Australia settles visa question for offshore oil, gas industry

4 Dec 15

AUSTRALIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Australia has prescribed the Subclass 400 and Subclass 457 visas as the appropriate temporary visas for foreign nationals working in Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals working in the offshore oil and gas industry must have either a Subclass 400, Subclass 457 or permanent Australian visa. A regulation stipulating that these are the appropriate visas for such workers aims to bring certainty to the industry following a court ruling in March that threatened to throw the industry into flux.

  • Implementation time frame: The Regulation takes effect on 14 December 2015.
  • Visas/permits affected: Subclass 400 (Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity)) and Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visas.
  • Who is affected: Offshore oil and gas companies and the foreign nationals they employ.
  • Impact on processing times: No significant impact.
  • Business impact: The regulation aims to provide certainty to the offshore oil and gas industry and protect the work rights of foreign nationals working in the industry.

Background: Australia’s oil and gas industry has faced questions concerning what types of visas foreign nationals should have for some time. The confusion dates to the 2013 Offshore Resources Activity Act, which effectively required foreign nationals to hold permanent visas to work in the industry. In March, a federal court invalidated the Government’s attempts to “except” offshore oil and gas workers from the law, temporarily throwing the industry into flux. Michaelia Cash, then the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, subsequently issued a determination to protect the work rights of affected foreign nationals. The recent regulation aims to add additional certainty.

BAL Analysis: The regulation allows foreign nationals to work offshore provided they have either a Subclass 400 or Subclass 457 visa. Offshore oil and gas companies with foreign national employees who do not hold a Subclass 400, Subclass 457 or permanent visa should contact their BAL professional as soon as possible to ensure their workers have the appropriate visas.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

MARN: 9683856

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