July 2021 Immigration Changes and Updates

Migration Program Skill stream 2021-22

In 2021-22, the Migration Program Skill stream will continue to focus on visa categories that will help Australia’s economy rebound from COVID-19, with priority given to visa cohorts that drive economic growth, job creation and investment into Australia.

The three priority categories within the Skill stream for 2021-22 are:

These visa categories provide investment, talent and critical skills to Australia, and are well positioned to assist Australia’s economic recovery.

Related:

Updates to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)

On 22 June 2021, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Alex Hawke MP, announced the inclusion of a range of additional skilled occupations to be added to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).

The PMSOL, first announced in September 2020, was developed in conjunction with the National Skills Commission to ensure a small number of critical occupations are filled to continue to create Australian jobs and aid in Australia’s ongoing recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

The addition of 22 occupations brings the PMSOL to 41 occupations in total.  The 22 new occupations, including their ANZSCO codes, are:

Employer sponsored nomination and visa applications with an occupation on the PMSOL are given priority processing. This will apply to existing and future applications and will allow businesses and migrants to have certainty that eligible nominations and applications will be assessed ahead of other applications.

While priority processing will be given to existing applications that fall within the expanded PMSOL list, given the number of additional occupations there may be some initial delays in the allocation of applications for priority processing. We would appreciate your patience as we work to process the expanded priority applications.

In order to ensure this is done expeditiously, we ask that Migration Agents refrain from making further enquiries regarding the status of existing applications.

The most up to date information on the PMSOL is available on our Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List.

Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP)

Business Innovation and Investment Program changes

On 1 July 2021, changes are being introduced for the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP).

Documentation required for Business Innovation and Investment Program

We continue to receive incomplete BIIP visa applications. To support the efficient processing of applications please ensure that:

  • all documentation necessary to meet application requirements is provided when the application is lodged
  • supporting evidence provided is specific to the applicant’s claims (documentation that is not relevant leads to an increase in processing times)
  • documentation is cross referenced to the relevant visa requirement
  • documentation is certified as a true copy, unless documents are submitted electronically
  • accredited translations are provided for any documents not in English
  • documentation is provided in only one response, if possible.

In processing BIIP applications, we may not request information before making a decision on the application:

  • where the provided documentation evidences that a mandatory criterion is not met; or
  • where no supporting documentation has been provided for an application.
Need more information?

For information about the requirements for BIIP visa applications and documents, see:

Global Talent (subclass 858) visa program

Pathways in the Global Talent (subclass 858) visa program

There are two pathways in the Global Talent (subclass 858) visa program:

The Global Talent pathway has a migration planning level of 15,000 allocated places in the 2021-22 program year. This pathway is for invited candidates who have demonstrated an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievements in one of the ten priority sectors, and the ability to earn an income at or above the Fair Work High Income Threshold.

The Distinguished Talent pathway is also for exceptional and outstanding individuals, however is subject to longer processing times due to having only 200 places in the 2021-22 program year. Applicants who were not invited before lodgement of their visa application, will not be given priority processing under the Global Talent pathway.

For processing times for both pathways, see our Global Talent visa.

Global Talent pathway requirements

To be eligible for priority processing under the Global Talent pathway, candidates must submit an online Expression of Interest and receive an invitation to apply.

The Global Talent Visa Program is designed to complement, and not replicate, other Skilled Programs. This program is not for mid-level professionals or entry level academics. Candidates must demonstrate that they are amongst the brightest and best in their field in one of the priority sectors. Candidates who have skills of benefit to Australia, but are not industry or academic leaders should consider other visa options.

As part of the online Expression of Interest, candidates must provide information about their identity, contact details, location, occupation, employer, salary, qualifications, details of their achievements in one of the priority sectors and their ability to contribute to Australia.

All fields must be completed in full and in English. Expressions of Interest that do not provide complete information in the relevant field, and instead refer the reader to attached evidence, may be deprioritised or closed.

