Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says he's confident international students and skilled workers would be able to travel to Australia "sooner rather than later".
He said the federal government was working on bringing back overseas students to the country, with talks under way with states and territories.
The comments come as his NSW counterpart Dominic Perrottet announced plans to restart the international student sector in the state once key vaccination targets were reached.
"We will be bringing back international students in due course and we've been discussing that with the NSW government and it's something we've been thinking about internally," Mr Frydenberg told major businesses in an online address on Friday.
"It's inevitable that (the return) will happen and I'm confident it could happen sooner rather than later."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier on Friday that travel would be possible once vaccination targets hit 80 per cent.
He said students and skilled workers would be able to be welcomed back to the country once they were fully vaccinated.
The NSW government said it expected to see the return of hundreds of international students by year's end, although not from key markets such as China and Nepal due to vaccination restrictions.
The NSW plan would require all international students to be fully vaccinated with vaccines that have been recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which include Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.
Students vaccinated with other vaccines, such as Sinovac, will not be allowed to enter.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson welcomed the proposal.
"Today's announcement will bring hope and certainty for many students who have been patiently waiting to return to NSW campuses and realise their dream of a world-class Australian education," she said.
"Universities around the nation have been working diligently on pilot plans, and the NSW scheme will be closely watched."
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he expected students to be able to return to Canberra in 2022.
He told reporters on Friday a pilot program was not needed in the territory.
"If we look at trying to get international students back not in a handful, but in much greater numbers, for the commencement of term one, 2022, that's a goal worth working towards," Mr Barr said.