Spring has sprung, and along with it, the Australian Department of Home Affairs has implemented new changes to its immigration policies. These shifts have a significant impact on prospective and current visa holders. We delve into three important updates and what they mean for those involved in Australian immigration.
1. The Closure of the COVID-19 (Subclass 408) Visa: What You Need to Know
In response to the evolving challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia introduced the COVID-19 (subclass 408) Visa as a temporary measure. However, as the situation continues to develop, so do the immigration policies. Here are the key changes:
- Closure of the 'COVID' Stream - As of 2 September 2023, the 'COVID' stream of the COVID-19 (subclass 408) Visa is closed to new applications
- Transition Period for Current Pandemic Event Visa Holders - Current Pandemic Event visa holders have until 1 February 2024 to apply for subsequent visas under this subclass.
- Continued Assessment under Previous Criteria - Applications that were submitted before 1 September 2023, will continue to be assessed under the criteria outlined in LIN 22/046.
- Visa Application Charge - A visa application charge of $405 applies
- Pandemic Event Visa Requirement - To lodge a visa application, you must hold a Pandemic Event visa that expires in 28 days or less.
- Duration of Stay - Visa applications submitted will be considered for up to 6 months' stay.
Implications for Current Visa Holders:
If you are currently holding a visa other than a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa, it's essential to explore alternative visa options to continue your stay in Australia or make arrangements to depart the country. To be eligible for this visa, you must hold or have held a COVID-19 Pandemic event visa within the last 28 days at the time of application and meet other visa requirements.
The COVID-19 Pandemic event visa will officially be closed to all applications on 1 February 2024.
2. Removal of Health Workforce Certificates for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in Australia
Recent developments in the nomination process for IMGs in primary care have brought about a significant change. The requirement for nominators to submit a Health Workforce Certificate (HWC) has been phased out. As of 16 September 2023, the 'Visas for GPs' program, which mandated the submission of HWCs for IMG nominations in primary care has been closed. IMGs and their employers no longer need to provide a Health Workforce Certificate when nominating for a visa.
The removal of the Health Workforce Certificate (HWC) requirement is a positive step towards simplifying the process for IMGs and their nominators. It makes it easier for IMGs to contribute to Australia's healthcare system and for employers to fill essential healthcare roles.
3. The Drastic Reductions in Australian State Nomination Allocations
In a surprising development, the Department of Home Affairs has announced significant cuts in state nomination allocations for Australian states and territories. Despite the government's ambitious migration targets for the 2023-24 financial year, the published allocations fall significantly short, raising questions about the government's immigration strategy.
The reduction in state nomination places is expected to intensify competition among prospective migrants and could hinder the ability of states and territories to address skill shortages and support their local economies. The exact reasons for these allocation cuts remain uncertain.
The landscape of Australian immigration is evolving rapidly. Whether you're a current visa holder, a prospective migrant, or an employer, staying informed about these updates is crucial. As these changes continue to unfold, it's essential to adapt and plan accordingly. The Department of Home Affairs' commitment to adjusting immigration policies to meet the needs of the country underscores the importance of keeping a close eye on immigration developments.