New visa concessions offer permanent residency pathways for select skilled migrants and post-study visa rights for returning international students

On 25 November 2021, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke announced new special temporary concessions for around 200,000 highly skilled visa holders in Australia.

 

These positive changes will take affect gradually from 1 December 2021 to 1 July 2022 and will primarily benefit the following visa holder groups:

 

  1. Temporary Skills Shortage visa (subclass 482) (TSS) and Legacy TSS (subclass 457) visa

 

The concession presents an exciting opportunity for 20,000 skilled migrants who remained in Australia during the pandemic, to be eligible for permanent residency. This will apply to:

 

  • primary holders of the TSS (short-term stream) who will no longer be subject to the two-year stay limitation in Australia; and
  • primary visa holders of the now discontinued subclass 457 visa who previously did not meet the age cap.

 

  1. Skilled Regional (provisional) visa (subclass 489, 491 and 494)

 

Current and expired visa holders of the skilled regional provisional visas, including the 9,000 holders who have remained overseas and unable to travel to Australia due to COVID border restrictions, will now be able to apply for a visa extension; offering additional time to meet the regional work requirements for a permanent residency application.

 

  1. Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485)

 

The new concessions delivers targeted measures in support of Australia’s international education sector by awarding further study and post-study visa rights for students returning in the 2022 academic year including:

 

  • 30,000 current and former subclass 485 visa holders, whose visas expired on or after 1 February 2020 and unable to enter Australia due to border restrictions, will be able to seek a replacement subclass 485 visa to remain in Australia to live, study or work after graduation;

 

  • The stay period for students completing a masters by coursework will be extended permanently to three years to match that of masters by research graduate;

 

  • Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also be receiving a two-year Subclass 485 visa.

 

  • Students who spent time completing online studies while offshore will continue to have their study recognised in meeting qualification requirements for the subclass 485 under the extension of existing measures; and

 

  • Streamlined application processing with the removal of the skills occupation list nomination requirements for the subclass 485 from 1 July 2022.

 

TANG LAW is pleased to hear of the Government’s continued recognition of skilled migrant workers and the return of international students to Australia in support of our COVID economic recovery efforts coming into the new year.

 

The Migration Team of TANG LAW has significant experience in preparing and lodging a variety of visa applications. If you would like to see advice on your immigration options, give us a call today and we can help you find the best pathway for your migration journey to Australia.

 

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Exciting New Changes at Australia’s Border

TANG LAW is pleased to hear of a selection of new, long-awaited updates to border policies in Australia.

International Borders Re-opening

On 1 October 2021, the Australian Government announced its intention to begin the gradual process of opening its international borders conditional on the success of the nationwide vaccination plan for States and Territories reaching 80% full vaccination rates.

NSW will kick off this process from the start of November, with fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents permitted to leave and re-enter the State still having to quarantine for 14 days and get a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours upon arrival. These restrictions will be removed upon the state reaching 90% full vaccination levels. Those under 12 years old and exempt from getting the vaccinations will be receiving a ‘recognised vaccination’ permitting them to travel.

However, the implementation and quarantine arrangements of this policy will vary nationwide with many jurisdictions not due to reach the full vaccinate rates until December 2021 and some may enforce home quarantine programs on re-entering Australia. WA Premier Mark McGowan has stated to not expect the State will open its borders until 2022.

Temporary Visa Holders

Under these rules from November, those holding a temporary visa will generally be permitted to leave the country, but still subject to restrictions in re-entering Australia. The Australian Government has yet to make a decision on the following groups of visa holders:

  • Skilled visas;
  • Student visas; or
  • International visitors travelling under an ETA or international visa arrangement.

Therefore, travel to Australia will generally not be open to temporary residents during the initial stages of this border re-opening policy and such changes not expected to be introduced until next year.

Travel Exemptions Update

On 15 October 2021, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that parents of Australian citizens and permanent citizens will be classified as immediate family for purposes of travel exemptions to enter Australia.

This is great news for many families who have been seeking options for their mothers and/or fathers to join them in Australia since the start of pandemic restrictions from March 2020. These updates also come as hopeful news for many in time for Christmas celebrations!

The Migration team at TANG LAW has significant experience in preparing and lodging a variety of visa applications. If you would like to seek advice on your immigration options, give us a call today and we can help you find the best pathway for your migration journey to Australia.

