November 28, 2021

Australian Immigration News November 2021

Opening borders, COVID-19 visa concessions, AAT processing chaos, ANZSCO update and more...

Mark Walsh

Another big month in Australian immigration news, with the Australian government focusing on re-opening the Australian international border and rebuilding the economy. Here’s a breakdown of the news:


1.      Border opening (and shut!) and boosted immigration numbers

On 22 November 2021, Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews MP, made a media release announcing the re-opening of Australia’s international border The plan is to allow, as of 1 December 2021, certain migrants entry into Australia without a travel exemption.

Travellers wishing to enter Australia must be fully vaccinated with approved vaccines and hold an eligible visa. The group of eligible travellers includes students, temporary worker and refugees, among others.

Further statements made by Ms Andrews explained the government is looking at a target of around 200,000 temporary visa entrants from 1 December, however a breakdown of allocations was not given.

However, in a dramatic development on the eve of the change, fears regarding the Omicron variant of COVID-19 led to the government postponing the arrival date to 15 December 2021. It will be interesting to see whether future postponement to the re-opening will occur as a better understanding of the threat the Omicron variant places on the community.


2.      Work & Graduate visa relief

Exciting news for a range of visa holders and applicants due within the next few months. Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke MP, summarised in a media release the proposed upcoming changes to the Australian migration program.

Highlights include:

  • Potential options for permanent residency for subclass 482 visa holders in the short-term stream;
  • Relaxation of age requirements for subclass 457 visa holders for certain permanent visa applications;
  • Visa extensions for subclass 489, 491 & 494 visa holders, in response to travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Visa Application charge waiver for certain visitor visa applicants;
  • Providing extensions and visa replacements for certain Temporary Graduate (485) visa holders affected by travel restrictions.

The news is a great relief for many temporary visa holders, particularly those trapped outside Australia on temporary visas. It also gives much-anticipated hope to temporary skill shortage (subclass 482) visa holders in the short-term stream, now glimpsing a clear pathway to permanent residence for the first time in almost three years.

3.      Lifting the section 48 bar

The good news continued in November, with the lifting of the section 48 bar for certain visa applicants. Applicants for subclass 491, 494 and 190 visas can now apply, even if section 48 barred. The news is of particular interest to those currently bogged down in the backlog of Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) review applications (more on this below).

For a deeper analysis of the section 48 bar and the effects of this waiver news, find my thoughts here.


4.      AAT concedes loss of control

Unfortunately, not all Australian immigration news has been positive in November. It was revealed this month that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has effectively lost control of its processing backlog of asylum cases.

The current combined caseload for both refugee and migration review applications stands at over 55,000 applications. The 2020-21 reporting period is notable, whereby the refugee caseload outstripped the migration caseload by 8,000.

5.      Proposed changes to social security waiting periods for visa holders

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has reminded Registered Migration Agents that parliament is considering changes to welfare payment waiting times. Should the legislation pass, from 1 January 2022, there will be a waiting time increase to four years for the following welfare payments:

  • Carer payment
  • Family Tax Benefit Parts A & B
  • Parental Leave Pay
  • Dad and Partner Pay

Refugee and Humanitarian visa holders will not be affected, and the range of current exemptions for applicants in hardship remain in place.

6. ANZSCO 2021 Update

On 23 November, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a targeted update of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). The ANZSCO is a comprehensive list and description of Australian and New Zealand jobs. It is a resource used by the Department of Home Affairs to assess eligibility for certain skilled and employer-sponsored visas.

The 2021 update of the ANZSCO is a result of the review of occupations in the following sectors:

  • agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • cyber security
  • naval ship building, and
  • emerging occupations, such as Data Scientist

For a how-to on using the ANZSCO for your visa application, take a look here.

Photo by Viktor Forgacs 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 you must contact us for a consultation session to confirm if you are eligible for any visa.


...and how will the proposed TSMIT increase affect pending and upcoming employer-sponsored visa applications?
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