The 2020-21 Federal Budget contains the following announcements and information related to the Department of Home Affairs and the migration program.

The Budget papers predict net overseas migration will be -71,200 less than the 154,000 persons in 2019-20, but is expected to gradually increase to around 201,000 in 2023-24.

Migration Program levels
The current Migration Program Planning level will remain at 160,000 for the 2020-21 program year, however, the distribution of places will change with an increase from 47,732 to 77,300 for Family stream places for this program year only.

Employer Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be prioritised within the Skilled Stream.

Onshore visa applicants and Partner visa applicants where the relevant sponsor resides in a designated regional area, will be prioritised for the 2020-21 Migration Program.

Visa refunds and waivers
Prospective marriage visa (PMV) holders will be able to access a VAC refund (this is in line with information that the Department is not extending the entry date for PMV holders and moving to cancel the visas of those offshore)

Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund.

Temporary skilled workers and visitor visa holders will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted.

Working holiday makers will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted or otherwise be able to access a VAC refund.

VAC refunds and waivers will be available to current visa holders who are unable to travel until the border reopens.

Permanent migration
New Zealand Pathway to permanent residency – the income eligibility requirement for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa. Eligibility for the Pathway will be extended to Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders who have a taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold for at least three of the last five income years, including the most recent year.

Business, Investment and Innovation Program
The Government will introduce changes to improve the quality of investments and applicants.

The program will focus on higher value investors, business owners and entrepreneurs and improve the economic outcomes of the BIIP.

Visa application charges for BIIP visas will also be increased by an additional 11.3% (above regular CPI indexation) on 1 July 2021.

Places in this program will be increased to 13,500.

Global Talent Independent program
Places in the GTI program will be tripled to 15,000.

Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce
A new whole-of-government Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce will be established to attract international businesses and exceptional talent to Australia, to support the post- COVID recovery and boost local jobs.

This initiative builds on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program and the new initiative announced by the Prime Minister on 9 July 2020 to attract export-orientated Hong Kong-based businesses to Australia.

Family stream program and visas
Partner visas – the mandatory family sponsorship provisions for Partner visas will be implemented, requiring character checks and sharing of personal information with the applicant, and enforceable sponsorship obligations. 72,300 of the 77,300 places in the family stream will be allocated to partner applicants.

English language requirements will be introduced for Partner visa applicants AND the sponsor, to enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.

Adult Migrant English Program

Further reforms as per the Acting Minister’s announcement of 28 August that the 510 hour cap on class hours and time limits on the free English language tuition available under the Adult Migration English Program has been removed.

Humanitarian stream
Humanitarian Program ceiling will be set at 13,750 places, with a flexible mix of places between offshore and onshore categories in response to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Immigration Assessment Authority will receive funding of $7.6 million to enable continued review fast track reviewable decisions for those who entered Australia as an unauthorised maritime arrival on or after 13 August 2012 but before 1 January 2014.

Christmas Island reactivation – the government will provide $55.6 million dollars at North West Point on Christmas Island to accommodate unlawful non-citizens including those released from prisons, but unable to be deported due to COVID-19 international border restrictions.
Community Sponsorship Program – this program will be reformed, but no further details provided.

Youth Transition Support and Youth Hub Programs – funding will be continued for these programs.

Social Cohesion
Social cohesion funding of $62.8 million over five years from 2019-20 will be provided for initiatives including the promotion Australian values, identity and social cohesion, and counter malign information online; enhance engagement with multicultural communities; and to establish a research program to inform initiatives to strengthen social cohesion.

Federal Law Circuit Court
Funding of $35.7 million over four years from 2020-21 will be provided to the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) for additional resources and judges will be provided to expedite the resolution of migration matters.

An increase in filing fees for migration litigants will be used to partially offset the cost of this measure.

Machinery of Government
Responsibility for the migrant adult education and also settlement services will be transferred to the Home Affairs portfolio.

National Action Plan to Combat Modern Slavery 2020-25
$10.6 million will be provided over five years from 2020-21 for the provision of grants to deliver community-based projects to prevent modern slavery.

 

The full Federal Budget papers can be accessed on the Budget.gov.au site.

The joint media release by Minister Dutton and Acting Minister Tudge is available here

Today, the Parliament has passed tax relief for more than 11 million Australians.
Our changes, backdated to 1 July, will see more than 7 million Australians receive tax relief of $2,000 or more this year.
This will reward hard work and strengthen our economy. It will generate billions of dollars of economic activity and tens of thousands of new jobs.
Another tax measure passed by the Parliament today will unlock investment and create jobs by building on the successful Instant Asset Write Off. 
Over 99% of businesses will be able to immediately write off the full value of eligible assets they purchase for their business.
This will mean a trucking company can upgrade their fleet, a farmer can buy a new harvester and a manufacturer can expand their production line.
Small businesses will buy, sell, deliver and install these assets.
Every sector of our economy will benefit, creating jobs around the country.
These measures were announced in the Budget on Tuesday and they are law on Friday. 

