On 27 March 2015, the Assistant Minister for Immigration
and Border Protection issued a determination (Determination) in
response to the decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of
Australia in Australian Maritime Officers' Union v
Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
 FCAFC 45 (AMOU v Assistant Minister for
Immigration) (see previous
Corrs in Brief).
The Determination purports to revoke an earlier declaration that
was declared invalid in AMOU v Assistant Minister for
Immigration, and replace it with a new determination in
On 30 March 2015, the Assistant Minister also issued a
declaration further in response to the decision
(Declaration). The Declaration purported to grant
special purpose visas under s33(2)(b)(ii) of the Immigration
Act to non-citizens on vessels currently participating in or
supporting offshore resources activities.
IMPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYERS
The Determination and Declaration alter the migration
arrangements for certain types of workers in the offshore oil and
In summary, there are three groups of workers affected by these
Those performing "offshore resources activities"
involving a resources installation that is fixed to the Australian
seabed (such as an oil rig). These workers previously required an
appropriate visa, such as a 457 visa. The position in relation to
these workers has effectively returned to the status quo that
prevailed prior to AMOU v Minister for Immigration.
Those on vessels that are participating in or supporting an
offshore resources activity (eg those working on a pipe-laying
vessel). Prior to the decision in AMOU v Assistant Minister for
Immigration these workers did not require a visa. These workers
will now automatically receive a Special Purpose Visa provided that
their vessel has been reported to the Department of Immigration and
Those performing any other type of "offshore resources
activity" that, broadly speaking, involves offshore petroleum
operations or activities. These workers must now be Australian
citizens or permanent visa holders.
While the instruments issued by the Assistant Minister may
provide some immediate clarification of the status of non-citizens
engaging in offshore resources activities, employers should be
aware that a further Court challenge seems likely. This may place
the status of these instruments in doubt again.
We will continue to monitor this area and provide updates on any
If you are unsure of your current legal obligations regarding
non-citizens working on offshore resources operations or activities
and their visa requirements, legal advice should be sought.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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