The Minister for Immigration, The Hon Alex Hawke, has today announced reforms to the Australian visa program to make it easier for skilled migrants to remain in Australia and continue working in industry sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery.
There have been no regulations or policy details released and so it is very hard to know exactly who these changes will help or when they will be implemented. The Minister specifically identified the health and hospitality industries as intended beneficiaries of the changes.
From the limited information available, the proposed changes will:
- create a pathway to permanent residence for existing TSS and 457 visa holders in two-year occupations who have remained in Australia during the pandemic and are employed in the health and hospitality industries
- extend visas for skilled regional (provisional visa) holders (subclass 489, 491 and 494)
- extend by a further six-months the Visa Application Charge waivers for new Visitor visa applicants overseas to include expiries between 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2022
- allow Temporary Graduate visa holders, who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions, to apply for a replacement visa
- increase the length of stay on Temporary Graduate visas in the Masters by Coursework and Vocation Education and Training (VET) streams
- simplify the requirements for Temporary Graduate visa applicants for VET sector graduates
- extend the existing measure for student and temporary graduates to recognise time spent offshore studying online to count towards qualifying for a Temporary Graduate visa application.
The only information available at this time is through media reports and Ministerial media releases and no legislation or policy has been released. There is no indication of when these details are expected.
This announcement follows an announcement to boost the number of students in Australia, the addition of new occupations to ANZSCO (no changes to the TSS lists yet but could be expected) and the government’s decision to allow fully vaccinated eligible visa holders travel to Australia without an exemption from 1 December 2021.
There is obviously a lot of interest from employers and visa holders and we are closely monitoring the official government sources for officially published details before being able to provide specific advice of the impact of the changes on any particular business or visa holder.
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