Empowering Skilled Migrants: Visa Changes for Australia’s Economic Revival

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In a bid to facilitate Australia’s post-pandemic resurgence and to acknowledge the vital contributions of highly skilled migrants, the Morrison Government is rolling out significant visa changes. These measures are tailored to make it more feasible for skilled migrants to not only remain in Australia but also actively participate in pivotal sectors that are pivotal to the country’s economic recovery.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, emphasised that these changes underscore the essential role of skilled migrants who stood by Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. These migrants, who have already been contributing to the nation’s well-being, are now encouraged to stay and continue their valuable work.

“These measures recognise the economic value brought by these critical workers, and their continued presence will greatly aid Australia’s economic recovery,” stated Minister Hawke. He highlighted that these changes complement the recent announcement that fully vaccinated eligible temporary and provisional visa holders will be able to enter Australia without the need for a travel exemption starting from December 1, 2021.

So, what are these visa changes designed to achieve?

Permanent Residence Pathway: The new policies aim to improve access to permanent residence for existing Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa holders in the short-term stream. Additionally, they extend this benefit to legacy Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement.

Special Concession: Minister Hawke emphasised that these changes represent a special concession for highly skilled migrant workers who chose to stay in Australia throughout the pandemic. Their commitment is recognised as they are offered a pathway to Australian citizenship.

Substantial Impact: These changes are poised to benefit approximately 20,000 primary Temporary Skill Shortage and 457 visa holders in Australia. The largest cohorts to gain from these alterations include those employed in the highest-skilled occupations, particularly in the health and hospitality industries, along with numerous workers in regional Australia.

Moreover, the Government will extend visas for skilled regional provisional visa holders (subclass 489, 491, and 494) in acknowledgment of the adverse effects of COVID-19 related travel restrictions on this group. This extension offers additional time for meeting regional work requirements for permanent residence.

As for skilled regional provisional visa holders overseas, numbering around 9,000, they will be eligible to enter Australia from December 1, 2021, and their visas will also receive an extension.

Recognising the ongoing border arrangements, the Government will further extend Visa Application Charge waivers for new Visitor visa applicants overseas whose visas expired, or are set to expire, between January 1, 2022, and June 30, 2022. This move is intended to support the tourism industry by facilitating the return of visitors when it’s deemed safe to do so.

In addition to these measures, the Government is taking steps to facilitate the return of international students and graduates, reinforcing the international education sector. The changes include allowing Temporary Graduate visa holders, who were unable to travel to Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions, to apply for a replacement visa, extending the length of stay on Temporary Graduate visas in certain streams, simplifying requirements for Temporary Graduate visa applicants in the VET sector, and recognising time spent studying online offshore for student and temporary graduates as qualifying for a Temporary Graduate visa application.

These changes align with the National Plan to safely reopen Australia and complement previous measures to welcome fully vaccinated Australians, permanent residents, and their immediate family members back home.

For more detailed information, please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.”

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