The Department of Home Affairs has published its newsletter for March 2022. The main audience for this skilled visa newsletter is Registered Migration Agents (RMAs). As mostly temporary and permanent skilled visa applications are handled by RMAs in Australia. This newsletter contains new measures for international students, graduates, changes to Covid-19 visa, Partner Visa and visa support for Ukraine.
So, let’s dig into the details of this newsletter for March 2022.
Newsletter for March 2022 – Visa Support for Ukraine
The Department of Home Affairs is in support of Australia’s response to the rising crisis in Ukraine. It’s prioritizing Ukrainian nationals’ outstanding visa applications across all visa categories. Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has also announced that Ukrainian nationals living in Australia will be granted automatic visa extensions for 6 months.
Ukrainian nationals whose visas expire before 30 June 2022 will be eligible for this visa extension. The extension is free. It doesn’t require any action from visa holders. Home Affairs will contact visa holders shortly whose visas are expiring soon to make arrangements if they would like to remain in Australia.
The Administration of Immigration and Citizenship
The Department of Home Affairs has released the Administration of the Immigration and Citizenship Program (the Program) paper. This paper helps external parties/stakeholders to understand how the Department operates the Program. It provides an overview of the administration of visa, citizenship, border, and compliance programs on a triennial basis.
This paper highlights the recent developments, trends, and environmental factors.
Reopening of International Travel in Australia
Earlier this year on 21 February 2022, Australia reopened its borders to the remaining, fully vaccinated, and temporary visa holders. In addition, it includes Visitor Visas and Bridging Visas B holders, as part of Australia’s safe and gradual reopening to the world.
This safe and gradual reopening of international borders is the result of the success of the vaccine rollout and the implementation of the National Transition Plan. The return of skilled and unskilled migrant workers and international students has strengthened Australia’s economic recovery. Now it’s time to open Australian borders to all remaining fully vaccinated visa holders.
According to Australia’s international border entry requirements, all visa holders who meet the vaccination requirements can travel to Australia without a travel exemption. While unvaccinated travelers can enter Australia under the passenger caps established with the states and territories.
Requirements for Unvaccinated Travelers
If you’re an unvaccinated passenger, you’ll need to:
- Be a part of an exempt category
- Have an individual travel exemption to enter Australia
- Provide a medical reason that prevents you from receiving vaccinations. it must be noted that an old infection with the Covid-19 virus isn’t considered a contraindication to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Quarantine requirements and passenger caps will remain in effect for unvaccinated travelers in Australia. Upon arrival, all incoming travelers must comply with the quarantine requirements of the state/territory where they plan to live.
The vaccination requirement for all passengers seeking exemption-free or quarantine-free travel has remained unchanged since 1 November 2021. For international entry requirements in Australia, the definition of ‘fully vaccinated‘ will still be determined by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
If you are aged 12 or older, you must receive two doses of a TGA-approved vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. Moreover, international passengers arriving in Australia are encouraged to enroll in Australia’s booster vaccination program.
Newsletter for March 2022 – Changes to Covid-19 Pandemic Event Visa
Minister Alex Hawke has introduced changes to the Visa 408 Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) COVID-19 Pandemic event on March 2, 2022. With the new changes, the visa will now allow you to work in all Australian sectors as well as key sectors.
If a temporary visa holder with work rights works in any sector of the Australian economy, they will be able to apply for the Pandemic Event Visa for nil Visa Application Charge (VAC) for 6 or 12 months. As part of the revised Pandemic event visa arrangements, applicants must meet specific criteria to determine the length of their stay.
Sectors for Employment
If you’re looking for a job in:
- The Commonwealth Aged Care sector may be granted a visa of 12 months to stay and work in that sector.
- Key sectors such as aged care, agriculture, child care, disability care, food processing, health care, and tourism and hospitality, you may obtain a visa with 12 months of validity to live and work in any of these key sectors.
- In any other Australian sector, you may get a visa of up to 6 months to live and work in that sector.
