Australia has announced major visa updates to attract more skilled migrants and international students to the country.
Last month, Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced extensions for Skilled Regional Provisional Visa (subclass 489, 491 and 494) holders who were impacted by travel restrictions.
He also announced that holders of the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) who have been stuck outside Australia due to the pandemic would be able to return from 18 February 2022 and apply for extensions to their visas.
Speaking on the visa updates, Mr Hawke said that the Australian federal government would extend the Skilled Regional Provisional Visas (subclasses 489, 491 and 494) by three years for skilled migrants who were impacted by border closures and travel restrictions.
He explained that the three-year extension would provide enough time for both current and former Skilled Regional Provisional visa holders to make travel arrangements to start or resume moving to and working in Australia.
Mr Hawke also revealed that international students with Temporary Graduate visas (subclass 485) who are stuck offshore would be able to re-enter Australia starting from 18 February 2022.
Subclass 485 visa holders who were stuck outside Australia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 would get extensions to their visas, which will come into effect from 18 February 2022, he said.
Mr Hawke also said that more than 43,000 international students have already returned to Australia after borders were reopened for fully vaccinated eligible visa holders.
He explained that the changes to the subclass 485 visa would hasten the return of temporary graduates to Australia.
Moreover, Mr Hawke hinted at further planned changes to the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485), saying that upcoming revisions on 1 July 2022 would allow former graduates to apply for additional extensions of their visas.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced a rebate in visa fees for international students and holidaymakers who arrive in Australia from 19 January 2022.
He explained that these changes could help Australia’s ongoing labour shortage across key industries caused by the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
After the outbreak of the coronavirus, Australia closed its borders in March 2020 to international travellers in an attempt to curb the widespread of Covid-19.
However, with more than 93 per cent of Australia’s population aged 16 and above being fully vaccinated, the Australian government is gradually reopening borders for international arrivals.