Specified Work Amendment for SC 417 and SC 462 visas

Following on from the Department’s announcement in late December 2023 that the Australian government is reviewing our Working Holiday Visa program as part of our Migration Strategy, the Department has updated the definitions of “specified work” for the Subclass 417 Working Holiday Visa and Subclass 462 Work and Holiday Visa.

Migration Legislation Amendment (Specified Work and Areas for Subclass 417 and 462 Visas) Instrument (LIN 24/020) 2024 extends the regulations’ definition of “specified subclass 417 work” and “specified 462 work” beyond flood and bushfire recovery to include other forms of natural disasters, such as cyclones or other severe weather.

In addition, the update expanded the areas in Australia where recovery work can be undertaken, as well as counting recovery work carried out in regions affected by bushfires, floods, cyclones or severe storms from 31 December 2021 as specified work.

Furthermore, the Department has also updated its website to include the changes made in this instrument.  The website now states that working holidaymakers are allowed to count paid or voluntary work for natural disaster recovery as specified work.  This also includes work in declared cyclone or severe weather-affected areas.  This update allows natural disaster recovery work to count as “specified work” when applying for a second or third WHV visa.

These updates apply to applications for 417 or 462 visas that have been lodged but not finalised before 2 February 2024, as well as new applications made on or after 2 February 2024.

Working Holidaymakers need to have carried out the recovery work from 31 December 2021 in the specified disaster areas.  The Department will also continue to recognize bushfire recovery work carried out since 31 July 2019 and flood recovery work carried out since 31 December 2021.

These updates are highly welcomed as the recovery work in these regions is ongoing and there are continuing severe skill shortages in those areas.  As Australia continues to experience unpredictable and extreme weather every year, we commend the Department’s initiatives to provide more support in these regions, including the encouragement of WHV holders to undertake recovery work in these regions.

We look forward to the Department’s further updates to the WHV programme and how the changes may support regional areas more effectively.

WA General Skill Migration nomination application closure for 2023-24

Western Australia state government has stopped accepting new applications for General Skilled Migration for the rest of the 2023-24 programme year as the number of applications received has now exceeded the available allocation.  Existing applications submitted before 2 February 2024 are still being assessed under the existing eligibility criteria, and nominations will be issued, subject to availability.

WA Migration Service will reach out to affected applicants whose eligible applications lodged before the program closure cannot be considered as part of the 2023-24 program year.

The WA Migration Service states that they are continuing to advocate the allocation of nomination numbers that are appropriate for the needs of the State.

To provide a bit of context, for the 2023-24 program year, WA was only allocated 1,500 nominations for the Subclass 190 and 850 for the Subclass 491 programs.  In comparison to NSW’s 2,650 nominations for 190 and 1,500 for 491 programs.  NT received 250 for 190 and 400 for 491, while ACT and Tasmania both received 600 for 190 and 600 for 491. For more details, you can visit the Department’s website.

The Department’s allocations are skewed towards NSW and Victoria as they hold the majority of the state nomination allocations.  Other states and territories have long argued that the allocations are unfair as they are not sufficient to meet the needs of their states.  Most states opened their state sponsorship program in September 2023 and with how fast WA and NT’s nomination programs have closed already, it is clear that the allocations provided to these regions are not enough to meet their requirements.  It is important for the Department to reconsider the best way to allocate state nominations, especially if they wish to increase immigration to more regional and “less attractive” states/territories.

For affected applicants or people who have submitted an Expression of Interest for WA state nomination, we strongly recommend checking your visa expiry date and considering other visa options.  Please reach out to Gilton Valeo Lawyers if you would like to have a consultation on your immigration pathways.

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