Our Government will continue to get on with the job of rebuilding our economy and creating jobs. 
Read more about the Budget measures here.

Supporting tourism and agriculture through Visa Application Charge changes 

The Morrison Government is ensuring Australia remains an attractive destination for tourists, and temporary visa holders who often fill critical skills shortages, by offering refunds or waivers of Visa Application Charges (VAC).Tourists, working holiday makers, seasonal and pacific workers, prospective partners and temporary skilled workers whose travel has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible. 

Visitors

Visitor visa holders who are overseas and whose visas expired or will expire between March 2020 and December 2021 will be eligible for a waiver when they apply for a new visa. 

This will help support the rebound of Australia’s $45 billion international tourism sector when international travel restrictions ease

We know many of our tourism destinations and operators are doing it tough right now and these arrangements will help encourage people to travel to Australia when our international borders re-open and once again inject vital tourism dollars into our economy.  

Working holiday maker

Backpackers on Working Holiday Maker visas who have been unable to come to Australia or who had to leave Australia early due to COVID-19 will also be eligible for a waiver, when they decide to return to Australia. 

Those who are unable to return because they have passed the age limit for a Working Holiday Maker visa will be able to claim a refund. 

Working Holiday Makers are a major contributor to Australia’s tourism industry and also fill critical workforce shortages, particularly in regional and rural Australia. On average, they spend all their money in Australia, contributing more than $3 billion a year to the economy and supporting local jobs. 

These changes build on a number of measures announced by the Morrison Government to allow Working Holiday Makers to remain in Australia longer and support the critical sectors of health, aged care, disability care, childcare, agriculture and food processing. 

Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme workers 

Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme visa holders will also be eligible for a refund of the VAC if they were granted a visa before 20 March 2020 and have been unable to travel to Australia due to COVID-19 

These programs restarted in August to help fill labor shortages in key industries, particularly the farming sector.

Visa conditions for these workers have also been temporarily relaxed and options are available for them to extend their stay in Australia for up to 12 months to support the agriculture sector.

Temporary skilled workers 

Due to travel restrictions there are many Temporary Skill Shortage and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders who have not made their initial entry to Australia, or have returned home due to COVID-19 and may wish to apply again. 

To support local businesses that seek to access critical skills not available in the local labour workforce, the Government will offer a waiver of the VAC for subsequent applications by affected temporary employer sponsored skilled migrants. 

Subsequent skilled visa applications will still be subject to the strict labour market testing requirements to ensure Australians have first priority for jobs.

Prospective Marriage visa holders

The Prospective Marriage visa provides holders with nine months to travel to Australia to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident. 

VAC refunds will be available for prospective Marriage visa holders who have been unable to enter Australia before their visa expired, due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions. 

Refunds will ensure these visa holders are able to apply for another visa to travel to Australia and hold their wedding once travel restrictions are lifted. For those visas that have already expired, any new application will be prioritised. 

Visa extensions will be available for Prospective Marriage visa holders whose visas are still valid. 

Australia’s success in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and our economy, will continue to make Australia an attractive destination for tourists and temporary workers. These measures will reinforce that when our borders open up, Australia will remain a nation that welcomes and values our international visitors. 

Further details will soon be available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

 

Media contact: Whitney Harris 0466 462 511

Decision making about individual exemptions from Australia’s inwards travel restriction policy

Purpose of these guidelines The purpose of these guidelines is to:
  • Provide the Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner’s guidance to decision makers considering requests for exemption from Australia’s inwards travel restrictions
  1. Commissioner’s principles

The following principles apply to the decision making covered by these guidelines:
  • It is the Commissioner’s general expectation that a person has been granted a visa prior to applying for inwards travel.
Consideration of a case for exemption from the inwards travel restriction policy is to be guided by the Commissioner’s Guidelines. If there is a threat to the health of the public in Australia, it is generally not appropriate to exercise discretion for a person to receive exemption from inwards travel restrictions It is a relevant consideration in assessing the veracity of a person’s claims, if a person has previously provided false or misleading information to the ABF or the Department of Home Affairs (the Department)  The Commissioner expects a person requesting an exemption to provide relevant supporting information, as far as can be reasonably expected, in the circumstances of the proposed travel.
  • The Commissioner agrees that there may be some circumstances where documentation may not be provided due to the urgent nature of the grounds for requesting a discretionary exemption – such as where a close relative is critically ill and likely to die.
A lack of documents in these circumstances, in and of itself, is not a sufficient reason to refuse a person’s request for discretionary exemption.
  1. Individual requests for exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions

