In the past few months, there have been updates on Australian visas which mostly bear great news to existing visa holders, or to those who are about to apply for their visa. This article intends to provide an overview of each of the six recent visa changes.
1. Temporary Activity Visa (subclass 408) Covid stream can now be granted for a 2-year duration.
The usual grant duration for this visa is for 1 year. However, for applicants who are holders of the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) whose visas have expired or will expire from 1 September 2022 to 1 July 2023, the visa grant duration will be for 2 years. The same grant duration applies for 485 visa holders who are not eligible for the 485 visa Replacement stream.
2. Health and medical exams are no longer required for most onshore temporary visas.
This is great news for temporary visa applicants who are anxious to get their visa granted right away. Taking health and medical exams takes time and can delay the application process. Here’s a list of circumstances where the visa applicant is required to take health and medical exams:
- have applied for medical treatment, temporary protection, or provisional visa;
- expect to incur medical costs or need medical treatment;
- intend to work as (or study to be) a doctor, dentist, nurse or paramedic;
- will enter a hospital, aged or disability care facility (if higher tuberculosis risk);
- are pregnant and intending to have the baby in Australia;
- will work or train at an Australian childcare centre;
- are aged over 75 years (if applying for a visitor visa);
- have had previous household contact with tuberculosis; or
- are requested to do so by the Department.
3. Expired skills assessment can now be accepted within the invitation period for Permanent Residency(PR) General Skilled Migration(GSM) stream visas (subclass 189, 190, and 491).
During the pandemic, there were long delays in getting invitations for the 189, 190, and 491 visas. Most applications were left with expired skills assessments and have not been updated by the applicants.
However, from 1 July 2022, the Department of Home Affairs processed the EOI applications again and have issued invitations for these visas. There were many applicants who were invited but their skills assessment has expired. As per the migration legislation, skills assessment should be valid at the time of invitation. The Department of Home Affairs’ position is, if the applicant’s skills assessment has expired at the time of invitation, their PR visa application will be refused.
The Department of Home Affairs has now changed their approach in dealing with expired skills assessments at the date of when the invitation was issued. It is now acceptable for applicants to provide an updated skills assessment when applying for PR visa under the GSM stream within the 60-day invitation period. This is a result of the decision of Thapa v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs  FCCA 686 (Thapa) where it was decided that the 60-day invitation period should still be considered as the time of invitation.
4. Occupations on the Regional Occupational List (ROL) are eligible to apply for the Employer Nominated Stream (ENS) subclass 186 Transition stream visa.
Before 1 July 2022, the ENS 186 Transition stream was only available for 457 or 482 visa holders whose nominated occupation falls under the MLTSSL. From 1 July 2022, applicants whose nominated occupation are under the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) can also access this Permanent Residency pathway. On 13 February 2023, it was also announced by the Department of Home Affairs that applicants whose nominated occupation are under the Regional Occupation List (ROL) will have the same benefits as those whose nominated occupations are on MLTSSL and STSOL.
5. Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa NZ stream on hold for new applications
The 189 NZ stream visa has temporarily closed to new applications.
No new application can be made from 10 December 2022 until 1 July 2023 for this visa. The following streamlining measures introduced acknowledge that this this group of New Zealand citizens are long-term residents of Australia, have been working here and contributing to Australia’s economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include removing the requirement for New Zealand stream on-hand applicants to satisfy criteria relating to:
- a period of residence in Australia;
- the income threshold; and
- health, given the access New Zealand citizens already in Australia have to Medicare.
6. Longer visa duration for Graduate Visa subclass 485 Post study steam for select degrees.
Here is the new visa duration for 485 visa Post Study steam for applications received from 1 July 2023:
- 4 years for select Bachelor degrees;
- 5 years for select Masters degrees; and
- 6 for all doctoral qualifications.
A more detailed discussion on these updates are available on the link below:
To check how these changes affect you, it is suggested that you seek advice from a Registered Migration Agent or from an Immigration Lawyer.