continue into 2022 or beyond.

I will also have to quarantine on arrival, so even though I might be able to fly to Australia tomorrow, I must take a PCR test before my flight and be negative for the virus. In addition, there is a chance that the flight I book to Australia will be canceled. And lastly, I will have to pay a $3,000 fee for quarantine and stay in quarantine for two weeks before I am allowed to see my partner.

Being separated from my partner for eighteen months has been a nerve-wracking, stressful, and anxiety-filled reality we have both been living with.

I am anxious to close the gap and hold my partner again, but I also hope that Australia figures out how to reunite the many families who are separated and are still suffering due to this strict travel ban.

Italian American. Animal lover. Traveler. Dreamer. Downhill skier. Avocado appreciator. Sensitive to random noises. I've been told I talk too much.

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