Required supporting documentation includes:

  • Passport bio-page
  • Employment
  • Salary
  • Qualifications
  • Internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement
Global Talent pathway invitation validity

Invitations to apply for a Global Talent (subclass 858) visa under the Global Talent pathway are valid for one visa application, to be lodged as soon as possible within 12 months of the invitation date. Candidates intending to lodge a second application, or applying more than 12 months after invitation should submit a new Expression of Interest.

Nominator requirements

Candidates should also provide details of a nominator with a national reputation in the same sector as the candidate. The nominator must be an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, an eligible New Zealand citizen or an Australian organisation. Candidates without evidence of a suitable nominator will have their Expression of Interest closed or experience significant delays in processing.

Examples of eligible nominators may include authorised representatives of peak industry bodies, departmental heads from relevant organisations or individuals with an exemplary record of achievement in the sector. We regularly verify information provided by nominators.

Candidates should obtain the following information in preparation for their Expression of Interest:

  • Full name and date of birth of nominator or representative from Australian organisation
  • Nominator email address and telephone number
  • Nominator occupation and employer
  • Relationship between candidate and nominator
  • Details of nominator’s national reputation in the sector
  • Form 1000 – Nomination for Global Talent (216KB PDF)

Related:

Employer Sponsored Visa Program

Labour Agreements

Important information on sponsorship obligations for Labour Agreement holders

A Labour Agreement (LA) is a formal contract entered into between the Commonwealth and an Australia business under where the business is authorised to recruit overseas workers, within specified terms and conditions. The Labour Agreement framework is designed to provide a flexible solution to support Australian businesses where standard temporary or permanent skilled visa programs are not available, and the employer’s recruitment needs cannot be met through the Australian labour market.

It is common practice across many industries to utilise labour hire or recruitment companies to source overseas workers. Such companies may be based in Australia or overseas.  While the use of these companies can be an efficient and cost effective method to source workers, there have been recent instances of disreputable companies exploiting and unfairly profiting from overseas workers. In April 2021, the Australian Border Force announced the successful prosecution and sentencing of a labour hire organiser facilitating illegal work.

Requirements of a Labour Agreement

Although there are different types of labour agreements, there are some common clauses built into all agreements that are relevant to the use of labour hire companies and business obligations.  It is important that Australian businesses who are already party to, or seeking to enter into, a Labour Agreement are aware of these requirements and obligations.

Key points on obligations include:

  • Sponsorship obligations for Labour Agreement holders largely mirror those of standard business sponsors but can be varied or added to under the terms of the Agreement.  These obligations cannot be out-sourced to third parties.
  • Labour hire or recruitment companies must be licenced in accordance with relevant state or territory legislation. Information on licencing requirements can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.
  • Overseas workers must be directly employed by and paid by the business.
  • Businesses must not nominate an overseas worker to fill a position where it reasonably suspects, or ought to reasonably suspect, the worker owes money as a result of being recruited. Conversely, businesses must not recover any recruitment costs it may have incurred from sponsoring the worker.
  • Businesses must take all reasonable steps to ensure they recruit overseas workers with the skills and experience necessary to perform the occupations covered in the agreement. We carefully assesses all visa applicants to verify claimed skills and experience – where serious and repeat visa-related fraud is detected this could lead to suspension or termination of the nominating business’s Labour Agreement.
  • Contractual arrangements between labour hire companies and the business must not undermine the terms of the Labour Agreement.
Information to provide the Department regarding use of labour hire companies

We may request information from businesses to be satisfied that arrangements with labour hire companies are appropriate and do not compromise the business’s ability to meet its legal obligations. The general expectation is that businesses will be able to demonstrate they have conducted due diligence when engaging labour hire companies including:

  • having an understanding of the business practices the company uses to source and vet workers; and
  • being aware of any sub-contracting arrangements and that the company is licensed (where required).

Businesses should also demonstrate that they have good governance processes in place to manage these arrangements on an ongoing basis, such as risk or assurance plans to safeguard against possible non-compliance, and to act on any risks or problems identified.

