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Latest Updates on Australian Immigration 2023: 189, 491 Visas & Covid Concessions Revealed!

The COVID-19 concession period ceased on 25 November 2023. The former Government implemented temporary measures related to an initial concession period. This was to provide concessions for applicants of certain visa subclasses affected by travel restrictions, which made it difficult for them to meet visa requirements. This included where the applicant must be located at the time of application.

The concession period is no longer relevant as all COVID-19 international travel restrictions have been lifted. Travelers to Australia no longer need to:

  • provide information about their vaccination status, or

  • seek travel exemptions. 

Ending the concession period will contribute to a well-managed migration system. 

The impacted visa programs that utilise the initial concession period are:

Employer-Sponsored Visas

From 25 November 2023, new nominations for the following visa streams will require Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) holders to have worked in a position with their sponsoring employer or worked in the occupation for medical practitioners and certain executives, for 2 out of the previous 3 years.

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)

  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)

  • Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream.

The following COVID-19 concessions will become redundant and will end:

  • Periods of reduced work due to COVID-19 will not count towards meeting the work experience requirements for new ENS/RSMS TRT stream nomination applications.

  • The COVID-19 concession to the age exemption for high-income earning applicants will not apply to new ENS/RSMS visa applications.

The age exemption for legacy 457 workers in Australia for 12 months during the pandemic from 1 February 2020 to 14 December 2021 will apply for ENS visa applications lodged before 1 July 2024.

Skilled Regional Visa subclass 887

The concessions allowed eligible prospective subclass 887 visa applicants to lodge from in or outside Australia during the concession period and to access shorter periods of employment and regional residence requirements.

Applicants can only access the employment requirement concession if they:

  • held an eligible skilled provisional visa during the concession period, and

  • made a valid application on or before Monday 26 February 2024.

The ending of the concession period will end any other concessions for the subclass 887 visa.

After 25 November 2023 eligible skilled provisional visa holders applying for a subclass 887 visa must be in Australia, but not in immigration clearance, when applying.

Business Innovation and Investment Program visas

COVID-19 concessions were put in place for the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) under the:

  • provisional subclass 188 visa - Business Innovation Extension stream

  • permanent subclass 888 visa under all streams.

BIIP applicants who are eligible to exercise COVID-19 concessions to make a valid application can do so for 3 months after the end of the concession period. Applications must be submitted before the end of Monday 26 February 2024.

Grant locations for Subclasses 309, 820, and 485 visas - Access to AAT for SC 309 visa applicants

The new amendments

  • allow Partner Subclasses 309 and 820 visas to be granted to applicants whether they are inside or outside Australia at the time of visa grant. 

  • From 25 November 2023, all applications for any stream of the Temporary Graduate Visa (TGV) program must be lodged in Australia. Subsequent entrant applications can be lodged in or outside of Australia.

  • The ability to grant applications to applicants who are either in or outside of Australia (but not in immigration clearance) will continue

  • provide Subclass 309 Partner visa applicants the ability to apply for merits review in their own right rather than the sponsor, facilitating better access for family violence victims and other compassionate circumstances. This provides the same rights to SC 309 visa applicants as those already available to SC 820 visa applicants. 

A possible small SC 189 invitation before Christmas has been flagged to the MIA. Applicants may want to ensure that their current EOIs in the system have up-to-date information and current documents so they are not adversely impacted in the next round of invitations.

The NSW Government is undertaking a restructuring of its government departments including Investment NSW, which currently manages the NSW state-sponsored migration program. As part of these changes, the NSW Regional Development Australia approval processes for the Subclass 491 visa have been abolished. This function will be taken over by the NSW government. 

The following changes have been made to the visa nomination criteria and procedures, aimed at improving clarity and the application experience, and are now available on the NSW website.

 There are two pathways to obtain NSW nomination for the subclass 491 visa:

  • Pathway 1: Direct Application to Investment NSW - Candidates with an established work history with a regional NSW-based employer 

  • Pathway 2: Invitation by Investment NSW - Candidates selected by Investment NSW based on the need for their skills in NSW.

Direct Applications and Invitation Rounds

NSW Investment will shortly begin accepting direct applications for 'Pathway 1' and commence invitation rounds for 'Pathway 2'.

Investment NSW is working with the RDAs to handle any applications that are currently being held by those authorities. 

If you have any questions, please book a consultation with us. 


The information shared by Nationwide Migration and Education on social media and blogs is for general informational purposes only. (The information is accurate at the time of publication but may be subject to change.) It is not legal or immigration advice and should not be relied upon as such.

If you need immigration advice specific to your circumstances, please book a consultation with our Registered Migration Agent.

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