Good news to our kababayans! In line with the Australian Government’s recent announcement that fully vaccinated eligible temporary and provisional visa holders may enter Australia without a travel exemption from 15 December 2021, there have been updates released by Hon. Alex Hawke, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs on 25 November 2021.
As Australia’s economic recovery continues, the Morrison government is making it simpler for highly qualified migrants to stay and work in critical sectors. According to the Minister, these initiatives recognise the contribution and economic value-add of skilled and critical migrants who persevered in Australia despite the COVID-19 pandemic, encourage them to stay and to continue supporting local businesses, especially in the regional areas facing critical shortages, particularly in health and hospitality. In relation to this, there are visa amendments or special concessions proposed by the government to improve access to permanent residence for the following, from which 20,000 primary visa holders employed in the most skilled occupations may benefit:
• Existing Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa holders in the short-term stream
• Legacy Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement.
Moreover, the media release also includes an announcement on visa extensions for skilled regional (provisional visa) holders (subclasses 489, 491, and 494). These visas are included on the list of eligible travel without the need to apply for a travel exemption.
Additionally, to support the tourism industry, the Government will also extend by a further six-months Visa Application Charge waivers for new Visitor visa applicants overseas where their visa expired, or will expire, between 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2022. This is an amendment of the initial announcement to allow visitor visa applicants outside Australia whose previous Visitor (subclass 600) visa expired, or will expire, between 20 March 2020 and 31 December 2021 to receive a VAC waiver for a future Visitor visa.
In line with the Australian Government’s pledge to prioritise the return of fully vaccinated international students on 15 December 2021, the Government has also announced further measures to support the return of international students and graduates, bolstering the international education industry by:
• Allowing Temporary Graduate visa holders, who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions, to apply for a replacement visa
• Increasing the length of stay on Temporary Graduate visas in the Masters by Coursework and Vocation Education and Training (VET) streams
• Simplifying the requirements for Temporary Graduate visa applicants for VET sector graduates; and
• Extending the existing measure for student and temporary graduates to recognise time spent offshore studying online to count towards qualifying for a Temporary Graduate visa application
Most importantly, travellers should be reminded that the information to Australia’s immigration and border arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic is being updated regularly. This means any arrangement and restrictions are subject to change at any time and at short notice.
(Felix Carao is a Registered Migration Consultant (MARN 1069354), a Qualified Education Counselor (QEAC G028), and an Accredited Recruitment Professional (MRCSA 51889). Call 0412 321 187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.allskills.com.au.)
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