It has been a big two years for Australian employers and the immigration world. To time with the new financial year, we have provided the below update of where things are at with most COVID restrictions lifted and a new Government in place.
- New Government & Immigration Minister
- Processing backlogs & frustrations
- Increase in government fees, TSMIT & FWHIT
- New Permanent Residence pathways for certain short-term TSS visa holders
- Third onshore TSS visas for certain short-term TSS visa holders
- EOFY staff reviews
- Increase in minimum wage & awards
- Relaxation of work conditions for Students & Working Holiday visa holders
- Temporary removal of requirements for the Graduate Work stream of the subclass 485 Graduate visa
- Pandemic visa
- Update on borders and vaccination requirements for travel
New Government & Immigration Minister
On 23 May 2022, the Albanese Government assumed office and appointed Andrew Giles MP as Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.
The initial signs of this government change are positive, with a focus on basics such as improving processing times and dealing with the critical skill shortages in Australia. The longer-term policy objectives are likely to include increased pathways to permanent residence (PR), but it is not yet clear exactly what levers will be used to achieve this. Labor will need to balance demands of the unions for improved training and job creation for Australians with the demands of employers for quicker solutions to very significant skill gaps and shortages.
Processing backlogs & frustrations
As a result of the 2020-2021 border closures, there is an enormous backlog and delay with processing of all visas and in particular skilled visas. The Department currently has over 22,000 TSS visa applications alone outstanding, with:
- 2,000 lodged 12 or more months ago
- 3,500 lodged between 6-12 months ago
- 16,500 lodged within the last 6 months
Increase in government fees, TSMIT & FWHIT
The beginning of a new financial year usually sees an increase in government visa application and the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWIT).
Although no announcement has been made yet on the FWHIT, the increase in government fees from 1 July have been released today. The increase in fees for the visa types most commonly utilised by employers is as follows:
|Current||From 1 July|
|482 TSS visa – short-term|
|Secondary applicant 18+||$1290||$1330|
|Secondary applicant u18||$325||$335|
|482 TSS visa – medium-term|
|Secondary applicant 18+||$2,690||$2,770|
|Secondary applicant u18||$675||$695|
|494 regional visa|
|400, 407 and 408 visas|
|Secondary applicant 18+||$315||$325|
|Secondary applicant u18||$80||$80|
|ENS 186 visa (PR)|
|Secondary applicant 18+||$2,060||$2,120|
|Secondary applicant u18||$1,030||$1,060|
|Global Talent visa (PR)|
|Secondary applicant 18+||$2,095||$2,155|
|Secondary applicant u18||$1,045||$1,080|
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has also announced that the lodgement fee for an appeal will increase to $3,153.
These has been ongoing debate on whether the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) (which is currently set at $53,900) will be increased. Whilst the new Government gets settled, it is unlikely that we will see a change to the TSMIT on 1 July but this could be on the cards in the future.
New Permanent Residence pathways for certain short-term TSS visa holders
From 1 July 2022, employers will be able to nominate certain short-term subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa holders for permanent residence under the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa. The short-term TSS visa holder will need to:
- Have been in Australia for at least 12 months between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021; and
- Meet the usual temporary transition stream requirements for PR (including having worked for the business for at least three years as a TSS visa holder, with concessions for COVID-19 related stand-downs/reduction in hours etc.)
The grandfathering period for those who held, or had applied for, a subclass 457 visa as of 17 April 2017 has also been extended.
Third onshore TSS visas for certain short-term TSS visa holders
From 1 July 2022, short-term TSS holders will be able to apply for a third TSS visa onshore without departing Australia if they:
- were in Australia as the holder of a short-term TSS visa at least 12 months between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021; and
- make that further application before 1 July 2023, unless the Minister specifies a later date.
These changes were announced to facilitate the pathway to a permanent visa for the cohort mentioned above, for situations where the three year employment requirement won’t be met before the second TSS visa expires.
EOFY staff reviews
The end of the financial year means staff review time for a lot of businesses.
With 30 June fast approaching, it is important to remind those who employ 457/TSS visa holders that these employees have been approved to work in their nominated occupations only. While a promotion within the same occupational stream (and any associated salary increase) will generally comply with their 457/TSS visa conditions, a move into a different role must be carefully considered.
If a new role for a TSS visa holder would fall into a different occupation, a new TSS nomination and visa application will need to be lodged and approved for the role change can occur. For 457 visa holders, only a new nomination will need to be lodged and approved.
Please discuss any proposed role changes with your Ajuria adviser to ensure that your visa holders will continue to be compliant.
Increase in minimum wage & awards
Following its Annual Wage Review 2021-22 , the Fair Work Commission made announcements in relation the National Minimum Wage and Award Minimum Wages. We recommend that all salaries and awards for visa holders in Australia are reviewed before 1 July for compliance. Whilst a sponsored visa holder may have been approved with a certain salary, the visa holder must continue to be paid the relevant Award where applicable.
Relaxation of work conditions for Students & Working Holiday visa holders
Working Holiday visa holders can continue to work for the same employer for more than 6 months until at least 31 December 2022, when this temporary concession will be reviewed.
Working Holiday visa holders impacted by COVID may also be eligible to apply for a further working holiday visa without doing the usual 3 or 6 months of specified work. Please contact your Ajuria advisor for more information where needed.
Student visa holders are also able to work full time in any sector, including secondary visa holders. They are also able to work before their course of study commences. This concession has been in place since January 2022 and will continue until further notice from the Department.
Employers should keep up to date of any changes to visa conditions, including work rights by checking the Department’s website regularly.
Temporary removal of requirements for the Graduate Work stream of the subclass 485 Graduate visa
It has been announced that for the 2022-23 financial year, the following requirements will not apply for the Graduate Work stream of the subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa:
- an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List;
- a degree, diploma or trade qualification closely related to that occupation; and
- a successful skills assessment.
These temporary changes will allow a broader range of graduates with degree, diploma and
trade qualifications to live and work in Australia for a further temporary period (18 months). Of course, the qualifications must have been obtained in Australia whilst holding a student visa within 6 months of applying for the 485 visa.
This is a welcome change, as it is another potential option for employers to retain foreign workers who would not otherwise be eligible for the TSS visa (or, as an alternative to the cost of the TSS visa).
The COVID-19 Pandemic stream of the subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa remains available to all sectors. At time of application, the applicant must:
- have evidence of employment or an offer of employment
- hold a substantive visa with work rights that expires in 90 days or less, or one that expired 28 days ago or less
For people working in agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, childcare, and tourism and hospitality, the visa will be granted for 12 months.
For all other sectors, 6 months.
If the person arrived in Australia on or after 21 February 2022, they must hold a substantive visa with work rights otherwise they will not be eligible for the pandemic visa, unless they have a job offer from a Commonwealth funded aged care service.
Update on borders and vaccination requirements for travel
There are still some COVID travel requirements/restrictions depending on the Australian Territory or State of arrival (including quarantine rules depending on the State). There are two sets of processes to undertake – before and after arrival. We recommended these are checked frequently before travelling as requirements can change without notice:
Before arrival in Australia: see checklist here, which includes completing the Australian Declaration form here. The PCR test requirement no longer needed for travel to Australia since 17 April 2022.
- If vaccinated in Australia: International COVID 19 Vaccination certificate ICVC.
- If vaccinated overseas, will need to present a foreign vaccination certificate that meets all of the requirements outlined here.
After arrival in Australia, follow the rules of each State here.
DISCLAIMER This information is current as of 24 June 2022 and is subject to change with little notice. This publication is of a general nature only and should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.