Immigration Update for a Post-Pandemic Australia
Updated: Feb 13
There have been a few recent developments in the immigration sphere that are relevant to businesses who employ visa holders:
1. Announcement of end dates for the temporary relaxation of work restrictions imposed on working holiday maker and student visas
During and post-Covid, the Government relaxed the working restrictions attached to working holiday maker and student visas so:
working holiday makers could work for the same employer for LONGER than six months
student visa holders could work for MORE than 40 hours in a fortnight
From 31st December 2022, a working holiday maker visa holder may work with an employer up to 6 months despite any period they may have worked for that employer prior to 31st December 2022. Therefore, working holiday visa holders could remain with the same employer until 30th June 2023.
Secondly, until 30th June 2023, all new and ongoing students and secondary applicants can work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy and work before their study course commences. After 30th June 2023, the number of hours a student visa holder can work will be capped once more to 40 hours per fortnight. Student visas holders and their employers should carefully check the conditions attached to student visas to ensure compliance.
While the above changes curtail the work rights of working holiday makers and students, it is a positive change insofar as it reflects the Government’s belief that we are moving toward a post-Covid “normal”.
2. The Australian Treasurer delivered the Government’s 2022-2023 Budget on 25th October 2022.
There were few references in the Budget to immigration. Relevant to employers seeking to employ skilled employees from overseas:
there will be an increase of 35,000 permanent skilled migration places, resulting in a new total of 195,000 places for the 2022-2023 Migration Program;
funding for the Department of Home Affairs will be increased by $36.1 million over two years to recruit an additional 500 staff to boost visa application processing capacity;
from the budget period 2022-2023, $6.2 million is to be spent over two years to fund outreach and communications, including marketing overseas to promote migration to Australia.
3. Ministerial Direction 100 – Changing the order in which the processing of skilled visa applications is prioritised
From 28th October 2022, the order in which nomination and visa applications are processed for certain skilled visas including subclass 482 (TSS) and subclass 186 (ENS) visas has changed. For each category of visa class, priority will be given to applicants who are outside Australia at the time of application in the following order:
Healthcare and teaching (as defined in the Direction)
Applications by approved sponsors
Nominations in relation to and occupations to be carried out in designated regional areas
All other applications in order of lodgement
While this is good news for the healthcare and education sectors, we envisage the processing of applications from other industries could be materially slowed down as a result, so affected employers should be aware. Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs’ website.