The ABF Commissioner and decision makers may grant individual exemptions from Australia’s travel restrictions. Cases that demonstrate circumstances such as those described below, may generally be considered to satisfy the requirements for exemption to inwards travel restrictions. Supporting evidence, sufficient to satisfy the decision maker, should be provided.
  • Where an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident minor whose parent or parents are in Australia is travelling with a non-exempt traveler (such as a non-citizen parent, aunt, grandparent etc.), that non-exempt traveler who is accompanying the child can be considered as meeting compelling and compassionate guidelines. This consideration applies for the sole purpose of ensuring appropriate guardianship and welfare arrangements during the Australian citizen and Australian permanent resident minor’s return to Australia.
  • Where an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident minor seeks to travel with a non-exempt travelerler, the following is required: a copy of the minor’s birth certificate; written consent from the minor’s parent/s, including details of who will travel with the child; a copy of the parent/s’ identification; and evidence of the non-exempt traveler’s relationship with the minor.
  • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest.
  • People with critical skills, including nurses, doctors, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews. Skills must be critical to Australia’s COVID-19 response or economic recovery. Any support from a State, Territory or Commonwealth government authority will be considered favourably. Consideration should include any beneficial economic, health, social or employment outcomes for Australian citizens. Consideration should be given to people:
    • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
    • with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture – including shearers, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
    •  delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
    • whose entry would otherwise be in Australia’s national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • Changes announced by the Government on 01 September 2020 introduced a Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) based on advice from the National Skills Commission and other Commonwealth departments. The PMSOL prioritises migration for people with critical skills through employer sponsored visa programs to fill skills needs, help create jobs and rebuild Australia’s economy and recovery from COVID-19. The PMSOL identifies 17 occupations that are considered to be critical for the recovery of the Australian economy. The 17 occupations are:
      • Chief Executive or Managing Director (111111)
      • Construction Project Manager (133111)
      • Mechanical Engineer (233512)
      • General Practitioner (253111)
      • Midwife (254111)
      • Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (254412)
      • Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency) (254415)
      • Registered Nurse (Medical) (254418)
      • Registered Nurse (Perioperative) (254423)
      • Registered Nurses nec (254499)
      • Developer Programmer (261312)
      • Software Engineer (261313)
      • Maintenance Planner (312911)
      • Resident Medical Officer (253112)
      • Psychiatrist (253411)
      • Medical Practitioner nec (253999)
      • Registered Nurse (Mental Health) (254422)
  • This will support ongoing work to ensure our migration program and the processing of exemptions to travel restrictions supports critical sectors, essential to Australia’s response to and recovery from COVID-19.
  • People working in the media or entertainment industry where there is evidence of significant economic benefit to Australia, and where there is evidence of support from the relevant state or territory government where the event or production is taking place.
  • Cases demonstrating strong compassionate circumstances that, if not taken into account, would result in serious, ongoing and irreversible harm and continuing hardship to an Australian citizen or an Australian family unit, where at least one member of the family is an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident.
  • Compassionate circumstances regarding the age and/or health and/or psychological state of the person that, if not taken into account, would result in serious, ongoing and irreversible harm and continuing hardship to the person.
  • Strong economic, scientific, cultural or other benefit to Australia would result from the person being permitted to enter Australia. Support from a state, territory or Commonwealth government authority should be given considerable weight.
  • The parent or legal guardian of a minor who is lawfully present in Australia, including when holding a temporary visa, and can establish that the minor was usually resident in Australia before the introduction of Australia’s travel restrictions.
More specifically, following circumstances would generally meet inward exemption requirements:
  • Non-citizens requiring urgent or critical medical treatment in Australia, including medical evacuations. Circumstances will include consideration by State and Territory governments on a case-by-case basis, and are subject to the capacity of receiving medical facilities. An accompanying family member may also be considered where a minor requires treatment; where a medical condition is life threatening; or where medical advice supports the requirement for the family member to travel
  • Those seeking to attend a funeral of a close family member. A close family member is defined as a parent, sibling, partner, child and grandparents
  • Those seeking to visit a close family member who is seriously ill where there is little support in Australia.
  • The partner of a person who is in Australia and in the final trimester of their pregnancy or otherwise due to give birth. This instruction also applies to temporary visa holders in Australia and their partners.
  • Military personnel, including those who form part of a Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, and Asia Pacific Forces.
  • The immediate family member of a non-citizen with critical skills in Australia, where the person in Australia holds a temporary or provisional visa. The impact to Australia should be considered – including if there is a high risk that the person with critical skills will depart Australia if they are unable to reunite with their immediate family member. Objective evidence of the ongoing criticality of the relevant skill from a state or territory government should be given considerable weight.
  • Elite sporting teams who are able to demonstrate how their entry and stay is critical to Australia, including support from the relevant Commonwealth, state or territory government agency.
  • Where a non-crew member is considered critical to the operation of a vessel and/or where a State or Territory authority or tourism body provides support.
  1. Other relevant information