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Veterinarians Added to Department of Home Affairs’ Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

The Migration Team at Tang Law are pleased to hear of the proposed addition of veterinarians to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).

We understand there is substantial demand for skilled veterinarians nationally, and the Australian labour market is unable to fill these gaps.

Tang Law has substantial experience in assisting veterinarians and employers with finding suitable visa options.

We look forward to the Australian government adding this occupation to the PMSOL.


About Writer

Sophie Manera is a Partner and Registered Migration Agent at Tang Law. She practices exclusively in immigration law. She is also the Vice-President of the Migration Institute of Australia’s Western Australia State Committee.

Sophie represents visa applicants, sponsors and businesses in lodging applications, attending to complex migration matters, making submissions to the Department of Home Affairs, and representing applicants in the tribunals and courts.

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Federal Budget - Migration Planning Update

Australia Federal Budget 2020/21 – Migration Program Updates

Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the number of net overseas migration has been significantly affected in Australia. While net overseas migration was planned to be 271,300 this year, it is now expected to fall to just 35,000 in 2020-2021.

The Government is well aware of the positive impact which migration has on the Australian economy. The government has sought to address the impact which COVID-19 has had on the Australian economy by making some changes to the Australian Migration Program and Planning Levels. Below is a summary of the main factors that have been addressed in relation to Australian migration and the 2020 budget:

2020-2021 Migration Program Levels

The current cap of 160,000 will stay in place. However, there will be a focus on family stream visas with an increase from 47,732 places to 77,300. This will be applicable for the 2020-21 migration program only and can be expected to return to the lower cap next migration program.

Onshore visa applications and partner visa applicants whose sponsors live in designated reginal areas of Australia will be prioritised by the Department for the 2020-21 migration program.

The Employer Sponsored, Global Talent, and Business Innovation and Investment Program will have priority placed on the skilled streams for this year migration program.

Further information can be found at: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/what-we-do/migration-program-planning-levels

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NEW SUBCLASS 494 SKILLED EMPLOYER SPONSORED VISA – ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?

 

Subclass 494 visa will replace the 187 (RSMS) visa on 16 November 2019.

This is a 5 year provisional visa.  If you meet the visa conditions, you can apply for subclass 191 permanent visa.

Are you eligible for 494 visa?

You must meet the following:

  • Your employer must be located in a designated regional area of Australia and have obtained approval from the Regional Certifying Body (RCB) in your area.
    • (NOTE: The entire State of Western Australia becomes regional area on 16 November 2019)
  • Your position is on the relevant occupation list. There is over 700 occupations listed in the instrument for 494 visa.
    • The position must be full-time, genuine and likely to be available for five years
    • You must be paid at the market salary rate
  • You hold and obtain positive skills assessment.
  • You have at least three years of full time and relevant skilled work experience.
  • You are under 45 years of age
  • You must demonstrate Competent English

Pathway to Permanent Residency!

You can apply for subclass 191 (Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional)) visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You hold 494 or 491 visa.
  • You have worked in the designated regional area for at least three years.
  • Either you or your partner made an income of at least $53,900 annually for past three years.

Difference between 494 Visa and 187 Visa

There are 2 main differences compared to the subclass 187 (RSMS) visa:

  1. 494 visa is a provisional visa, not a permanent visa.
  2. You do NOT require the employer’s nomination to apply for the 191 visa.

Are you on 482 Visa?

IF:

  1. You are on 482 visa (especially short-term 2 year visa);

AND

  1. You are on the new 494 visa occupation list;

You should consider switching to 494 visa as soon as possible, as the new 494 visa will give you a pathway to permanent residency through subclass 191 visa, whereas the subclass 482 (short term) visa does NOT allow you to apply for permanent visa.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Kelvin Tang has over 14 years’ experience practising law in Western Australia. He is the founder and Principal Partner of Tang Law based in Perth, Western Australia. Kelvin is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN: 1386452) and has extensive experience in providing migration advice to clients, advising on “Eligible Businesses” within the definition of the Migration Regulations, assisting migrants (investor of the business) with satisfying migration requirements, making visa applications and appealing cancelled or refused visas in the Federal Court of Australia, Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Migration Review Tribunal. Kelvin also has extensive experience in civil litigation, commercial and corporate law matters.

 
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