27 March 2024

Key updates in migration law – March 2024

Holding Redlich


Holding Redlich, a national commercial law firm with offices in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns, delivers tailored solutions with expert legal thinking and industry knowledge, prioritizing client partnerships.
Amendments to migration laws aim to enhance productivity & promote inclusivity.
Australia Immigration
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Recent government announcements have ushered in a series of amendments to migration laws aimed at enhancing productivity in Australia and promoting inclusivity. These changes include a new permanent resident visa program for nationals of participating Pacific Island countries, pathway for skilled refugees to live and work in Australia and extended stays for Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) holders from the UK. Employers should take note of these changes as they assist individuals from these groups in their migration to Australia.

New Subclass 192 – Pacific Engagement Visa

The Australian Government says boosting permanent Pacific migration to Australia is an essential part of its plan to deepen connections with the Pacific and contribute to a peaceful and prosperous region.

As part of this commitment, the government has created the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV), a new permanent resident visa program for nationals of participating Pacific Island countries and people from Timor-Leste.

The PEV's goal is to grow the Pacific diaspora in Australia, and in doing so, enable stronger people-to-people links, as well as creating robust cultural, business and educational exchange. This visa will commence this year and provide 3,000 permanent places for Pacific Island people. The quota is in addition to Australia's existing permanent migration program.

People from the Pacific region who want to access the PEV are placed in a ballot which provides equal access regardless of skill level, occupation or gender. Applicants must also meet certain criteria, including:

  • be aged between 18 and 45
  • have a formal job offer in Australia
  • meet other visa requirements, including English language, character and health checks.

PEV holders are subject to the same four-year Newly Arrived Resident Waiting period as other permanent residents, which applies to income support payments, including Job Seeker.

Providing skilled refugees with a pathway to Australia

Skilled refugees and displaced persons have a pathway to Australia through the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot Program (The Pilot), which is operated in conjunction with refugee support organisation Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB).

The Pilot has an allocation of 500 primary places and is available until 30 June 2025. It enables Australian businesses endorsed by TBB to use a Labour Agreement to sponsor an approved skilled refugee, or displaced person. This may be on a permanent or temporary basis.

Several visa concessions have been made by the Australian Government in relation to The Pilot, including no labour market testing, no skills assessment or minimum work experience required, as well as a reduced minimum English proficiency level and an increased age limit, up to 55 years old.

While applicants are not required to provide a skills assessment or show work experience, the sponsoring business is responsible for assessing whether the skilled refugee has the skills and qualifications to work in the nominated occupation. They must also ensure the sponsored person has the mandatory registration or licensing needed before undertaking any work requiring those qualifications.

Applicants must also meet health, character and security requirements and, depending on their country of origin, may also have to supply biometrics.

Extended stays for UK citizens under the Temporary Skill Shortage visa scheme

The Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) enables employers to address labour shortages by bringing in skilled workers for positions that can't be filled by Australian citizens.

Holders of this visa in the short term stream can live and work in Australia for up to two years. However, the government has modified this for UK citizens, allowing those holding this visa to stay for up to four years regardless of their occupation. This applies to UK citizens or permanent residents who are either an intra-corporate transferee, an independent executive or a contractual service provider.

Employers looking to bring workers in on any of these visas should seek professional advice. If you have any questions, please contact us below.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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