For all cases considered under these guidelines, the decision maker will consider information on any other relevant issues, including the following:
  • Whether the presence of the person in Australia would pose a threat to the health of the public in Australia.
  • Whether there are character concerns in relation to the person, particularly concerns related to criminal conduct – and whether this would give rise to related cancellation consideration.
  • Information about a person’s history of compliance with Australian laws, including migration laws, and whether this would give rise to related cancellation consideration, such as:
    • any offence or fraud against the migration or citizenship legislation
    • any failure to comply with their visa conditions
    • any periods as an unlawful non-citizen in the community
    • their history of cooperation and engagement with the department to resolve their immigration status, particularly in relation to identity and travel documents
  • Details of any ongoing court proceedings.
  • The level and nature of the person’s integration into the Australian community and the length of time they have been in Australia, both as a lawful and unlawful non-citizen.
  • Where a decision maker identifies that an exemption request has raised circumstances within any of the considerations outlined above, further advice must be sought from this instruction’s owner (Border Measures Program Management Branch) to determine appropriate handling.
  1. The Commissioner is not limited by these guidelines

he Commissioner may consider approving an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions in cases where the circumstances do not fall within those described in these guidelines, if the Commissioner considers it to be in the public interest to do so. Where the Commissioner believes it is appropriate, the Commissioner will seek further information to determine whether to consider a case. The Commissioner will personally consider a range of matters, including all matters involving consideration of Australia’s non-refoulement obligations, as set out in his decision making summary. Further, the Commissioner will personally consider all requests for:
  • Members of elite sporting teams
  • People who are undertaking research (especially on a Student visa). Any request from a PhD research student should include evidence of support from a relevant Government agency outlining why the research is considered essential and/or in Australia’s national interest and how their role is critical to the research
  • Year 11/12 students (only where a letter of support from their Australian school and the relevant state or territory health authority is provided).
  • Students who are in their final years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or Allied Health Profession university degree, where they have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. Allied Health Professions include: Arts therapy, audiology, chiropractic, diagnostic radiographer/ medical imaging technologist, dietetics, exercise physiology, genetic counselling, music therapy, occupational therapy, optometry, orthoptics, orthotics/prosthetics, osteopathy, perfusion, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology, rehabilitation counselling, social work, sonography and speech pathology
  • Anyone considered to be of ‘social or cultural benefit
  • Visa holders who fall within the at risk/refugee/humanitarian cohort, e.g. Class XB visa holders
  • People who are considered to be ‘grant ready’ for permanent residence, and who are proposing to travel to Australia for visa grant
  • People providing critical skills in religious or theology fields, including specialist skills within a school context, people holding a senior religious position such as a senior cleric or bishop within a diocese, where no Australian worker is available
  • Other novel, unusual or high risk requests
These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the following document:
Inward Travel Restrictions Operation Directive

Situation

  1. From 20 March 2020, travel restrictions have been in place prohibiting travel into Australia of all foreign nationals, unless exempt. The travel restrictions have been successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Australia and were implemented on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)
  2. The ABF Commissioner has been authorised by the Prime Minister through the National Security Committee to consider on a case by case basis a request for inwards travel where there are compassionate or compelling circumstances.
  3. The ABF Commissioner or authorized senior APS decision makers (APS 6 to SES Band 1) will consider inwards requests.
  4. The following categories of people are automatically exempt from travel restrictions and are not required to request an individual exemption. Evidence must be provided:
      • An Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia
      • An immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
      • A New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members
      • Airline crew, maritime crew, and associated safety workers
      • A diplomat accredited to Australia, including their immediate family members (each member of the family unit must hold a valid subclass 995 visa)
      • A person transiting Australia for 72 hours or less.
      • A person recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labor Scheme
      • A person who holds a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (subclass 188) visa
  5. Non-citizens apply in advance of planned travel via the Travel Exemption Portal: https://travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au/tep
  6. All people arriving in Australia are required to undertake a mandatory government controlled 14 day quarantine period at designated facilities (for example, a hotel) in their port of arrival, unless theyhave received an exemption from the relevant state or territory government health authority.

