PR for STSOL visa holders in health and hospitality

The Morrison Government is making it easier for highly skilled migrants to remain in Australia and to continue working in critical sectors as Australia’s economic recovery continues.

​Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said these measures recognise the contribution of skilled migrants who remained here during the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage them to stay in Australia.

The main winners from the temporary concession, which affects primary holders of the temporary skill shortage 482 visa and holders of the now-discontinued 457 visa, will be workers employed in the health and hospitality industries, who make up one-fifth of the potential pool of new permanent residents.

These visa changes will improve access to permanent residence for:

Previously, temporary skill shortage visa holders in the “short-term” stream were restricted to a two-year stay in Australia without a pathway to permanent residence (such as cooks).

The measure should provide some modest relief to employers struggling to find workers.

Job vacancies in the hospitality industry have increased by 87 per cent since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while openings in the healthcare industry are up by 72 per cent.

Extensions for skilled regional (provisional visa) holders

The Government will also extend visas for skilled regional (provisional visa) holders (subclass 489, 491 and 494) in recognition that this cohort has been adversely affected by COVID-19 related travel restrictions.​

“Current and expired skilled regional provisional visas will be extended, providing additional time to meet regional work requirements for permanent residence,” the immigration minister said.

“There are currently around 9,000 skilled regional provisional visa holders overseas. These visa holders can enter Australia from 1 December 2021, and they will also be eligible for an extension of their visa,” he said.

Visitor visa applicants overseas

In recognition of ongoing border arrangements, 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 measure will support the tourism industry by welcoming back visitors once it is safe to do so,” Minister Hawke said.

485 visas

In addition, the government has also announced a raft of visa changes to support hundreds of Temporary Graduate visa holders (subclass 485) stranded overseas, including a provision of replacement visas for those whose visas have expired and a year-long extension on the length of their stay.

Education Minister Alan Tudge and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke have agreed on changes that will allow 30,000 students whose visas have expired after February 1, 2020 to reapply for a new 485 visa of the same duration as their original one.

Graduates of masters by coursework programs, who numbered 170,000 pre-pandemic, will also be able to stay on to work for three years instead of two and vocational education graduates will be eligible for a two-year temporary visa.

Students will have their time spent studying offshore recognised when applying for a 485 visa.

International education strategy

The Government has announced further measures to support the return of international students and graduates, bolstering the international education industry by:

  • Allowing Temporary Graduate 485 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.

“In order to excite interest in Australia as a study destination these student visa flexibilities are welcome,” Mr Honeywood said.

“Whether they will be enough to encourage students who are already considering Canada, the UK and US is another question.”

News that fully vaccinated international students can return to NSW, Victoria and the ACT from December 1, alongside visa reform, should help alleviate intense frustration within the international student sector, which was valued at $40 billion in 2019.

However, there are concerns that the delay in reopening borders will have little impact on attracting new students for the 2022 academic year as most would have made decisions about where to study some months ago.

Please note: No further details available at this stage. This page will be updated when legislative changes are implemented and with any further information when it is received.

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