After long time in the making major new partner visa legislation has passed and is awaiting royal assent to become law.
The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 passed in the Senate on 28 November and is awaiting royal assent. As of press time, the final version of the bill is not yet available, which may contain various amendments that were proposed for the Bill. Without knowing the specific content of the final Bill, it is not possible to accurately predict the effect of the new legislation.
Even once the final Bill's content is known, the specific affect of the bill on visa applicants will likely not be known until the applicable changes to regulations and policy are made.
Of specific concern is the anticipated change that the sponsor part of partner and fiance visa application may have to be lodged and approved prior to visa applicants making their application. The effect on those intending to lodge partner visas while onshore in Australia, especially those on visas with a relatively short validity period such as visitor visas, is processing of the sponsor application may take longer than an intending visa applicant may have onshore to apply for a visa. Delays in the ability of onshore visa applicants to apply for partner visas could result in a spike in the incidence of Schedule 3 issues for onshore partner visa applicants if they delay lodging their visa application until they are unlawful or only hold a bridging visa from some other type of onshore application.
Of additional concern is the genuine temporary entrant status for visitors who have already been named in a lodged partner/fiance visa sponsorship application - that application would seemingly establish that the visa applicant had an intention to remain in Australia on a permanent basis rather than being a temporary visitor.
The Bill also intended to create additional obligations on current and future partner/fiance visa sponsors, and impose sanctions on family visa sponsors if those obligations are not met.
The changes to employer sponsored programmes are forcing employers to look for further options to bring or retain international talent.
Companies are able to enter into a labour agreement with the government which is a formal arrangement negotiated between an Australian employer and the Australian Government. Applying for a visa under a labour agreement is the only migration pathway for employers seeking to recruit overseas workers for semi-skilled positions, or skilled positions where they need concessions to mainstream visa requirements.
What exactly is a project agreement?
A project agreement allows project companies experiencing genuine skills or labour shortages access to temporary skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers through the subclass 482 visa to meet peak workforce demands during the construction phase of resource or infrastructure projects.
Project agreements are a two-tiered agreement stream; the first tier consists of an overarching deed of agreement negotiated with a project company with the second tier comprising individual labour agreements with direct employers. They are available to project companies that own or manage the construction phase of large resources or infrastructure projects.
Once an overarching deed of agreement is in place, employers may seek to be endorsed by the project company for a labour agreement.
Project companies with projects endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the China-Australia Investment Facilitation Agreement can also request a project agreement.
A project company will negotiate an overarching deed of agreement with the Department of Home Affairs. Home Affairs then negotiate individual labour agreements directly with employers
The Home Affairs Department expands the online lodgement channel to additional countries for applicants applying for their first Work and Holiday visa.
The existing countries under this arrangement are Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Slovakia and the United States of America.
The new countries under this arrangement are: Austria, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, The State of Israel, Luxembourg, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino and Slovenia.
When applying for their first Work and Holiday visa, applicants from these countries must now apply online using Form 1208(Internet) unless the applicant has been sent an email by an officer of the Department authorising the applicant to make an application in a different place or manner as outlined in subsection 6(4) of the Instrument.
There are no other changes from the previous instrument and the arrangements for all other countries remain unchanged.