Explanation

  1. The inwards travel restrictions for people coming to Australia do not apply to the following categories of people:
Category Details
Australian citizens and permanent residents Airline assesses identity documentation at time of boarding. Where evidence is not clear, airlines will contact the Border Operations Centre for advice.
Immediate family of Australian citizens and permanent residents The travel restrictions do not apply to immediate family of Australian citizens and permanent residents. Holders of a Partner visa (subclasses 100, 309, 801 and 820) or a Child visa (subclasses 101, 102, 445) are permitted to board and do not need to submit an exemption request. Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visas are not covered by these arrangements.Temporary visa holders or people who do not hold a substantive visaNon-citizens claiming to be immediate family members who hold temporary visas or have applied for a visa need to provide documentary evidence that they are an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident through the Travel Exemption Portal for assessment.Examples of documentary evidence may include: a marriage certificate, de-facto or civil partnership registration, shared financial commitments, joint residence arrangements or birth certificates.If a person is holding a Bridging Visa B (BVB), assessing officers should check to determine which subclass of visa application is in progress. If the visa application in progress relates to one of the Child or Partner visas referred to above (excepting Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visas), officers should take that into account in line with the intent and purpose of this exemption category. Officers should still take all available evidence and circumstances into consideration.
New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia need to provide evidence of residency in Australia, New Zealand citizens can provide this at check-in at time of boarding. If New Zealand citizens would like their evidence of residency assessed by the Department prior to travel to Australia, they can submit a request via the Travel Exemption Portal. Acceptable evidence may include, but is not limited to:
  • Government issued documentation (for example Australian issued driver’s licence, Medicare card, registration as an Australian resident with the Australian Tax Office)
  • Evidence of current employment or approved study in Australia (or financial support evidenced through a local bank statement) or
  • Ownership or rental of a property in Australia (e.g. utility bills, rates notices, lease agreement)
  • The location of immediate family members
Note:Length of time spent onshore in Australia prior to last departure (movement record history) and significant ties onshore should all be taken into consideration when determining residency status.
Aviation, maritime crew and associated safety workers and essential workers Australia’s travel restrictions do not apply to aviation and maritime commercial crew.     Maritime Crew Maritime crew includes any person required to be part of a crew supporting the operation of a commercial vessel or physically working on an offshore installation (i.e. oil and gas) in Australian waters. A commercial vessel is any vessel that is in Australia for commercial trading purposes that is not a Superyacht or Cruise Ship. Commercial activity includes: support in the movement of freight and important industries (such as the resources industry) or provision of port services, maintenance services, marine pilots and marine surveyors. Marine pilots are included under the definition of maritime crew for purposes of travel to and from Australia by air. Arriving military crew are exempt in line with commercial crew. This provision does not apply to maritime crew on cruise ships, small craft, or superyachts. Aviation Crew Aviation crew includes airline, medevac and air ambulance crew, including off-shift crew who are travelling as passengers on an aircraft to reposition at another location. Aviation crew also includes US Air Marshalls travelling in the course of their duties. ABF considers the presence of professional animal attendants to be essential for the safe operation of an aircraft carrying live cargo. Therefore, for the sole purpose of Australia’s travel restrictions, aviation crew includes professional animal attendants, where the cargo includes live animals. Please note that the status of professional animal attendants as crew does not apply in any other context, and that an attendant must hold a valid visa. Associated safety workers A safety worker is someone who is involved or responsible for the development, management or monitoring of safety of the aviation, maritime and transport sectors (i.e. engineer, technicians, safety coordinators). Travellers should provide evidence of their employment and reason for travel. All other safety workers should apply for an exemption.
Diplomats accredited to Australia and their immediate family members Travel restrictions do not apply to Diplomatic (subclass 995) visa holders. This includes both diplomats accredited to Australia and their immediate family members.
People can transit through Australia if their transit time in Australia is 72 hours or less. People transiting All transit passengers must hold a valid visa or be eligible for Transit Without a Visa through Australia (TWOV) arrangements. For 72 hours or less People transiting through Australia for more than 72 hours will need to request an exemption.
People recruited under the Government approved seasonal worker Program or Pacific Labor Scheme Travel restrictions do not apply to Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass Seasonal Worker 403) visa holders under the Seasonal Worker Program stream and Pacific Labor scheme stream.
  1. The ABF Commissioner has been authorized by the Prime Minister (through the National Security Committee) to consider on a case by case basis requests for exemption to travel restrictions. Refer to the Commissioner’s Guidelines for information relating to individual exemption requests.

From 25 March 2020, all Australian citizens and permanent residents must not travel outside Australia unless exempt, either through being in an already exempt category or through obtaining an individual exemption by providing the Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner with a compelling reason to depart.

  1. The authority for these restrictions is a determination signed by the Health Minister under s477(1) of  the Biosecurity Act 2015.
  2. The following categories of traveler are exempt from travel restrictions and are not required to apply for an individual exemption:
    • Usually resident in a country other than Australia
    • Members of the crew of an aircraft or vessel, or a worker associated with the safety or maintenance of an aircraft or vessel
    • New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, even if they are usually resident in Australia
    • Engaged in the day-to-day conduct of inbound and outbound freight
    • Travelling in association with essential work at an offshore facility in Australian waters
    • Travelling on official Government business (including members of the Australian Defense Force and any Australian government official travelling on a diplomatic or official passport)

