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Migration Amendments – In effect from 19 November 2016

Written By Shannon Dutt
Fri, Nov 18, 2016
Shannon Dutt

Commencement of the Temporary Activity Visa Framework

BACKGROUND: In a recent article, we set out the changes starting on 19 November affecting a set of temporary visas. Please see our article here.

FORMS: The entire summary of changes to the forms for November 2016 can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website, here.

AUDIO: SBS Radio sought out TSS Immigration’s commentary for an interview on these changes.  The podcast can be found here.

457 visa changes
Separate from the changes noted above, an important amendment was announced for 457 visas.  Currently a condition of a 457 visa is that the visa holder cannot cease employment for more than 90 consecutive days. For visas granted on or after 19 November 2016, this is reduced to 60 days, meaning if a 457 visa holders ceases employment they have 60 days to find a new 457 employer sponsor, obtain some other sort of visa or depart Australia. Should they stay longer than 60 days without taking some form of remedial action, they will be in breach of their visa condition and their visa may be cancelled.

“Member of Family Unit” changes
For a visa applicant, the ability to include family members is an important, if not an integral factor in migrating to Australia.  Under new arrangements, in effect from 19 November 2016, the definition of Member of the Family Unit is being changed to only include partners and children, and not extended family members.

The definition of “member of the family unit” is being simplified to include:
• The spouse or de facto partner of the primary applicant;
• A child or step child of the primary applicant/primary applicant’s partner (under 18 years)
• A dependent child or step child of the primary applicant/ primary applicant’s partner (aged between 18 and 23 years); and
• A dependent child or step child of the primary applicant/ primary applicant’s partner (aged over 23 years who is incapacitated for work)

These changes do not affect applicants for protection, refugee and humanitarian visas. 

As noted above, the amendments allow a step-child to fall under the definition of ‘child’ and sets the age limit for dependent children to 23 years of age.

Further amendments allow a family member to be eligible for a further visa based on their current temporary visa (for example, where a child has turned 23 since being granted a subclass 457 visa as a dependent child and seeks to be included as a family member for the subsequent subclass 186 application). This would ensure that the family unit is kept together for subsequent visas.

These changes will apply to visas lodged on or after 19 November 2016.

Tourist Visa – Chinese nationals only – Frequent Traveller Stream (Subclass 600)
Starting 19 November, the Government is trialing the introduction of a 10-year validity Visitor visa for Chinese nationals. The frequent traveller visitor visa, if granted, will allow its holder to make multiple entries to Australia for a determined period; anywhere up to 10 years from the visa grant date, and allows its holder to remain in Australia for a period of 3 months on each entry.

General Criteria
The Applicant:
• is outside Australia
• holds a valid passport from the People’s Republic of China
• has genuine intent to visit Australia as tourist or to engage in business visitor activity
• will not engage in activities that will have adverse consequences for employment of training opportunities, or conditions of employment, for Australian citizens or permanent residents

The Applicant may be requested to undergo a medical assessment.

This is strictly for tourism or business visitor activities and this visa cannot be used to maintain a de facto relationship. The applicant cannot use this visa to take on work or supply good or services to any organisation or individual based in Australia.

As defined by regulations, tourism activities are recreational in nature, including but not limited to:
• Non-professional sporting activities
• Informal study courses
• Relaxation, sightseeing and travel

Business visitor activities include but are not limited to:
• General business or employment enquiry
• Investigating, negotiating, entering or reviewing business contracts
• Activities related to official government to government visits
• Participation in conferences, trade fairs or seminars (cannot be a paid activity)

The visa holder cannot stay for more than an accumulated 12 months in a 24 month period. The visa application charge is $1,000.

Contact TSS Immigration for further information or assistance.

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