An update from us
Our team has welcomed the new year with most of us back at work. We are continuing our hybrid model working from home/office.
As we are expecting very high demand in 2023/24, we are recruiting for more experienced Immigration lawyers. We have a great graduate intake starting at the end of this month with 4 new young lawyers joining our team as part of our graduate program. Like all industries we are also feeling the skills crunch as many lawyers leaving the industry when our borders closed, but careful planning and training means we are in a strong position to grow and maintain the highest quality of service.
We are rolling out a a new mobility platform MobilityDesk that will provide an enhanced user experience for you, your employees and our staff. The system uses the latest security features and minimizes the amount of data that is transferred and stored. Users enter data only once and can safely and securely transfer documents and data. MobilityDesk processes and tracks applications and visas in any jurisdiction and the platform will be able to integrate all aspects of a move including visas, tax, relocation and travel.
If you are interested in knowing more about MobilityDesk, please reach out to us.
What to expect in 2023
The government’s review to create ‘a migration system for Australia’s future’ is due for release in February 2023 with a view that changes will be implemented around budget time in May 2023.
Our Minister for Immigration has publicly stated that ‘everything is one the table’ and like many other organisations, we have provided submissions. Whilst we can speculate as to the recommendations, the reality is that we have to wait for the changes to be announced. Our feeling is that the changes will be positive and designed to help Australia compete for talent internationally.
In the meantime some updates:
The government seems to be clearing the backlog with around 400,000 visas processed since June with the hope that the backlog of 600,000 will be cleared by April 2023. The Department recruited 400 new assessing officers which are being trained. However figures show that just in the last 7 months there has been 4 million new visa applications.
Current processing updates are estimated as:
1 to 2 months
5 to 6 months
2 to 5 months
6 to 12 months plus
These are subject to constant change and processing is still highly inconsistent depending on the officers and processing centres, as the Department continues to onboard and train staff.
Late last year the Minister released a new processing Direction (no 100) with a clear commitment for processing priorities given to the health and education sectors.
- Prioritises applications in relation to healthcare and teaching occupations, as well as offshore permanent and provisional applications.
- Helps small businesses seeking to recruit overseas workers. It speeds up processing for all occupations and makes the process less complicated.
- Restores priority for Accredited Sponsors in all sectors who are trusted employers and key businesses.
- Ceases the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) and critical sectors but sees applications with occupations that were on the PMSOL or in critical sectors will continue to be processed efficiently given the improvements in visa processing since the Government committed additional funding and staff to reduce processing times.
We have certainly noticed the Department setting a higher bar for sponsors to upgrade their status to accreditation, with a clear indication that the government intends to restore the VIP status for Accredited sponsors to what it was before the pandemic. We will continue to work with clients to achieve accreditation where that is available and to ensure that accredited status is protected for those clients that have it.
Sponsorship Obligations Reminder
As always, a strong reminder on sponsor obligations. We are continuing to see monitoring activities by the Australian Border Force (ABF) with even low-risk and accredited sponsors receiving visits. If you have any concerns or question about obligations and compliance, please contact us to discuss and arrange a self-audit so that you can be prepared if the ABF contact you. If you are contacted by ABF you should speak to us immediately.
We will be conducting a webinar on sponsorship, accreditation and compliance in February and we will be sending out an invitation shortly.
Labour Market Testing Requirements
Despite our low unemployment levels and clear lack of workers in most sectors in the Australian economy, Labour Market Testing continues to be required under legislation and officers have no discretion to depart from these. This means that LMT rules must be strictly followed until any changes are announced (if there are any). We will continue to work with you to ensure proper LMT compliance to ensure that applications are not refused.
Although the India/Australia Trade Agreement has come into force, the Agreement does not provide for any LMT exemption and so LMT will still need to be shown if sponsored candidates/employees are Indian nationals.
Our team will continue to advise on LMT a case-by-case basis.
Working Holiday 6 month relaxation
The government has announced that the relaxation of the 6-month work limitation will be extended until 1 July 2023. This means that working holiday visa holders (or bridging visa holders with the same work condition) can continue to work for any employer or at one location for more than six months without requiring permission. From 1 July 2023, the six-month requirement will be enforced again, however, time spent working with an employer prior to that date will not count. This means that from 1 July 2023 onwards, working holiday visa holders may work for any employer until 31 December 2023 or for six months, whichever is longer, even if they worked for that same employer before 1 July 2023.
Example 1 – employee starts on 1 August 2023 holding WHM visa can work until 31 January 2024 (6 months)
Example 2 – employee starts on 1 March 2023 holding WHM visa can work until 31 December 2023
Global Talent Program Update
Whilst the GTI program was hugely popular during the pandemic we have seen a clear shift in the government’s commitment to this program. Priority processing can no longer be obtained by applicants based in Australia. Those applications are now taking over 18 months to be assessed as applications lodged in May 2021 are now being considered.
Consistent with the priority processing direction mentioned above, applicants who are overseas may still be able to get priority processing (less than 6 months). However, only the highest caliber candidates will be able to access this as the government limits this visa to 5000 spots (including family members). We will continue to assess these applications on a case-by-case basis.
We are looking forward to a big year in the immigration world in 2023 and to continuing our relationships with our clients as our team aims to deliver the best possible service and experience for your employees. We will continue surveying visa applicants and undertaking process improvements in the firm as MobilityDesk helps us provide even better and new services.