Explanation

  1. An authorized Officer of the Australian Border Force can determine whether people are in an exempt category or can grant an individual exemption in order for the person to depart Australia. Determinations should be made with reference to a reasonable standard of evidence in the circumstances.
  2. Individual exemption requests should normally be submitted via the Travel Exemption Portal and assessed by a trained decision maker prior to the departure date.
  3. Where a prospective traveler presents at the border and they are found to not be in an already exempt category and they do not hold an individual exemption, a Border Force Supervisor (APS6) or Inspector (EL1) who has received exemption decision training may decide a request for exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions. The decision must be made in writing and recorded on departmental systems.
  4. The following situations would generally be approved and can be assessed and decided by Border Force Supervisors APS6):

    1. is attending the funeral of an immediate family member (parent, child, sibling, spouse)
    2. is travelling due to critical or serious illness of an immediate family member (parent, child, sibling, spouse)
    3. is travelling for necessary medical treatment not available in Australia
    4. needs to pick up a minor child (adoption, surrogacy, court order etc) and return to Australia
      with that child
    5. intends to commence or continue education overseas, where the education period is at least
      three months
    6. intends to complete an existing work contract – for example fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers and
      individuals with a work contract
    7. is travelling to an Australian territory which is outside the migration zone
    8. has a compelling reason and will remain overseas for at least three months
    9. has had a previous request approved and the reasons for travel have not changed
  5. The following situations would generally be approved and can be assessed and decided by Border Force Inspector (EL1) or above

    1. travel is in the national interest
    2. travel is in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
    3. travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including import and export industries)
  6. It is up to the decision maker to determine the appropriate level of evidence required. The examples below are intended as a guide only.
CategoryDetails
Usually resident in a country other than Australia

There is no numerical calculation as to whether someone is ‘usually resident’ in a country other than Australia – it is a matter of judgement.

Acceptable evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • government issued documentation (for example foreign driver‘s licence) which is supported by one other type of documentation confirming:
  • owning or renting property in a foreign country (e.g. utility bills, rates notices, lease agreement)
  • location of
    immediate family members
  • employment contract

Note: Length of time spent onshore in Australia prior to last departure (movement record history) and significant ties offshore should all be taken into consideration when determining residency status.

Death/serious illness of an immediate family member

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • Proof of relationship such as birth and/or marriage certificates, or any other evidence of relationship
  • Death certificate, (or letter from a medical professional)
  • Letter from a medical professional, hospital records
  • Statement on when the individual intends to return to Australia
Medical treatment not
available in Australia

Examples may include specific treatments or medical trials that people are participating in that are not available in Australia.

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • A letter from the treating Doctor outlining treatment and clearly stating whether it is or isn’t available in Australia
Surrogacy / Adoption / pick up a minor child overseas

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • Medical certificates and adoption papers from the State (if available)
  • Evidence in the form of a letter from the hospital or from that country’s
    government
  • Proof of relationship such as birth and/or marriage certificates, or any other evidence of relationship
Commence or continue education overseas for at least three months

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • Letter from an educational institution confirming current enrolment in a
    course of study, or confirming commencement of study within three months of planned departure date
Existing work contract

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • Evidence of an existing work contract for employment outside of Australia
Travelling to an Australian territory outside the migration zone

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • Itinerary showing confirmed travel to an Australian territory outside the
    migration zone (e.g. Christmas Island)
Compelling reason to remain overseas for at least three months‘Compelling’ takes its ordinary dictionary meaning. Compelling reasons may stem from compassionate factors or may arise, for example, from a person’s circumstances or the circumstances of another person. Travelers should provide relevant documentary evidence that supports their compelling reason to remain overseas for at least three months
Previous exemption approved and reason for travel has not changed

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • Letter from a medical professional
  • Employment contract, for example for fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) workers
Travel is in the national interest

The scope of requests under this category may be large. Consideration should include assessment of supporting documentation from employers, government authorities or private entities

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • specialized projects such as the Antarctic Repair Mission
  • participation in elite sporting teams
  • relief support for disasters, and emergency service support such as fire or
    police work
Travel in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid

An example may include medical or research personnel travelling overseas as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • a letter from a government or private entity outlining the requirement for the individual to travel outside of Australia in response to COVID-19
Travel in relation to critical industries and business

A person seeking an exemption on this ground may provide supporting evidence such as a letter from a government or private entity outlining the . requirement for them to travel outside of Australia. Travelers should also provide details of their travel plans and anticipated return to Australia.

