As a result of a High Court of Australia decision, foreign offshore workers engaged in activities such as the exploration or exploitation of minerals, greenhouse gas and petroleum resources within Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the waters above the Continental Shelf will now require a permanent, Subclass 457 or a Subclass 400 visa to continue working in Australia's offshore resources industry.
This decision does not apply to those working in the Joint Petroleum Development Area.
In June 2013, the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (ORA Act) came into effect, requiring all foreign workers in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry inthe EEZ to hold a permanent or temporary visa.
In December 2015, the Minister of Immigration sought to exempt offshore resource workers on structures or vessels (not on Australian resource installations) from this rule. However, the High Court has now held that exemption as beyond the power granted to the Minister by the Parliament.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Affected foreign nationals now require a permanent, Subclass 457 or 400 visa to work in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry, regardless of whether they are working on a structure connected to the sea bed or on a vessel, which will result in a new visa process and costs.
They are also subject to immigration clearance requirements, such as clearance on the Australian mainland before travelling to the Australian resources installation, or reporting their entry to the Department of Immigration seven days prior to their arrival to Australia.