As a reprieve to thousands of visa applicants affected by section 48 (p48) bar, the federal government has amended its migration regulations to allow them on land to submit applications for selected skilled visa subclasses, which include:
- Subclass 491 – Regional (provisional) visa for skilled work
- Subclass 494 – skilled employer-sponsored regional (provisional) visa
- Subclass 190 – Skilled Nominated Visa
- Australia lifts section 48 bar for onshore visa applicants affected by COVID travel restrictions
- Visa applicants on land that are subject to the s48 bar can now apply for three skilled visas
- Onshore applicants can now submit applications to subclass 491, 494 or 190
In its explanatory memorandum, the Department of Home Affairs states that “this amendment facilitates applications in Australia for applicants who are prevented from traveling due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions but meet all other requirements for applying for a visa. “.
Adelaide-based migration agent Mark Glazbrook praised the government’s move.
Sir. Glazbrook, who spearheaded a petition for a “temporary change” to the s48 bar, said it was wonderful to see that Rule 2.12 has been changed after months of uncertainty and anxiety.
“This now allows genuine skilled migrants to apply on land for a subclass 190, 491 or 494 skilled migration visa, even if they are affected by section 48 of the Migration Act.
“Given the travel restrictions imposed under COVID and the unintended consequences this had on many hopeful skilled migrants, this is a significant milestone,” he said.
What is s48?
The Section 48 bar applies to applicants who are in Australia without a substantial visa and have had their visa rejected or canceled since their last entry into the country.
Under normal circumstances, applicants excluded from this section must leave Australia before applying for visas with certain limited exceptions.
But COVID-induced restrictions meant that potential visa applicants and those who could secure an invitation to the state nomination could not leave the country due to lack of international flights. At the same time, those who could travel could only re-enter after being granted an entry exemption, which is difficult to obtain.
“I wish the exemption was announced sooner”
Caught in this situation was Darwin-based chef Gurjinder Singh, who was subject to s48 bar after his application for a Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187) was rejected in 2017.
The 27-year-old, an administrator of the Facebook group ‘Section 48 Bar Waving Off’, said that when the government banned entry for temporary visa holders in March 2020, he could have endured an endless wait or left the country to lodge another visa.
“When all the doors closed, I took the risk of traveling offshore in October after having my skills assessment made for the occupation of a chef and applying for a temporary defective visa (subclass 482) from India,” he said.
While Mr Singh has now secured a visa as he is a temporary migrant, he, like hundreds of others, still has no way to return other than to try his luck at getting an internal exemption from the Australian Border Force.
“I have received five rejections of my waiver requests. Since I had no choice, I ended up spending over $ 25,000 traveling abroad and applying for a new visa. The government’s postponement for those affected by the s48 bar, is a step in the right direction, but I wish it had come faster for people like me, “he added.
‘S48 dispensation will help Australia address shortage of qualifications’
Sydney-based migration agent Rajwant Singh said government action is in the interest of the Australian economy and will go a long way in addressing the acute shortage of skills, particularly in regional areas.
“Most visa applications subject to s48 bar are highly educated people who meet the requirements for qualified visa applications. The exemption will allow all states, many of which had stopped nominating these applicants, to take advantage of them on land to to fill the critical shortage of qualifications created by the pandemic.
“The government does not want to let go of these skilled migrants, especially when employers, especially in regional areas, are struggling to hire people with experience to run their businesses. So it is a win-win for both – the economy and the migrants,” he said.
Sir. However, Singh warned that this could be a temporary relief and urged eligible onshore applicants to apply for suitable roads at the earliest opportunity.
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