Applicants for New Arrangements in Pandemic Event Visa
The new arrangements are only available for 408 visa applications submitted on or after 21 February 2022 by:
- Temporary visa holders who were in Australia before February 21, 2022
- Temporary visa holders who enter Australia after 21 February 2022. They must have work rights or an offer of employment from Commonwealth-funded aged care service at the time of application.
Applicants must provide evidence of their job offer to work in Australia while applying for a 408 visa. They can only apply for a 408 visa within 90 days before their substantive visa expires. Or they can apply for it if their last substantive visa has already expired within 28 days after it expired.
As of 21 February 2022, people who apply after this date will no longer be eligible for a visa. As they’ll be unable to leave Australia due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP)
Documents for the Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be submitted online through ImmiAccount for all streams and locations for applications lodged on or after 13 November 2021. Your application processing time might be delayed if you fail to upload documents via ImmiAccount.
Extensions of the Deadline to Submit Documents
Requests for an extension of time to submit documents may not be responded to immediately under the Business Innovation and Investment Program. Any extension requests will be reviewed under local procedures and according to law.
If you’re requesting time extensions for providing documents, you must provide evidence that you’ve tried to gather the information within the original period.
Business Innovation and Investment Program Processing in Hong Kong
Local Covid-19 measures have affected the Business Innovation and Investment Program processing team in Hong Kong. Therefore, applicants may face delays in the processing of visa applications.
Definition of De Facto Relationship and Implications for GSM Points under Newsletter for March 2022
The relevant rules to determine De Facto relationships in the context of a General Skilled Migration visa application include:
- Section 5CB of the Act – defines a de facto partner/de facto relationship
- Regulation 1.09A of the Regulations – describes four matters which may be considered to decide if an applicant meets the definition of de facto partner outlined in s5CB
- Regulation 2.03A of the Regulations outlines specific criteria that apply to de facto partners. These include requirements that any de facto relationship claimed by a GSM applicant must have existed for 12 months immediately before the GSM visa application.
Schedule 6D of the regulations specifies the General Points Test for GSM visas. This includes the allocation or denial of points based on the applicant’s marital status.
The definition of a de facto relationship is still set out in section 5CB of the Act and Regulation 1.09A for calculating points under Schedule 6D. The difference, however, is that reg 2.03A (the 12 month rule) is not applicable.
SkillSelect System for Relationship Status
(Item 6D112) The SkillSelect system will allocate points based on partner relationship status.
- 10 points to Single
- 10 points to Engaged
- 0 points for Married
- 0 points to De Facto
Sometimes, GSM visa applicants’ marital status changes between when the EOI is lodged, when they file for the visa, and when their points are decided. A change in status might cause a loss or gain of points for visa assessments. For instance, if a person (as a single person) is awarded 10 points at the EOI, they may lose these 10 points if they get married or enter into a de facto relationship.
Definition of Regional Areas for Skilled Regional 489 Visa and Skilled Work Regional 491 Visa
An individual’s visa 489 or 491 grant date is relevant to determining where they can live, work, and/or study.
You can find the relevant instruments for the definition of Regional Area below:
Updates for International Students and Graduates in Newsletter for March 2022
The Australian Government announced new measures to support the return of international students and graduates in January 2022. This is in addition to the measures announced by the Government in November 2021.
These measures include:
- Visa extensions for Temporary Graduate 485 Visa holders
- Removal of work restrictions for all students temporarily
- Refunds of Visa Application Charges (VAC) to Student visa holders entering Australia from 19 January to 19 March 2022.
Newsletter for March 2022 – Final Thoughts!
The Department of Home Affairs has released a newsletter for March 2022. It provides advice about possible changes to both the temporary and permanent skilled visa programs in the future.
In this guide, we’ve elaborated the details of the developments in the Partner visa, Pandemic Event Visa, Skilled Regional 489 Visa and Skilled Work Regional 491 Visa. Further, this newsletter contains new measures for overseas students and graduates.
So, if you’re still confused regarding this newsletter for March 2022, you can book a consultation with us.
- Budget 2022-23 – Support for Skilled Migration for a Stronger Future of Australia
- Minimum Requirement for Visa 189 Points – A Must-Read for Skilled Workers!
- 2022 Framework Review – Tasmanian State Nomination Program for Skilled Migration!