AU COVID-19 Updates
Posted by Myer on April 8, 2020, 11:07 a.m. in Australia
12 August -
We have received an update on the current state allocations for the General Skilled Migration program.
The government has allocated a small number of places to each state and territory, and the focus will be on occupations in critical sectors. They haven’t stated which occupations will be available and the individual state and territory governments will be arranging their lists within the following guidelines:
- Providing critical and specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
- with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, agricultural technology, food production, and the maritime industry
- delivering services in sections critical to Australia's economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is avaliable.
The small number will be in place until the government announces the budget in October, where they will release the immigration program numbers for the follow year. We expect that all occupations on the skills list will be made available to the state and territory governments, as well as a greater number of places allocated by the government.
None of this will likely impact on the strategy we have devised for you as this is just an interim measure put in place until October when we expect a greater number of places to be made available under the state sponsorship program.
9 July -
The Director, Migration Assistance Policy Section, Immigration Policy Framework Branch, Immigration and Community Protection Policy Division, Immigration and Settlement Services Group from the Department of Home Affairs has provided this update surrounding the immigration program:
The State and Territory nominated visa programs will play an important part in Australia’s economic recovery and continue to be a part of the Migration Program. The Australian Government is considering how best to shape the Migration Program into the future to drive economic growth and support job creation. Nominations will be made available to States and Territories in line with these considerations, in the following categories:
· Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190).
· Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (subclass 491).
· Business Innovation and Investment Program.
With regard to the invitation rounds for Skilled Independent (subclass 189) and Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (Family Sponsored) (subclass 491), the Government is closely monitoring migration and visa settings to ensure they are consistent with public health measures, are flexible and do not displace job opportunities for Australians so that Australia can deal with the immediate and post recovery impacts of COVID-19. Targeted invitation rounds have continued each month and prioritise skills which are in critical need and will aid Australia’s economic recovery.
7 April - COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - First entry to Australia
The Department has made some allowances with regards to the subclasses below under the General skilled migration category, namely those who have been approved visas and are yet to make their first entry into Australia.
Once your visa is approved, you are given a date by which you must make your first entry. Given the current travel bans, it may not be possible for some of you to make the first entry.
If you can't make the entry to Australia before the expiry of the first entry date, you will need to take the attached information sheet with you when you travel to Australia. The Department can cancel visas if you don't make your first entry date, however they won't seek to do this if you hold one of the visas below.
We don't know how long after the first entry date expires the Department will allow you to enter, so we strongly suggest that once the travel ban has been lifted , and your first entry date has expired, and that you make your trip to Australia as soon as you can.
? Skilled Independent (subclass 189)
? Skilled Nominated (subclass 190)
? Skilled Regional (subclass 489)
? Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491)
This information applies to visa holders who were outside of Australia when their visa was granted.
Requests for information
Some services relating to the visa application process may be impacted by COVID-19 and a range of services we rely on are increasingly unavailable.
This includes overseas panel doctors and visa medical appointments, English language testing facilities, and biometric collection.
You will be given additional time to complete checks and provide requested information.
Processing and allocation times – Subclass 887 visa
7 April - QLD Nomination Criteria
BSMQ has made following announcement for the Bridging Visa holders: s48 bar unable to lodge due to entry ban. These are applicants who have had a visa refused or cancelled since our last entry into Australia.
If an applicant is currently on a bridging visa and has been invited to lodge documents with BSMQ for a subclass 491 visa, they must notify Business and Skilled Migration Queensland of any past visa refusals or cancellations.
If an applicant has received a visa refusal or cancellation whilst on a bridging visa, they are likely to be subject to a section 48 bar which means they are unable to lodge a state nominated visa (and most other visas) onshore.
Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it not possible to go offshore to lodge a visa application, and then return to Australia.
This is because there is an entry ban on temporary visa holders returning to Australia at this time. If you are section 48 barred, BSMQ is unable to nominate for a subclass s491 visa and request that the application be withdrawn.
It may be possible to submit an EOI again at a later date once the entry ban is lifted if Queensland criteria continues to be met.
6 April - Temporary Skilled Visa Holders
There are around 139,000 temporary skilled visa holders, on either a 2 year or 4 year visa. They were provided the visa to fill a skills shortage - a shortage that may still be present when the crisis has passed.
Consequently, those visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa conditions.
These visa holders will also be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year. Those visa holders who have been laid off due to the coronavirus should leave the country in line with their existing visa conditions if they are unable to secure a new sponsor. However, should a 4-year visa holder re-employed after the coronavirus pandemic their time already spent in Australia will count towards their permanent residence skilled work experience requirements.
2 April - PTE Academic COVID-19 update and Free childcare for Australian essential workforce
The Pearsons testing centres have announced a suspension if testing centres until future notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some centres are still open but restrict the number of test takers for each session. A full list of locations and information about testing is avaliable here.
The Prime minister announced free childcare for Australian parents to ensure essential workers can continue their roles.
From next week, childcare centres will be able to access Commonwealth funding equal to 50 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 revenue (up the existin hourly rate cap) in addition to JobKeeper payments to retain employees, where eligible.
30 March - Wage Subsidy Announced By Australian Government
The Federal Government announced an AU$1,500 fortnightly wage subsidy.The subsidy is an integral part of the $130 billion economic stimulus package announced by the Australian Government in response to the coronavirus.
Although the payment is to be made to employers there is a legal obligation on employers to ensure they pass on the full wage subsidy to employees.
It will be backdated to include anyone who has been stood down due to coronavirus. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the JobKeeper scheme would benefit the hardest-hit sectors.
"This $1,500 payment is a flat payment and is the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the median wage and represents about 100 per cent of of the median wage in those sectors most heavily impacted by the coronavirus like retail, like hospitality and tourism," he said.
To be eligible, an employee must be an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder. It's not extended to those on temporary visas such as subclass 482 work visas
27 MARCH - Vetassess Trades - alternative interview assessments
VETASSESS is to conduct Technical Interview assessments by online video conferencing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak commencing 1 April.
This applies to assessments for non-licensed occupations as opposed to licensed occupations. It means the Technical Interviews can be conducted outside a VETASSESS-approved venue such as in the applicant’s workplace or home.
26 MARCH - COVID-19
Australia has chosen not to go into total lockdown to flatten our curve. Most state borders have been closed and of course our national borders as well.
We are thankful though that the Department of Home Affairs is still processing visas as are skills assessing authorities. State Governments are also still processing state sponsorship applications.
We are fortunate that some time ago we put into place systems that enable us to work remotely and even though my colleagues and I have, for the past week, been working from home we are able to still effectively process applications as they are filed electronically.
When people used to ask why I don’t have branch offices abroad I used to joke that I could do my job from Mars if I had a good Internet connection. I never thought that I might have to test that theory one day :-)
The vast majority of our clients are overseas and don’t need to travel to Australia for the purposes of securing employment to process their General Skilled Migration Visas.
The Prime Minister has tried to limit the damage to the economy by implementing a range of policies aimed at socially distancing Australians without going into total lockdown. It’s a controversial decision and many Australians (myself included) believe that the economic fallout would be sharper but of shorter duration were we to go into total lockdown.
The Government’s thinking is that the vast majority of Covid 19 cases in Australia are as a result of international travellers arriving in Australia and the closure of our borders and the social distancing measures will help to flatten the curve whilst at the same time causing minimum damage to the economy.
Only time will tell whether this is the correct strategy but given the length of time it takes to process a General Skilled Migration Visa application (approximately 18 months) and given that migrants are given 12 months to then visit Australia most of our clients are thinking longer term.
We will continue to use this blog to update you on developments.
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