On 11 April 2022, the Prime Minister announced the Federal Election will take place on 21 May 2022. The government is now operating per the Caretaker Conventions, so further changes to legislation will not occur until the outcome of the election.
With the upcoming election in mind, let's look at Australian Immigration news for April 2022.
1. NSW ends hotel quarantine
From 30 April 2022, international travellers arriving in NSW will no longer be required to enter hotel quarantine. These settings are for fully-vaccinated travellers. Find the complete NSW travel guidelines here.
2. Expanded options for visa holders involved in flood recovery efforts
Severe flooding occurred between South East Queensland and parts of Sydney between late February and early April 2022. In response, the Department of Home Affairs has released several flexible options to certain temporary visa holders who can demonstrate participation in flood recovery work.
a. Working Holiday Maker (WMH) visas (subclass 417 & 462)
WHM visa holders who can demonstrate involvement in flood recovery work can now include such work as 'specified work' for the purpose of WHM visa renewal. In other words, flood recovery work now joins the other agricultural/regional work permitted to enable WHM visa holders to apply for a second/third WHM visa.
The relevant legislation permitting the change for flood recovery workers will be available from mid-2022.
For all WHM visa holders, for any work in 2022, visa holders do not need to meet the 6-month, one-employer rule. WHM visa holders may work for the same employer for the whole period.
b. Temporary Work (Short stay specialist) visa (subclass 400) & Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)
Applicants for the subclass 400 and 482 visas will now receive priority processing as long as the applicant can demonstrate they will be involved in flood recovery work.
c. Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) – 'COVID-19' visa
As mentioned last month, the 'COVID-19 pandemic visa' has been expanded to offer stays of between 6 to 12 months for applicants working in any sector, including paid flood recovery work.
3. Protecting Australia’s Critical Technology
The Migration Amendment (Protecting Australia's Critical Technology) Regulations 2022, due to commence on 1 July 2022, aims at stamping out the 'unwanted transfer of critical technology'. The new rules apply conditions to a range of visa holders, including most skilled independent and employer-sponsored visas and students.
'Critical technology' in the legislation remains undefined (the Minister may define such technology through a legislative instrument). However, the emphasis of the legislation is clear. There is an effort to prevent the transfer of information that would result in detriment to Australian national security and public health or interfere with the investigation and prosecution of criminals.
4. New Pathway to Permanent Residence for short-term subclass 482 visa holders
Last month I wrote in detail on the upcoming pathway to permanent residence for subclass 482 visa holders in an STSOL occupation. The Department regularly releases explanatory information about the operation of upcoming legislation. Such explanatory information often does not align entirely with the forthcoming legislation, and policy instruction contradicts such legislation.
This is the case once more, with the release of the Department's March 2022 Skilled Migration Program Update. Of particular interest from the update:
On 18 March 2022, the Department implemented legislative changes to the Temporary Skills Shortage visa. From 1 July 2022, existing TSS visa holders in the short-term stream will be able to apply for permanent residence through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa – in line with the Minister's 25November announcement. To be eligible to apply as a short-term stream TSS visa holder, applicants must have been in Australia between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 for at least one year. Applicants must meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the TRT stream of the ENS visa. The pathway will be accessible for two years from its commencement on 1 July 2022.
The legislative instrument which introduced the upcoming changes will sunset in 2032. However, the policy announcement here indicates the arrangements will only last for two years. On the surface, there appears to be no legislative reason for why two years is chosen. However, it would still be the prevailing Minister's prerogative to make such changes.
Should this 2-year intention be realised, it would preclude future subclass 482 visa holders (in the short-term stream) from taking advantage of the new pathway. The reason is that prospective subclass 482 visa holders will not likely be able to reach the 3-year employment requirement should they apply for a subclass 482 visa anytime soon.
Further clarification is being sought from the Department. Updates to follow.
Photo by Jonathan Ford on Unsplash
The information provided in this article or anywhere on this website is of a general nature, it does not relate to your specific circumstance. This general information must not be used to form any assessment or opinion on individual visa eligibility. For an individual assessment contact us for a consultation session to confirm if you are eligible for any visa.