What is the change? The Australian Government plans to halt a law passed by the former government and set to take effect this month that would have imposed stricter visa rules for oil-rig workers.

What does the change mean? The current government has introduced a new regulation overriding the requirement that offshore workers obtain a permanent “offshore resources visa” and replacing it with a relaxed rule that they hold only a permanent, maritime crew, or temporary work visa.

  • Implementation timeframe: The new regulation is expected to take effect on 30 June 2014.
  • Visas/permits affected: Permanent visas, Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew) visas, Subclass 400 (Temporary Work [Short Stay Activity]) visas, Subclass 457 (Temporary Work [Skilled]) visas.
  • Who is affected: Persons participating in, or supporting, an offshore resources activity.
  • Impact on processing times: There may be aslight increase as all offshore workers will require Subclass 988, 400 or 457 visas now.
  • Business impact: Businesses in the oil industry will benefit from eased rules and possible repeal of the “offshore resources visa.”
  • Next steps: BAL will update clients as details of the regulation and its implementation emerge.

Background: Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government unveiled the regulation as a way to quash the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act passed by the former Labor Government and set to take effect 30 June. That legislation regulates foreign workers and would have required that offshore workers obtain a new type of “offshore resources” visa.

Abbott’s Coalition Government tried to repeal the entire legislation but has not been successful. Instead, last week, Assistant Minister for Immigration, Michaelia Cash, introduced a regulation to ease the rule to require only permanent, maritime crew or temporary work visas. Cash has said the government will continue to pursue repeal of the Migration Amendment.

BAL Analysis: While the regulation is intended to soften the regulatory impact of new visa rules on foreign oil-rig workers, it is still unclear what procedures will be required for those workers to obtain such visas.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 9683856

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