Australia: Temporary visa categories to be consolidated and simplified

Further to the Australian government's aim to simplify the visa process, a new temporary visa framework will come into effect November 19, 2016 that will consolidate seven temporary visas into four subclasses and one sponsorship class. Online filing will also be extended to all sponsored temporary visas and all Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist)(subclass 400) visas.

Australia: Oil and gas sector workers now require visa

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.

Australia: New visa pathway for entrepreneurs

Qualified entrepreneurs with financial backing and successful entrepreneurial activities will be eligible for a new visa pathway in the Business Innovation and Investment Visa program on September 10, 2016.

Australia: Changes to eligibility criteria and benefits for accredited sponsorship

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) announced a new set of eligibility criteria and benefits for companies holding Accredited Sponsorship status.

Australia: New criteria for subclass 457 visa sponsors and streamlined processing program forthcoming

On July 1, 2016, the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection will implement new qualifying criteria for Accredited Sponsors and will reduce the requisite volume of applications that a sponsor must file to qualify for Accredited Sponsor status.  Additionally, a streamlined processing program for eligible subclass 457 Accredited Sponsors will become available on that date.

Australia: New law requires declaration against discriminatory recruitment practices

A new rule requires sponsors submitting subclass 457 visa applications on or after April 19, 2016 or those awaiting approval as of that date to submit a declaration that they will not engage in recruitment practices that discriminate against potential employees on the grounds of immigration status or citizenship.

The addition of the new sponsorship obligation will allow the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to impose fines on sponsors that violate or do not comply with the new rule on or after April 19.

Argentina: U.S. tourists and business travellers temporarily exempt from reciprocity fee

U.S. citizens are exempt from a reciprocity fee for stays up to 90 days until June 22, 2016, or until an Executive Order is issued to permanently revoke the fee.

Typically, U.S. citizens, Canadian and Australian nationals are visa-exempt for stays up to 90 days, including business visits, but they must pay a reciprocity fee upon arrival. The reciprocity fee for U.S. citizens was USD 160.  Australian and Canadian nationals must still pay the reciprocity fee.

US: Extension of work authorization now available to H-1B1s and E-3s with timely-filed application to extend a stay

Chilean and Singaporean H-1B1 and Australian E-3 non-immigrants who are being sponsored for an extension of their stay will benefit from extended work authorization benefits. 

The extension of work authorization is available through a new regulation that was published on January 15, 2016 and is now in effect.

UK: Health Surcharge exemption eliminated for Australian and New Zealand nationals

On or after April 6, 2016, Australian and New Zealand nationals seeking to stay in the United Kingdom for more than six months or renewing their visa in country will be required to pay the immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application.  In April 2015, the UK government introduced an Immigration Health Surcharge to all non-EEA nationals, which at the time exempted Australian and New Zealand nationals who were in the United Kingdom for a year or less.

Australian and New Zealand nationals will still not be charged for emergency treatment.

Australia – Current visa processing times

We have noticed a gradual increase in processing times for decisions to be made by the Australian Department of Immigration so we are sending you the current published processing times to enable you to make the best informed decision about the time frame involved in your expatriate movements to Australia.

UK: Registered Traveller service expanded

The Home Office has announced the expansion of the Registered Traveller service to eligible foreign nationals from Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Additionally, Registered Traveller members will be able to use ePassport Gates and EU/UK lanes at Bristol and Cardiff Airports in the coming months.  


The Registered Traveller service was introduced in April 2015 to travellers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States who hold a UK visa or have visited the United Kingdom at least four times in the previous two years.

Applications are submitted online and once accepted, travellers with biometric passports can use ePassport Gates and EU/UK lanes at Eurostar terminals at Paris, Brussels and Lille and the following airports

USA: USCIS to provide extension of work authorization to H-1B1s and E-3s with timely-filed application to extend a stay

USCIS will soon provide extended work authorization benefits to Chilean and Singaporean H-1B1 and Australian E-3 non-immigrants who are being sponsored for an extension of their stay, under a final rule that will be published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2016.  The regulation will also update evidence requirements for EB-1 outstanding professor or researcher petitions.  The rule – which has been in development for several years – will take effect on February 14, 2016.

Australia: New penalty system for visa payments now in effect

A new criminal and civil penalty regime that was anticipated to come into effect by May 30, 2016 has been introduced earlier than expected and now makes it illegal for a sponsor to be paid by visa applicants for certain immigration events. The laws have also led to changes in nomination and visa criteria to facilitate the practical effect of the new system.

Effective December 14, 2015, visa nominators and applicants must certify whether or not they have engaged in any of the prescribed illegal conduct in relation to each visa application.

Australia: Purchase of housing for 457 visa holders increased from 1st December

From 1 December 2015 there will be a fee for all foreign investment applications, including 457 visa holders who wish to purchase a house in Australia.

For a property where the value is up to AUD $1 million, the 457 visa holder will pay the Australian Government an extra AUD $5000 AUD.  This fee will increase according to the value of the property purchased and the relevant fees are tabled below.


Why is this happening?

Due to the recent increased scrutiny of overseas citizens purchasing property in Australia without seeking FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) approval, it has come to the attention that there has been abuse of the process.

The Australian Government needs money and 457 visa holders are not permitted to vote and so the Australian Government have provided $47.5 million over four years to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to improve compliance and strengthen the enforcement of these rules.


What does this mean for foreign national and employers?

A Fact Sheet provided by FIRB giving full details of the penalties can be found here.

Australia: New law implements penalty system for payment for visas

A new law implements a criminal and civil penalty regime that makes it illegal to ask for, receive, offer or provide payment or other benefits to a sponsor in return for a range of 'sponsorship-related events.'  The new regime applies to temporary sponsored work visas and skilled permanent employer-sponsored visas, including the subclass 457 visa, Employer Nomination Scheme subclass 186 visa and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme subclass 187 visa.

This legislation is a response to recommendations of the subclass 457 independent review panel held in 2014, and is likely to come into effect by May 30, 2016.

Australia: Changes to 457 visa program to take effect 1 December 2015

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has announced changes to the 457 program to strengthen work agreement and enterprise agreement requirements, and provide further clarification on existing 457 visa conditions. The changes will take effect from 1 December 2015. 

From 1 December 2015, changes to the 457 visa regulations will be implemented to clarify and strengthen existing policy in relation to work agreements, enterprise agreements and some 457 visa conditions. These changes are largely a response to the negotiation and implementation of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

Australia: Changes to health requirements for all Australian visas to take effect on 20 November 2015

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has announced a number of changes to health requirements for Australian visa applications, to take effect from 20 November 2015. As part of the changes, a new health matrix will be issued determining who is required to undertake medical examinations. The changes will also abolish streamlined health processing arrangements for 457 visa applicants which can affect the processing times.