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Sponsored Work Visa Program – A further raft of announcements

The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Andrew Giles MP has announced a further raft of reforms to the sponsored work visa program.

These reforms are stated to have the purpose of “tackling temporary worker exploitation.”

Below is a summary of some reforms the Minister is talking about noting we are waiting to see new legislation and will post updates as new information is announced.

  • Section 235 of the Act to be repealed (offences in relation to work). According to the Minister this section has not been used since its introduction in 1994. Offences and penalties relating to employment remain under Subdivision C – Offences and civil penalties in relation to work by non-citizens so if you are an employer or visa holder subject to visa conditions and sponsorship rules you have to keep on top of your obligations and understand what they are. If you are looking at making changes to your company and have sponsored staff, you should contact us first to discuss your business need and achieving them without risking your sponsorship.
  • People working on Temporary Skilled Shortage visas will have six months instead of 60 days to be without an employer. Historically, changing employers has been an expensive and stressful time for visa holder who are not allowed to work for anyone but their most recently approved sponsor. With processing times taking months and cost of living unabated, many people have been put into difficult scenarios of severe financial hardship, and visa cancellation. The Minister has said that visa holders changing employers will have work rights in the interim to start work for the new employer. Changing employment means making a new nomination application, a tricky and complex legal task that requires professional and knowledgeable experts to navigate you through and avoid, as much as possible, the risks of refusal.
  • The time required to qualify for the Temporary Residency Transition stream of the main permanent sponsored visa – the Employer Nomination Scheme – will reduce from three years to two years. We will need to see what the legal criteria is for the visa as, for short-term 482 holders, eligibility will arise at the same time as visa expiry but this is a great reform for workers, employers, and the nation.
  • Every person who holds a Temporary Skill Shortage visa will have a pathway to permanent residency. This is great news and appears to be forward-looking rather than another band-aid concession linked to COVID-19 recovery.


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