Since the pandemic broke there has been two trains of thought as to what will happen with the government’s policy on migration and the re-opening of our borders. Will higher unemployment levels mean a drop in need for skilled workers with corresponding tougher policies, or will the need to stimulate the economy and support industry mean temporary visa programs continue at high levels?
The most recent announcement by government offering refunds and waivers of visa application fees to visa holders stuck overseas and needing to reapply for visas or no longer needing to enter Australia, suggests that temporary migration is still recognised as essential to business in Australia and is good news for clients.
Although there has been no details released of when the refunds or waivers will be implemented or what the eligibility criteria will be, yesterday’s announcement is as follows:
TSS (Subclass 482) and 400 visa holders
- This waiver applies to those visa holders who have not made their initial entry to Australia, or have returned home due to COVID-19.
- The government will offer a waiver of the visa application charge for subsequent applications by affected temporary employer sponsored skilled migrants.
- Visa applications will still be subject to the strict labour market testing requirements with no concessions expected unless these already exist.
- With visa expiries between March 2020 and December 2021 are eligible to have the government fee waived.
Working holiday makers
- Those who could not come to Australia or had to leave early due to COVID will also be eligible for a fee waiver.
- Those unable to return as they have passed the age limit of 31 or 35 will be able to claim a refund.
Prospective Marriage visa holders (subclass 300)
- These generally provide 9 months to travel to Australia to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
- Refunds will be available for those who were unable to enter Australia before their visa expired, due to the travel ban.
The government is hoping these measures will help support the rebound of Australia’s $45 billion international tourism sector when international travel restrictions ease. It also sees Working Holiday Makers as a major contributor to Australia’s tourism industry filling critical workforce shortages, particularly in regional and rural Australia contributing more than $3 billion a year to the economy and supporting local jobs.
More details will be provided as soon as these are released.
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