Impact of Sydney Lockdown and COVID-19 Vaccination
Given the ongoing lockdown in Greater Sydney, we wish to advise that this is likely to have an impact on skilled migration in the hospitality industry here, as well as skilled migration more generally; the national economy; inbound movement of travellers and therefore, migration flows generally for students, tourists, visitors and family reunion.
We expect that the Sydney lockdown will set these inbound migration flows back another six months.
The Australian government has now backed a plan to introduce vaccination certificates in order to reopen its borders. The plan could potentially allow quarantine-free travel by linking a person’s vaccination status to official vaccination documentation. For Australian residents, this might involve linking to a MyGov account. Vaccine certificates will be made available as a QR Code and are expected to be rolled out by October. For those coming to Australia from overseas, it can be expected that there will be consideration of international standards and mechanisms for validation.
In other words, all intending travellers to Australia should aim to be vaccinated and ensure that their vaccination is officially recorded in the country of vaccination.
Although the government has in recent days been keen to publish processes for dealing with vaccination and quarantine as a pathway out of the pandemic, it is clear that Australia – at 19% – currently lags well below the 80% vaccination rate now being set as a benchmark for ending lockdowns here.
In migration terms this means that people who are overseas should be cautious about committing to migration to Australia; those onshore have better chances of obtaining skilled, student or business visas. Partner and child visas seem likely to be unaffected.
Partner Visa Requirement Changes
The Federal Government has previously announced that from November 2021 it will begin to apply the Family Sponsorship Framework to partner visa applications. This means that Sponsors will need to lodge their sponsorship application first and await sponsorship approval before the visa application can be submitted.
The new framework also requires Australian permanent resident sponsors and visa applicants to demonstrate a functional level of English, or that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP). This requirement will need to be met prior to the grant of the Permanent visa.
However it is still not clear whether these changes are in preparation – given the significance of the changes we would have expected to have seen some groundwork being laid by now but the legislation itself has been on the table for a very long time. In other words, we do recommend that people considering partner applications should plan to lodge those now, if practical to do so.
Concessions for Sponsored Parent (Temporary) (Subclass 870) visa holders
Recent amendments to the Migration Regulations will now provide Subclass 870 holders with a concession of 18 months to enter Australia if they are unable to do so due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. This effectively means that the 870 visa is still not a viable pathway in the context of the pandemic.
Occupations added to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
Pharmacists have been added to the PMSOL for skilled migration, as per the announcement made by Minister Hawke. The relevant occupations are:
- Hospital Pharmacist (251511)
- Retail Pharmacist (251513)
- Industrial Pharmacist (251512)
This increases the number of priority occupations to 44 – a significant slice now of the skilled occupation lists. Unfortunately, we will now only consider preparing offshore applications for occupations on the PMSOL.
NSW State Nomination for Skilled Work Regional (Subclass 491) visas
NSW state nomination for Subclass 491 visa applicants will continue now by invitation only. Applicants must register their interest online after submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) through Skillselect.
Nominations will be processed in the following three streams:
- Stream 1 – Individuals living and working in Regional NSW;
- Stream 2 – Individuals who have recently completed a course of study in Regional NSW; and
- Stream 3 – Individuals with skills currently required in Regional NSW.
Nomination is subject to the current NSW Occupation List. Most occupations currently required in Regional NSW are health, hospitality, engineering and some trade occupations. Applicants in Stream 2 and 3 should note that the occupation list varies according the area of Regional NSW you are seeking to be nominated in.
Applicants may only register their interest during a submission window. For the 2021-22 financial year, submission windows will be open in the months of August, October, January and March.
Register your interest on the NSW Government website.
New Consumer Guides for Legal Practitioners
New Consumer Guides have been released for clients receiving immigration advice from legal practitioners. This document relates to our professional Code of Conduct and details how you may address consumer concerns.
You may read this document by following this link.