Over the weekend, we received an update over the much-anticipated changes to open up pathways to permanent residence to those that would not otherwise be eligible.
It is important to note that none of this is confirmed and there are no legislation drafts. We also do not know what the effect of the Federal Election will be on these flagged changes.
STSOL occupations and pathways to PR
In November 2021 Minister Hawke announced that enhanced visa pathways to PR would be available to existing Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482)/Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa holders in the short-term stream. These visa holders would normally not have access to PR. The legislation has not been finalised but the indications are that it will be introduced ‘around the middle of this year’.
We cannot advise further on the eligibility of visa holders or the parameters about the concessions until the new laws are released. At this stage, the advice is that the new pathways will be for all occupations on the STSOL list and not restricted to specific sectors.
What happens with imminent expiring visas
Our industry body has advised that the Department has recommended that the subclass 408 AGEE (COVID) visa be used to enable applicants to remain lawful while they wait for this pathway to be introduced and also be used by those applicants who cannot lodge another subclass 482 visa onshore due those associated restrictions.
Subclass 408 visa – ‘COVID visa’
At this stage, there has been no decision to stop accepting new applications or stop granting the 408 ‘COVID visa’ so for now, people can continue to apply for this:
- If in a critical sector including hospitality, child care and aged care – for 12 months;
- If not working in a critical sector – for 3 months
Extension of Biosecurity Emergency Period
The current human biosecurity emergency period will be extended until at least 17 April 2022. During this time, the Health Minister can continue to give directions necessary to control COVID and this is likely to mean that until this date:
- Unvaccinated travellers will still need to apply for a travel exemption to come into Australia
- Travellers will continue to need to complete an Australian Travel Declaration 72 hours before flying and present a negative PCR test
Disruption with processing times – delays
The Department advised that the processing slow down over the holiday period was caused by absences associated with staff leave and further exacerbated by staff contracting COVID. Processing is now returning to more normal timeframes.
The Department is attempting to further streamline low risk application processing across all programs.
Further information will be provided as soon as we receive it.
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