Australia: Wide range of immigration changes take effect
A host of changes to Australia’s immigration system took effect on 18 and 19 November 2016.
The changes include (1) an overhaul of the temporary activity visa framework; (2) reducing the amount of time subclass 457 visa holders can stay in the country after ceasing work with their sponsoring employer; (3) restricting the number of people who can qualify as a ‘member of the family unit’ to obtain dependent visas; (4) introducing a requirement for sponsors of certain family visas to complete a character assessment; (5) development of a frequent traveller stream for certain nationalities; (6) new checks to ensure visa holders’ information is correct and up to date and (7) a change that allows Work and Holiday visa holders to apply for new Work and Holiday visas in certain circumstances.
- Temporary activity visa framework: Australia’s temporary activity visa framework has been changed with a goal toward simplifying the application process. The changes include the creation of a new consolidated sponsor class, the removal of some sponsorship and nomination application requirements, the consolidation of a number of visa subclasses, and the ability to lodge applications online. For details, see B·A·L’s 19 September news alert on the changes.
- Condition 8107: The amount of time subclass 457 visa holders have after ceasing work with their sponsoring employer before they must make arrangements to leave the country or apply to remain in Australia has been reduced from 90 to 60 days.
- Family members/dependent visas: The definition of ‘member of the family unit’ has changed such that children and stepchildren over the age of 23 and family members outside of the nuclear family will not meet application requirements to be granted a visa as a dependent visa applicant.
- Sponsors of Partner and Prospective Marriage Visa applicants to complete character assessment:Sponsors of Partner and Prospective Marriage visa applicants who have lodged a visa application on or after 18 November, will be required to provide appropriate police clearances to the Department of Immigration & Border Protection (‘DIBP’) when requested and consent to the DIBP disclosing any convictions for certain offences to the visa applicant. See B·A·L’s 7 September news alert on this topic.
- Frequent traveller stream: A new visitor visa stream has been created to allow tourists and business visitors to obtain visas valid for up to 10 years. The visas will allow holders to make multiple entries into Australia with a stay of up to three months upon each entry. The visitor must not stay in Australia for more than 12 months in any 24-month period. The new visitor visa stream will attract a government application charge of A$1,000. The stream will be available to certain nationalities, as specified in an instrument to be issued by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, but for now is only available to Chinese nationals.
- Revalidation checks: Certain visa holders are now required to complete and pass a revalidation check to make sure their information is up to date, that they still meet the criteria of their visas and that they do not pose a threat to Australia.
- Work and Holiday visas: Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa holders who have undertaken specified subclass 462 work after 18 November for at least three months (88 days) in the tourism or agriculture industries in northern Australia may be eligible to apply for and obtain a second Work and Holiday visa.
B·A·L Analysis: Employers and foreign nationals should familiarise themselves with the changes to Australia’s immigration systems. The changes that took effect on 18 and 19 November affect a wide range of Australian immigration programs. Contact B·A·L with any questions about how the changes might affect your immigration programs or recruitment efforts. B·A·L Australia will be holding a seminar in early 2017 on the immigration changes through 2016 and the recent amendments to Australia’s immigration programmes. Further details will be announced.
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