On Thursday 25 November 2021, The Australian government announced that it will be introducing rules that will improve access to permanent residence under the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa program for:
- Existing Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa holders in the short-term stream
- Legacy Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement.
Currently, these visa holders have no pathway to permanent residence.
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,” Minister Hawke 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.
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.
The Government has announced further measures to support the return of international students and graduates, bolstering the international education industry by:
Allowing Temporary Graduate 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.
Retention of eligible skilled workers. The changes are in line with the government’s aim of retaining eligible skilled workers already in Australia, as they continue to support local businesses facing critical shortages, particularly in the health, hospitality and other critical sectors.