New health requirements mean processing delays, especially for subclass 457 visas

The immigration department has introduced a new health matrix which adopts a two category approach, replacing the previous classification of ‘low’, ‘medium’ and ‘high’ risk countries. It also updates the medical assessments that are required under this new two category approach.

Under the new system, visa applicants from over 100 countries considered ‘safe’ will generally not be required to undergo health checks for stays in Australia of six months or less.

No examinations will be required for temporary visa applicants unless:

  • They are from a country where health examinations are required and their visa will provide for a stay period of 6 months or more (in which case both an x-ray and medical examination will be required); or
  • Special significance applies.

Other important changes include:

  • The automated re-use of previous health examinations;
  • Re-use and expiry restrictions;
  • Removal of extra tests required for being in a ‘classroom situation’;
  • New TB testing arrangements for some children aged between 2 and 10.

A copy of the new health matrix can be found at the following link: https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2015L01826/Download

The new health requirements have commenced on 20 November 2015.

Timeframe to commence work on 457 visa

Effective 1 December 2015, the holder of a subclass 457 visa must commence work within 90 days after arriving in Australia or within 90 days after being granted the visa, if onshore at the time of grant.

Visitor visa – 12 month maximum stay on combined visas

A subclass 600 visa may only be granted, if the combined stay with one or more visitor visas, working holiday visa, work and holiday visa or bridging visa does not exceed a total of 12 months combined stay in Australia. Exceptional circumstances must exist to be granted a period exceeding 12 months.

These changes have come into effect on 21 November 2015.

Three months employment for second Working Holiday visa

Effective 1 December 2015, the three months specified work performed in order to gain a second Working Holiday visa must be appropriately remunerated in accord with relevant awards. The work will be calculated as the full-time equivalent of 88 days.

Extension of six-month work rights for Working Holiday visa holders

Typically, subclass 417 visas attract condition 8547 which limits work for any one employer to 6 months. Exemptions can be gained from this time limit for au pairs and in other limited exceptional circumstances.

Au Pairs

Au pairs who can demonstrate they have worked for a family with young children for 6 months, can be approved a further 6 months’ employment (total 12 months).

Other exceptional circumstances

  • While the WHV holder is waiting for the decision on a visa that can be granted onshore for example 457, 820, 402, 86, 187;
  • While the WHV holder is receiving workers compensation as a result of a workplace injury;
  • While undertaking disaster recovery work following a declared major disaster;
  • In circumstances where the workplace has been affected by a major disaster and the visa holder was unable to attend work due to the disaster.

Enhanced visa arrangements for Indonesian visitors

Next year, the Australian Government will introduce an option of a three-year, multiple-entry visa for Indonesian visitors. This is an extension of the current one year visa and is designed to enhance tourism and business links between Australia and Indonesia.

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