Travelers may provide evidence such as:

  • workers who are required to travel to factories to ensure continuity of the
    supply of products;
  • airline employees conducting critical ‘crew type’ activities;
  • business leaders who can’t be replaced by another person;
  • other business that supports continuing legitimate trade and economic prosperity
  1. The ABF Commissioner has been authorised by the Prime Minister (through the National Security Committee) to consider on a case by case basis requests for exemption to travel restrictions. Refer to the Commissioner’s Guidelines for information relating to individual exemption requests
  2. Where a traveler presents at the border and has not submitted an application and the reason meets one of the above scenarios please refer to the section titled ‘Decision Maker record for decisions made at the border of the Outward Travel Exemption – ABF Decision Maker Process Guide
  3. Where a traveler presents at the border and has not submitted an application and the reason does not meet one of the above scenarios please escalate to the Inspector (EL1) or contact the Duty Superintendent Border Measures on
  4. For urgent assistance or advice please call the Duty Superintendent Border Measures on
  5. For questions relation to this Operation Directive, refer to the Outward Travel Exemptions – ABF Decision Maker Process Guide attached for ABF decision makers in the first instance.
  6. This Operation Directive supersedes any previous directions provided, to the extent that those guidelines dealt with this particular subject matter

As at 15 September 2020

For your information, outlined below are scenarios where the Commissioner has generally approved inwards travel exemptions. This interim information is provided pending finalization of endorsed Commissioner’s guidelines to decision makers:

  • Delivery of critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports.
  • Non-citizens travelling at the invitation of the Commonwealth or State governments for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest.
  • People with critical skills, including nurses, doctors, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews. Skills must be critical to Australia’s COVID-19 response or economic recovery. Support from a State, Territory or Commonwealth government authority has been given considerable weight.
  • Strong economic or scientific benefit to Australia would result from the person being entering Australia (not including students). Support from a State, Territory or Commonwealth government authority has been given considerable weight.
  • Non-citizens requiring urgent or critical medical treatment in Australia, including medical evacuations – subject to the capacity of receiving medical facilities and ensuring that there is no impact on Australian citizens and residents. An accompanying family member or other support person has also been approved where: a minor requires treatment; where a medical condition is life threatening; or where medical advice supports the requirement for the family member or support person to travel.
  • Military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement.
  • The immediate family member of a non-citizen with critical skills in Australia, where the person in Australia holds a temporary or provisional visa. The impact to Australia has been considered – particularly where there is a high risk that the person with critical skills will depart Australia.
  • Individuals who are part of elite sporting teams who are able to demonstrate there is a viable competition, the sporting code confirms how their entry and stay is critical to Australia, there is community interest and economic activity related to that sport.
  • Non-crew members who are critical to the operation of a vessel and/or where the vessel operator can demonstrate the criticality of the person, or where a State or Territory authority or has provided support.
  • Cases involving separation of minors from their family unit, including:
      • Minors needing to travel to Australia to reunite with their parent/s or guardian. One
        accompanying close family member (aunt, uncle, grandparent) has been approved, where parents cannot accompany the child.
  • Cases demonstrating strong compassionate circumstances that, if not recognised, would result in serious, ongoing and irreversible harm and continuing hardship to a person lawfully in Australia, including:
      • Those seeking to attend a funeral of a close family member or visit a close family member in critical care at end of life. Up to four persons permitted to travel.
      • Those seeking to visit a close family member who is seriously or critically ill, particularly where there is little support in Australia.
      • he partner of a person who is in Australia (including Temporary visa holders) in the final trimester of their pregnancy or otherwise due to give birth.

Cases where the Commissioner has generally not approved exemption to inwards travel restrictions, include the following:

  • If there is a threat to the health of the Australian community
  • Non-critical illness of family members, where immediate family support is already available in Australia.
  • Requests for Temporary visa holders’ family members to join them in Australia Students who do not meet one of the above scenarios Requests for multiple travelers seeking to travel on compassionate grounds outside those articulated above
  • Attending significant family events, such as weddings or major birthdays
  • Any request that includes demonstrably false or misleading documentation or other demonstrably false or misleading evidence or statements of claim or history with the ABF or the Department
  • Adverse alerts including PACE alerts

 

The Commissioner will personally consider requests for:

  • Members of elite sporting teams
  • People who are undertaking research (especially on a Student visa). Any request from a PhD research student should include evidence of support from a relevant Government agency outlining why the research is considered essential and/or in Australia’s national interest and how their role is critical to the research
  • Year 11/12 students (only where a letter of support from their Australian school and the relevant state or territory health authority is provided).
  • Students who are in their final year of study of a medical, dental, nursing or Allied Health Profession university degree, where they have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice. Allied Health Professions include: Arts therapy, audiology, chiropractic, diagnostic radiographer/medical imaging technologist, dietetics, exercise physiology, genetic counselling, music therapy, occupational therapy, optometry, orthoptics, orthotics/prosthetics, osteopathy, perfusion, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology, rehabilitation counselling, social work, sonography and speech pathology
  • Anyone considered to be of social or cultural benefit
  • Visa holders who fall within the at risk/refugee/humanitarian cohort, e.g. Class XB visa holders
  • People who are considered to be ‘grant ready’ for permanent residence, and who are proposing to travel to Australia for visa grant
  • People providing critical skills in religious or theology fields, including specials skills within a school context, people holding a senior religious position such as a senior cleric or bishop within a diocese, where no Australian worker is available
  • Other novel, unusual or high risk requests

Move to South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration

 

Move to South Australia – Skilled and Business Migration is currently awaiting confirmation of the final allocation for the 2020-2021 program year for both the skilled and business nomination allocations. While an exact date is not known, it is expected to be finalized by late November. Further information will be provided on the Skilled and Business Migration programs once the allocations have been finalized.

