Australian Work Visa Requirement Update: Offshore Oil & Gas Industry
Written By Michael Walker
Tue, Dec 15, 2015
Following a Federal Court decision back in March of 2015; Australian Maritime Officers’ Union v Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  FCAFC 45 (26 March 2015), a great deal of confusion was caused for Australian resources companies. Chief among these confusions was the visa requirements for foreign nationals, engaged by these Australian companies, to work in the offshore oil and gas industry.
Subsequently, the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection at that time; The Hon. Senator Michaelia Cash, sought to provide greater certainty to the Industry. The Senator introduced the new Ministerial Determination 2015 - Immi 15/073 - F2015L00354.
Under the original legislation non citizens could not work on offshore oil and gas rigs and were not covered by Australia’s migration and workplace legislation. The Minister’s previous determination exempted all offshore resource activities from the provisions of the Act to ensure that non citizens could be granted visas to undertake offshore resource activities and be covered by Australia’s migration and workplace legislation. The Federal Court invalidated the Minister’s determination, finding that it effectively exempted foreign nationals, working in the offshore oil and gas industry, from Australia’s Migration Law.
Effective as of 14 December 2015, a new Regulation has been enacted, which now prescribes that foreign nationals, engaged in work in Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry, must hold either a subclass 400 or subclass 457 visa, unless they are holders of Australian permanent residency visas.
In summary, the new regulation will permit foreign nationals to work offshore, providing they hold subclass 400, permanent residency or subclass 457 visas.
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