Useful information in relation to managing labour contractors can be found at the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.

Change to ‘reliance on overseas workers’ assessment criterion

An organisation’s potential over-reliance on overseas workers is one factor considered when assessing requests from organisations for a labour agreement.  Previously, all requests where overseas workers comprised 30% or more of an organisation’s total workforce were subject to additional scrutiny before the request was decided.  There are new policy settings, already in-effect, for this criterion as shown in the table below:

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3
Area Major Cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Cities and Major Regional Centres of Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong and Hobart Regional Centres and Other Regional Areas
Reliance on Overseas Workers In any one year period, overseas workers do not comprise more than 30% of their workforce with flexibility according to circumstances of business such as small/medium businesses and industry In any one year period, overseas workers do not comprise more than 50% of their workforce with flexibility according to circumstances of business such as small/medium businesses and industry Not assessed

Employer – Sponsored Visas Concessions

Transitional arrangement for COVID-19 affected Subclass 457/482 holder

To be eligible for a subclass 186 TRT visa you must hold a subclass 457/482 and have worked for your employer for at least three years full time. However, due to COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are adversely affected. As a result, during the pandemic, workers’ hours are reduced or been asked to take unpaid leave.

In light of the above, the government has introduced laws that allow subclass 457/482 visa holders to apply for the subclass 186 TRT despite not working full- time during the concession period. This is aligned with when the pandemic outbreak began. The start date of the concession period is 1 February 2020.

Higher Income Threshold and Age exemptions

If the age exemption applies to you on the basis that you are earning at the Fair Work High Income Threshold (currently $158,500) to meet the 186 visa requirements, you will continue to be eligible for the age exemption even if your earnings have dropped due to COVID-19. The Department may apply the pro-rata income threshold.

This amendment is applicable to all applications made on or after 1 February 2020 and before 24 November 2020 and not yet decided, or applications made on or after 24 November 2020.

Related:

Skilled Migration Occupation Lists Review

The changes to MLTSSL/STSOL occupations are delayed until further notice. DHA have confirmed these changes will not take place until improvement in the COVID effected employment market.

Possible changes to the Australian Migration program- Employer Sponsored, GTI, Skilled and Business visas

Changes to Citizenship and visa application fees

Citizenship application fee changes take effect from 1 July 2021. Fees are increasing to more accurately reflect the cost of application processing.

Applicants will be charged the relevant fee based on when the Department receives their application.

The new fees apply if the Department receives the application and payment on or after 1 July 2021.

The new fees applicable from 1 July 2021 are set out in the table below.

The circumstances in which a fee concession applies from 1 July 2021 have been simplified. There are no changes to fee exemptions.

For further information, see Fees: More Information​.

Citizenship application fees (effective 1 July 2021)
Application type Fee from 1 July 2021 (amounts in AUD)
Australian citizenship by conferral—General eligibility (Form 1300t):
Standard fee $490

Other visa application fee increases can be seen here:

Visa Application Fee increases from July 2021

Skilled Independent (New Zealand Stream) (subclass 189) visa

From 1 July 2021, the income requirement to assist New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders to meet their requirements for the Skilled Independent (New Zealand Stream) (subclass 189) visa will be updated.

While applicants will still be required to demonstrate a taxable income at or above the amount specified in the relevant legislative instrument, from 1 July 2021 they will only have to provide evidence for 3 completed income years out of the 5 years immediately before applying. One of the 3 income years must be the most recently completed income year. Evidence should be provided in the form of a Notice of Assessment from the Australian Taxation Office.

Applications submitted before 1 July 2021 will still need to provide the 4 most recently completed income years.

Australians Travelling to New Zealand

Australians can now travel to New Zealand without having to quarantine.

Related: 

COVID- 19 Concessions to remain in place

The concessions that were introduced in 2020 are expected to remain in place. Read on the latest COVID-19 Concessions here.

Related:

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