Here are some of the latest developments in Australian and New Zealand Immigration Law:
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Omicron’s pausing of 1 December border opening until 15 December
Due to the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant “Omicron”, the Federal Government has deferred the 1 December border openings for eligible visa holders and international students to 15 December.
As reported, Australia currently has 5 active cases of the new variant, and the deferral of the border opening will aim to allow health authorities to determine the threat of the Omicron variant, the severity of symptoms, and the efficacy of the vaccine in response.
Australia has also delayed the reopening of international travel with Japan and the Republic of Korea until December 15.
This means that all international travellers who hold eligible visas that plan to enter Australia between 1 December and 15 December, will need to apply for, and receive a valid travel exemption to enter Australia. Processing times for travel exemption requests are unclear, and we advise that you defer your flight bookings until you have received a valid travel exemption in the event that the pause of border openings continues past December 15.
Refer to the Prime Minister’s press release from November 29 for more information.
Updates to Quarantine Guidelines for International Arrivals
In response to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, New South Wales and Victoria have introduced strict Quarantine guidelines for recent international arrivals on, or after 28 November 2021.
All fully vaccinated passengers who enter NSW or Victoria on or after 28 November 2021, will be required to undertake mandatory home quarantine for 72 hours. Home Quarantine may be completed in a private home, private hotel, or rental accommodation such as an Airbnb.
You will also be required to take a COVID-19 nose and throat PCR test within 24 hours of arriving in NSW or Victoria, and:
- For Victoria, another PCR test within 5-7 days of your arrival. In addition, everyone staying in the same place as you must complete 72 hours of home quarantine and get tested even if they have not been travelling.
- For NSW, another PCR test on or after arriving in NSW.
Passengers that have arrived before, on, or after 28 November 2021, who have been to a country of concern in the previous 14 days before arrival, must go to a quarantine facility regardless of their vaccination status.
Unvaccinated Passengers will still be required to enter hotel quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and must follow the standard rules for people arriving in NSW or Victoria from overseas.
To stay up to date with changes to the quarantine program, please refer to each state and territory’s government website as rules and regulations differ. Visit the NSW government website.
Reported Temporary Concessions for Short-Term skilled visa holders
Ministers Alex Hawke and Alan Tudge have recently announced that concessions for skilled and visitor visas, and concessions for international students and other education industry matters, will be available to make it easier for highly skilled migrants to remain in Australia.
Skilled migration visas
The concessions for skilled migration visas concern eligible onshore skilled visa holders that are primarily working in health, hospitality, and the regions. The purpose of these concessions is to improve access to permanent residence for:
- Existing Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa holders in the short-term stream; and
- Legacy Subclass 457 (Temporary Work Skilled) visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement.
In addition, the Government has recognized that holders of Subclass 489, 491 and 494 visas have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 travel restrictions, and they will be extended as a result. This will give holders of these visas additional time to meet regional work requirements for permanent residency.
Temporary graduate visas
The Government has additionally announced further measures to support the return of international students to Australia.
Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, will be able to apply for a replacement visa. Current and former subclass 485 visa holders whose visas expired on or after 1 February 2020, will be eligible to apply for a new visa of the same duration as their original visa.
In addition, the length of stay on the subclass 485 visa will be increased from two to three years for people under the Masters by coursework stream. VET sector graduates will also receive a two-year subclass 485 visa.
The Government will extend the Visa Application Charge waiver by 6 months for new Visitor visa applicants overseas where their visa expired or will expire on 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2022 respectively.
To find out more, refer to the press releases from Ministers Alex Hawke, and Alan Tudge.
From 1 January 2022, Australians will no longer require a visa to enter Switzerland
From 1 January 2022, Switzerland will be the 45th country to have access to the Australian Working Holiday Maker program and will allow young people from Switzerland, aged 18-30, to apply to stay in Australia for a year whilst conducting short-term work and study.
In response, the Swiss Government has announced that Australians will be able to travel to Switzerland without a visa from 1 January 2022.
To find out more, refer to this press release from Minister Alex Hawke.
To find out whether these concessions may apply to you, book an initial consultation on our website to discuss your eligibility options.