On November 18, 2016, several changes were made to Australia's immigration system, namely:

  • An overhaul of the temporary activity visa framework: Australia's temporary activity visa framework has been modified to simplify the application process. The changes include the creation of a new consolidated sponsor class, the removal of some sponsorship and nomination application requirements, the consolidation of many visa subclasses, and the ability to lodge applications online.
  • Reducing the timeline for stay in the country for subclass 457 visa holders who have terminated their employment with sponsoring employer: The amount of time subclass 457 visa holders have after ceasing work with their sponsoring employer before they must make arrangements to leave the country or apply to remain in Australia has been reduced from 90 to 60 days.
  • Limiting the number of people who can qualify as a 'member of the family unit' to obtain dependent visas: The meaning of 'member of the family unit' has changed such that children and stepchildren over the age of 23 and family members outside of the nuclear family will not be granted a visa as a dependent visa applicant.
  • Introducing requirement for sponsors of certain family visas to complete a character assessment: Sponsors of Partner and Prospective Marriage visa applicants who have lodged a visa application on or after 18 November, will be required to provide appropriate police clearances to the Department of Immigration & Border Protection ('DIBP') when requested and consent to the DIBP disclosing any convictions for certain offences to the visa applicant. 
  • Development of a frequent traveller stream for certain nationalities: A new visitor visa stream has been created to allow tourists and business visitors to obtain visas valid for up to 10 years. Such visas will allow holders to make multiple entries into Australia with a stay of up to three months upon each entry. The visitor must not stay in Australia for more than 12 months in any 24-month period. The new visitor visa stream will attract an application fee of AUD 1,000. The stream will be available to certain nationalities, as specified in an instrument to be issued by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, but for now is only available to Chinese nationals.
  • New checks to ensure visa holders' information is correct and up to date: Certain visa holders will now be required to complete and pass a revalidation check to make sure their information is up to date, that they still meet the criteria of their visas and that they do not pose a threat to Australia.
  • Change that allows Work and Holiday visa holders to apply for new Work and Holiday visas in certain circumstances: Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa holders who have undertaken specified subclass 462 work after 18 November for at least three months (88 days) in the tourism or agriculture industries in northern Australia may be eligible to apply for and obtain a second Work and Holiday visa.

Further to the above, under a new framework which came into effect on November 19, 2016, the following temporary visas are amended or created to replace existing visas:

Subclass 400 Short Stay Specialist visa has minor amendments:

Subclass 400 Short Stay Specialist visa has minor amendments:

  • visa application fee increased to AUD275;
  • period within which the applicant will be allowed to travel to Australia may be limited, but up to a maximum of 6 months.

New Subclass 407 Training visa requirements reflect concerns that this visa program has been misused:

  • new non-discretionary minimum English language ability;
  • new genuineness test;
  • training must be provided by the sponsor, removing the flexibility for a third party to provide training (with some exceptions).

New Subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa for entertainers, researchers and staff exchange among other activities simplifies the process by:

  • collapsing several visa subclasses;
  • requirement for a 'support test' in lieu of sponsorship for visas for up to three months where the visa applicant is outside Australia;
  • elimination of the nomination requirement.

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.