Changes To A Number Of Australia Visas Announced

Changes To A Number Of Australia Visas Announced

Without any real fanfare, the Australian Department of Immigration introduced a number of minor amendments to Permanent Skilled Regional Visas, Working Holiday Visas and Distinguished Talent Visas last week.

We look at some of the key changes below:

Subclass 887 Skilled Regional Visas Changes

The amendments made to the Subclass 887 allows for the visa to be granted to applicants who are outside Australia, provided their application was:

  • Made before 19 September 2020 and has not yet been decided; or
  • Made on or after 19 September 2020

This amendment is to ensure that Subclass 887 applicants who lodged in Australia and subsequently travelled overseas are not disadvantaged by being unable to return to Australia during border closures.

Working Holiday Visas Changes

Specified Work Definition

Effective from 14 November 2020, changes have been made to the definition of ‘specified work’ for Subclass 417 visas. The definition for specified work no longer states that the work must be regional, but it must be specified work under the 417 program. This brings it in line with the Subclass 462 wording.

This now means that work undertaken in critical COVID pandemic sectors as the holder of:

  • An eligible Subclass 408 Covid-19 pandemic event visa; or
  • A Bridging visa that was in effect while they waited for processing of an eligible Subclass 408 visa

can now be counted towards ‘specified work’ for a second or third Subclass 417 or 462 visa. This applies to visa applications made on or after 14 November 2020.

408 Visa Definition

An eligible Subclass 408 visa is defined as a 408 visa applied for:

  • while the applicant held a 417 or 462 visa; or
  • within 28 days after the day when the 417 or 462 visa expired; or
  • while the applicant held an earlier eligible 408 visa; or
  • within 28 days after an earlier eligible 408 visa held by the applicant expired.

Critical COVID-19 work includes:

  • medical treatment, nursing, contact tracing, testing and research;
  • support services such as cleaning of medical and health care facilities and equipment.

Finally, if an applicant for a second or third 417/462 visa holds an eligible 408 visa at the time they apply, the new visa granted would allow a stay for a further 12 months after the day that the eligible 408 visa would have expired.

Distinguished Talent Visa Changes

Utilised as part of the Global Talent Independent Visa (GTI) (GTI) program, the department of immigration has simplified the Distinguished Talent visa by combining the onshore and offshore categories into the one Subclass 858 visa. This means that it is no longer possible to apply for the Subclass 124 visa.

Changes allow for the visa to be applied for and granted regardless of where the applicant is located, as well as introducing a ‘health waiver’ provision for applicants and family members.

Prospective applicants for this visa who are in Australia at lodgement will now be able to apply as the holder of a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B, or C.

Subclass 124 visa applications lodged before 14 November 2020 are not affected by these changes.




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  1. HI Mark, any ideas on the 489 visa catehory? My sister got her 489 visa in march but was unable to travel to australia due to covid. How or what should she do to proceed further…

    1. Hi Roshana, which state? (Some still have closed borders to international travellers) Also, just double checking it’s a 489? Subclass 489 visas were closed to new applications from 16 November 2019.

      With all that to one side, the announcement below may assist as your sister will no longer need to meet the first entry date into Australia which for some visa holders was causing some angst.

      “If you have been granted one of the below visas and you are unable to make your first entry into Australia by the date specified in your Grant Notification letter due to the travel restrictions currently in place due to COVID-19, please refer to the attached Information for First Entry to Australia (see the document below).

      Generally, you will be able to arrive in Australia after the initial entry date, as long as it is before the “Must not arrive after date” specified in your visa Grant Notification letter. You do not need to be granted an “extension” to your initial entry date or visa.

      The attached notice should be sufficient evidence for a travel provider to be satisfied that the visa holder can enter Australia as the holder of a Skilled visa. Visa holder(s) may wish to carry a copy of this notice to present to the airline when checking in at the airport and on arrival into Australia. Please note that some delays may be encountered upon arrival into Australia while visa validity is verified.

      Skilled Independent (subclass 189)
      Skilled Nominated (subclass 190)
      Skilled Regional (subclass 489)
      Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491)

      We cannot extend the validity period of your visa. If your Skilled Migration visa ceases and you have not entered Australia you will need to apply for another visa.

      The most important aspect of the announcement is that if your sister has been granted a Subclass 489 visa and your sister is concerned that her first entry date is rapidly approaching, the Australian Department of home affairs has waived the requirement to enter Australia by the first entry date that she has on your visa grant letter.

      She will not need to seek special permission to travel after your her first entry date and there will be no penalties for doing so (Source information)

      Cheers

      Mark