External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that India "greatly appreciated" the opening of Australian borders which will help those who have been waiting to come back, especially students, temporary visa holders and separated families.
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Australia will open its borders to all vaccinated tourists and business travellers from February 21 in a further relaxation of pandemic restrictions announced on February 7.
Australia imposed some of the world's toughest travel restrictions on its citizens and permanent residents in March 2020 to prevent them from bringing COVID-19 home.
"I welcome the opening of borders by the Government of Australia, which will help those who have been in India waiting to come back, especially students, temporary visa holders, separated families and this is something which is greatly appreciated," Jaishankar, who is visiting Australia on his first trip to the country as external affairs minister, said during the joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne.
"I yesterday had an opportunity to meet some student representatives, their spirits were much higher after learning of this decision," he said.
In October, Australia announced the reopening of international travel and the easing of border restrictions. The country has approved the India-made Covishield vaccine for travelling into the country.
Jaishankar also met Australia's Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday and discussed issues like talent, mobility and globalisation.
Indian students in Australia have formed among the highest number of international students in the country, second only to China.
Data by Australia's Department of Education indicated that 2,500 Indian students began studies in Australia last year, an 83 per cent decrease compared to 2019 over the same period. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, during 2019/20, Indian students contributed 6.6 Australian billion dollars to Australia's economy.
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