Visa and immigration update – May 2021

GUEST POST BY GRACE MOBILITY

Listen to the Podcast Visa and Immigration Policies – May 2021 | Grace with Grace Mobility General Manager, Jane Riley and her guest Amanda Tinner, Principal of Visa Executive, or read the article below.

With ongoing worldwide COVID-19 border restrictions, quarantine periods and changes to visa and immigration policies; the Australian Government has been forced to adapt to accommodate this unprecedented situation.

These changes have affected the Family Reunion Visa, the Skilled Migration Visa Program, Temporary Skilled Visas (short and long term), as well as the Labour Agreement Visa Program. In addition, they have introduced aCOVID-19 Concession Visa, a Distinguished Talent Visa and the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce and altered the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List to overcome the economic catastrophe imposed by COVID-19.

While there are several visas for immigrants into Australia, it seems that Australians are currently not permitted to leave the country excepting for business travel.  Compassion, holidays and family visits are also currently virtually impossible to obtain. Due to the ‘bubble’, Australians can now travel to New Zealand, and Visa Executive’s Amanda Tinner predicts that the next travel bubble is likely to be Singapore due to the many skilled expats that reside there.

The changes to the Family Reunion visa have made it almost impossible for families to bring parents into the country. Apart from the visa process taking an inordinate time and often exceeding the life expectancy of the family members concerned, the fees imposed is in excess of AUD40,000 for an individual. This is beyond the reach of many families. Besides, according to reports, there is currently a backlog of over 50,000 parent visa applications awaiting approval, with only 1,500 available spaces.

In early 2021 the Government again reviewed the newly introduced COVID-19 Concession Visa in response to the pandemic, which is available for those disadvantaged by border closures.  For instance, if you have applied for a Partner or Child visa outside Australia but are in Australia during the COVID-19 concession period, you may be granted a visa in Australia provided you meet stringent visa criteria.

Any applicant who is outside Australia and who meets the usual visa prerequisites will be granted the visa outside Australia (as per the current process). Please note however, this concession visa is subject to change and can be repealed at any time.

As with the Family Reunion visa program, the Skilled Migration Visa Program has also changed considerably.  It is now designed to attract migrants who are expected to make significant contributions to the Australian economy.  Ideally, it is meant to fill positions where it is evidenced that there is a shortage of Australian talent.  The Skilled stream also plays an important role in regional development by providing skills and labour which can’t be sourced locally, as well as simultaneously encouraging investment and promoting local spending.

Before applying for a Skilled Migration program, applicants should meet several prerequisites: applicants must be under 45 years old and depending on the employer/industry needs in some situations, according to Amanda Tinner, Visa Executive’s Migration Expert, health conditions may even be waived. The Skilled Migration visa has three variations: Short term, Medium term and a Labour Agreement visa.

Temporary Skilled Visas – short term visas enable employers to sponsor a skilled worker to fill a position if they cannot find a suitably skilled Australian to fill the vacancy. The visa entitles the applicant to stay for up to two years. If an International Trade Obligation applies, the period can be extended a further two years. Hong Kong passport holders may be able to stay for five years. However, this visa can take over seven months to be approved and most employers are not likely to wait for that length of time.

Temporary Skilled Visas – medium term visa also enables employers to address labour shortages by bringing in skilled workers where an appropriately skilled Australian is unavailable. This visa entitles the applicant to stay for up to four years and Hong Kong passport holders may stay for five years. The application can take five months to be processed.

Labour Agreement Visa – This visa enables employers (who have a Labour Agreement) to sponsor a skilled worker for a maximum term of four years subject to terms of the labour agreement that is in place. Hong Kong passport holders can stay an additional year. This visa can take up to seven months to be processed.

Amanda Tinner, Visa Executive’s Migration Expert advised that the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List(PMSOL) has been introduced in response to Australia’s recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic. The list currently has 18 occupations, but this is a live list which will be reviewed regularly to meet the skill shortages in Australia.

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director
  • Construction Project Manager
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • General Practitioner
  • Resident Medical Officer
  • Psychiatrist
  • Medical Practitioner
  • Midwife
  • Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
  • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
  • Registered Nurse (Medical)
  • Registered Nurse (Mental Health)
  • Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
  • Registered Nurse NEC
  • Developer Programmer
  • Software Engineer
  • Maintenance Planner
  • Social Worker

Please visit the Department of Home Affairs’ website for updates as this list is subject to change.

Distinguished Talent visa or Global Talent Visa Program. This program was designed to attract highly talented individuals, with entrepreneurial ideas and cutting-edge skills within target industry sectors, who can contribute to Australia’s economy by driving innovation and supporting the creation of local jobs.

The Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce was also designed to facilitate the relocation of top-tier businesses that can make a significant contribution to the Australian economy, and exceptional talent who can commercialise their ideas at scale.

This visa targets individuals with an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in either:

  • a profession
  • a sport
  • the arts
  • academia and research.

It also requires the applicant to still be prominent in the area, be an asset to the Australian community, demonstrate that they’d have no difficulty in obtaining employment (or being established independently) in the area, and be nominated by either an Australian, individual or organisation, with a national reputation in the field.

Finally, and probably the most interesting visa is the Digital Nomad Visa. Several countries (excluding Australia at this stage) have implemented Digital Nomad visas to help recover from the pandemic’s impact on their economies. So, if you have enough finance to support yourself for the duration of your stay, you can migrate to countries like Barbados, Bermuda, Bahamas, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Czech Republic, Estonia, Dubai, Georgia, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Costa Rica, Iceland, Mauritius, Mexico, Germany, Norway, Portugal and Spain. This working visa entitles the holder to go to any of these countries for periods varying between six months to two years.  A digital nomad, or remote working visa, is a permit to live and work in a foreign country, usually without being subject to that country’s tax laws, and without having to immigrate or apply for residency/citizenship. It is meant to entice foreigners to stay and contribute towards the country’s economy and help generate revenue from lost tourism revenue that these countries experienced during the pandemic.

The above information was true at the time of publication – for further updates please refer to the Department of Home Affairs’ website.

About Grace Mobility

The Grace service promise of Always More is realised at every step of each relocating employee’s journey, from the initial consultation through to arrival support, providing practical advice and a clear understanding of what to expect in a new country or city.

About the Author:

Jane Riley
Jane is the General Manager of Mobility at the Grace Group, where she brings over 20 years’ experience within the corporate mobility and removals industry across a variety of senior roles. Based at Grace’s Melbourne office, Jane oversees a national team of dedicated specialists in the delivery of end to end mobility services. The Grace service promise of Always More is realised at every step of each relocating employee’s journey, from the initial consultation through to arrival support, providing practical advice and a clear understanding of what to expect in a new country or city.

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