Immigration Update: Changes to several Australian visa programs
October 17th, 2016
Changes to Australian Visa Programs
The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has recently announced significant changes to several of its visa programs including subclass 457, Short Stay Activity Visas (400 series) and the Subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment) Visa. In addition the introduction of a five year Temporary Parent Visa has been proposed.
Employer Sponsored temporary work visa, Subclass 457
- Currently subclass 457 visa holders who cease to be employed by their sponsor for whatever reason have 90 days to either depart Australia or lodge a new application before they are considered to be in breach of visa conditions and subject to cancellation provisions. For applications approved after 19 November 2016, the ‘grace period’ will be reduced to 60 days. Subclass 457 visa holders who seek to change employers or cease to be employed for whatever reason after 19 November 2016 must take this reduction in time into consideration.
- In a recent announcement to registered migration agents, DIBP has stated that applications not lodged as complete (decision ready) will be at risk of refusal if all supporting documents are not provided within 10 days of lodgement. If documents cannot be provided within that time a document must be provided to DIBP explaining why the required documents have not been provided and when they will be submitted.
The ‘400 Series’ Visas
The 400 series includes Occupational Trainee, Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist), Temporary Activity and International Relations. DIBP has announced that subject to approval by the Governor – General, a number of reforms will be made to this group of visas effective 19 November 2016. The highlights include:
- All applications will be lodged online (no longer dependent on the country of the applicant’s passport).
- No sponsorship is required for a stay of three months or less when applications are lodged outside of Australia.
- Training must be provided directly by the sponsor. Previously one organisation could sponsor applicants to be trained in another organisation.
- The validity period for all approved 400 series sponsors will cease on 19 May 2017 (regardless of the date on the sponsorship approval letter). To sponsor new applicants after 19 May 2017 a new sponsorship must be obtained. Note – this does not affect subclass 457 sponsorship approvals.
- There will be four new visa subclasses introduced from 19 November 2016, being:
- Subclass 400 Temporary Work ( Short Stay Specialist ) visa
- Subclass 403 Temporary Work ( International Relations ) visa
- Subclass 407 Training visa
- Subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa
- Sponsorship and Nomination requirements will be removed for specific short stay activities.
Temporary Parent Visa
Recognising that parents should be afforded the opportunity to visit their children and grandchildren in Australia, the government has proposed a new 5 year temporary visa for parents of Australian citizens or permanent residents. Whilst this visa has not yet been introduced, the proposal provides the following details:
- Parents must be sponsored by their Australian citizen or permanent resident children ( see below for details regarding sponsorship).
- A financial bond will be payable.
- Parents must hold adequate health insurance while in Australia.
- The initial visa period is up to five years but could be one year or three years. The visa length will be determined by a range of factors. It will be possible to apply for further periods of five years at a time.
- The visa applicants must complete a medical examination and pass the health test before the visa will be approved.
- Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
- Have been living in and contributing to Australia for a number of years to ensure they have had sufficient time to become engaged with the Australian community and to contribute to Australia financially. A longer period of contribution in Australia would provide a higher priority in eligibility. Immigration policy currently suggests that 2 years is the period required for a sponsor to be considered as settled.
- Be required to show they can support their parents, if necessary. This will include income and asset assessments.
The sponsorship assessment will be a separate process, and will be completed before a visa application can be submitted. Sponsors will need to undergo a criminal history check and agree to a range of enforceable obligations.
Subclass 188 Visa – Entrepreneur Stream
DIBP has introduced an additional ‘stream’ in the subclass 188 (Business Innovation and Investment) Visa category for entrepreneurs. Applicants must be under 55 years of age and be nominated by a State or Territory government. Other key criteria include:
- Applicants must be undertaking, or proposing to undertake, an entrepreneurial venture in Australia.
- The entrepreneurial venture must not be related to residential real estate or labour hire or involve purchasing an existing business or franchise.
- Applicants must have a competent level of English, and have at least 30 percent interest in their entrepreneurial venture.
- There must be one or more funding agreements in place of at least $200,000 between the entrepreneur or venture and a third party funding body or bodies.
- Sources of third party funding are limited to state and territory governments, Commonwealth agencies, Publicly Funded Research Organisations, and investors registered as a Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (VCLP) or Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP). Agreements outlining funds from a combination of these sources are also acceptable.
- Applicants must have a business plan outlining their plans for their venture in Australia.
An Entrepreneur visa holder can progress to permanent residence after four years if they can demonstrate a measure of success, which includes factors such as business turnover, employment of Australians and ability to obtain significant financial backing.
The forthcoming changes to Australian Immigration legislation is intended to simplify the current visa framework, but these changes will present a number of challenges and complications particularly as far as the transitional arrangements are concerned.
Santa Fe Immigration has a team of Registered Australian Immigration consultants that have the qualifications and experience to advise on and assist with all types of applications for temporary or permanent residence in Australia. For further information or assistance please contact:
Registered Migration Agent No. 1066328
Tel : +61 3 9554 7393
National Immigration Service Delivery Manager
Registered Migration Agent No. 0742398
Tel : +61 2 9262 4477
Immigration Services General Manager
Registered Migration Agent No. 9253612
Tel : +61 2 9262 4477
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