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Update on Australia’s Travel Restrictions

The global pandemic has affected workers from all over the world. Australia, like other nations, have implemented strict regulations on the travel of foreign nationals into their country. 

Exemptions on Australia’s Travel Ban 

In the latest amendment in Australia’s travel ban, the Border Force Commissioner has been given authority to approve travel in compelling and compassionate situations. 

If your work involves critical infrastructure projects, and health and essential services, then there is a chance that you would be approved to travel to Australia. 

If you have a split family or if you’re a temporary visa holder with a prior established residence in Australia and was caught offshore by the travel restrictions You may be included in the travel ban exemptions.

The list of exemptions has been gradually expanded since the initial lockdown in March. The current list of exemptions includes:

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations, and delivering critical medical supplies
  • person with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • person sponsored by an employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).  
  • entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List categorizes the 17 occupations that provide the critical skills needed to help the recovery of Australia’s economy from the COVID-19 impact. Here are the occupations included in the PMSOL list:

  • Chief Executive or Managing Director 
  • Construction Project Manager 
  • Mechanical Engineer 
  •  General Practitioner
  •  Resident Medical Officer 
  • Psychiatrist 
  •  Medical Practitioner nec 
  • Midwife
  • Registered Nurse
  • Developer Programmer 
  • Software Engineer 
  • Maintenance Planner

Visa applications for other occupations will still be processed but those that fall under the PMSOL list will be given priority. Under continuous monitoring of the labour market and the development of required skill to recover from the COVID-19 impact, the Government and National Skills Commission may change and update the list.

What is a critical skill?

If your skillset covers the following, then it is considered as a critical skill:

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations, and delivering critical medical supplies
  • with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
  • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
  • providing critical skills in religious or theology fields
  • sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the PMSOL
  • whose entry would otherwise be in Australia’s national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.

You can request for an exemption through the Commissioner’s Discretion – your request must be accompanied by the following:

  • Passenger details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, Australian residential address, Australian telephone number)
  • Case information: why this case should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption
  • Supporting statement: the request should be accompanied by a statement and evidence of how you meet one of the grounds for an exemption or excise of the Commissioner’s discretion listed above.

One important thing that you should take note of is that all travellers are required to provide evidence to immigration that you meet one of the exemptions mentioned before travelling. 

How businesses are affected by the travel ban

If you are running a business in Australia and want to employ an expat, they must have a valid Australian visa and an approved waiver of the travel ban. But there is no guarantee that the application to travel will be approved as the decision is subjective and there are approximately 20,000-25,000 applications each week. The chances of approval are very minimal so it is advisable to seek out a person who can work remotely rather than having to apply to travel to Australia. 

How does the Coalition win affect the immigration policies?

With the Coalition’s victory in May 2019 Federal elections, the immigration system is expected to continue the past six years trends. Prior to the election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a cap of 160,000 migrants per year for the next 3 years.

Out of this number 30% will be allocated to the Family migration while the remaining 70% will be dedicated to the Skilled migration stream.
Out of the latter category, 39,000 visas in 2019-20 will be allocated to Employer Sponsored skilled visas, which shows an increase of almost 3, 500 places. However, the Government introduced stricter labour market testing, so that skilled migration is only used where an Australian worker is not available and stronger English language, age and work experience requirements are required.

 

Introduction of two new regional visa categories

Within the Employer Sponsored skilled visa scheme, a particular focus will be on the regional areas. The Government will introduce two new regional visa categories (Subclass 491 Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa and Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored) in November 2019.

Under these two schemes, skilled migrants will be priority processed and afforded access to a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists compared to those who live in the major cities. Also, skilled migrants will have a pathway to permanent residence under the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional).

Skilled Work Regional Scheme

This regional scheme will be reinforced by the Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA), which target specific skilled migrants to work in the regional areas of need.

With the DAMAs, the Federal government this year is aiming to provide more attractive incentives to the new settlers in Australia to avoid the big cities and settle in the areas that are not so populated and still requires the new migrants’ skills and expertise.

For this purpose, they have allocated a number of places, to encourage the new migrants to settle in the Northern Territory, the Great South Coast of Victoria, the Orana region in New South Wales, South Australia and Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the Western Australia’s Goldfields.

What this means for you as an expat moving to Australia

Expats seeking to move to Australia now have a greater opportunity to apply for a visa under the two new regional visa categories as there is a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists .In addition, their visas will be processed more quicker than other applicants as  they are afforded priority processing. Expats in Australia who hold these visas will also have a pathway to permanent residence under the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) Visa.
The team at Migration World are ready to and can assist you with all your questions and enquiries regarding the granting of a visa to enter and live in Australia

Immigration System in Australia

 

Immigration into Australia is mainly based on a system that aims to reinforce the national economy, through the acquisition of new labour skills, the promotion of foreign investments, as well as family reunions.

The Australian migration system is very complex, with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) representing the Government entity which selects the migrants.

There are currently 99 visas available, some of them temporary, some permanent, but each of them with different and very specific requirements.

The temporary and permanent migration programs allow people to enter Australia for a variety of reasons – such as tourism, study, short or long-term employment, business, and investment or to re-join and live with a family member.

Everyone is required to have a visa to enter Australia and this must be applied for prior to arrival. Most of the airline companies will not carry you if you do not have a visa.

Our guide, written by Emanuela Canini of Migration World will provide you with vital information required to navigate through the complex issues regarding the immigration process in Australia.

To Download our guide, click here.