 

The Skilled Migration Program
The current Skilled Migration program will remain in effect with invitations continuing to be issued to Expressions of Interest identified with the skills to support South Australia’s economic recovery and public health response.  
 
https://www.migration.sa.gov.au/skilled-migrants/supporting-information 
 
Business Innovation & Investment Program (BIIP) 
Intention to Apply applications are welcomed and can continue to be submitted. If you have not been invited to submit a state nomination application in Round 1, your Intention to Apply remains eligible for any subsequent rounds. 
 
https://www.migration.sa.gov.au/business-migrants/supporting-information 

SIV and IV Update –  October 2020

The major positive news for the Business Innovation and Investment Program out of the federal budget was the increase in places from 6,862 in 2019/2020 to 13,500 for 2020/2021.

It was also announced that from 1 July 2021, the Government will streamline and improve the operation of the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP).  The Government will introduce changes to improve the quality of investment and applicants.

While the changes have not yet been announced, we believe there would have to be some changes made to the 188B Investment Visa.  This may include an increase to the investment amount and a wider range of investments than State Government Bonds.  Something that would resemble a mini-SIV which would make sense.

At time of writing, Treasury Corporation of Victoria 4 year fixed rate bonds for immigration purposes have a negative interest rate of -0.06%.  This would not have the desired effect of providing migrants a positive Australia investment experience in order for them to bring more capital to Australia.

State Government Bonds were already withdrawn from the SIV program as a complying investment in July 2015 due to having limited economic benefit.  Out of the entire issuance of state bonds, investment immigration represents only a tiny portion.

Hive of activity on SIV processing

We are seeing an increase in activity on SIV cases which have been stuck in process for many months.

Many applicants are now receiving their invitations to invest after lengthy waits of 12 to 18 months.  It is now important that applicants review their SIV investment intentions with the assistance of a  SIV specialist financial adviser.  The economic landscape in Australia has changed a lot since they had lodged their application, interest rates have been cut to 0.25% and a shift in investor sentiment in certain asset classes. It is vitally important that SIV investors ensure that their SIV portfolios have adequate diversification, risks are mitigated and that asset quality, liquidity and SIV compliance issues are all satisfactorily addressed.

Since the well-publicised news of the collapse of a fund manager who built SIV funds, many SIV investors now have preference to diversify their SIV investment portfolio so they don’t have a concentration risk to one fund manager.

A typical SIV portfolio at Ord Minnett is well diversified.

For any clients you have in process or have just received their invitation to invest, we are happy to provide them with a comprehensive review of their investment intentions.

Given the COVID-19 induced market volatility and the recent spate of disreputable SIV news headlines, the value of good advice, has never been more important.

188B Investor Visa Bonds Maturing

As more 188B visa holders are applying for their 888 PR, they will need to consider the options for their money once their bonds mature.  The current interest rate environment for fixed interest is very different from when they had invested four years ago.

We encourage you to introduce us to your 188B clients to provide them with some ideas and options for this money.  It is ideal that there is future investment plans for this money for 888 state nominations and to assist with satisfying Common criteria 888.213 The applicant genuinely has a realistic commitment to maintain business or investment activities in Australia.

Victoria – Change to nomination criteria

Victoria has announced for the interim period, “all business and investment activity must contribute to Victoria’s economic recovery or health response to be approved for visa nomination”.

“Places are limited and applications are expected to be highly competitive”

An emphasis is placed on how the investment “will assist Victoria’s economic recovery or health response to the pandemic”.

We are happy to assist you and your clients complete the Economic Recovery – Business and Investment Support Form.

Many of our 188C and 188B clients make additional investments into direct shares, property trusts, listed fixed interest and ETFs.  This can only improve the attractiveness of their nomination by providing a clear demonstration of their ongoing commitment to Australia.

U N IT EDSRI LANKAN MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA HOSTS AN OPEN Q & A SESSION
 
LET’S ASK JASON WOOD –
The Honorable MP, Federal Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs
 
SATUR DAY , 7 TH NOVEMB E R 2020
6 PM ONWARDS
VIA ZOOM VIDEO CONFERENCE
Note: USMAA is an apolitical organization and its members follow various political parties. Therefore we implore you to respect all parties and not offend anyone.
 
Get your:
  1. MEETING ID: 922 9105 6388
  2. PASSCODE: usmaa2020

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