Extended Working Holiday Visa for Australia

Backpackers helping with the recovery from the bushfires can now apply for 12-month visas

It has just been announced that working holiday visas for Australia have now been extended to allow visitors to work for 12 months in one place, with immediate effect. The aim is to encourage more people to help with the extensive recovery effort following the bushfires. It will allow people travelling to Australia on a year out to stay for longer at one location so that they can assist with essential work in construction and on farms and help out communities down under impacted by the recent events.

Why extend my working holiday visa?

If you want to do something to help after the bushfires and subsequent floods in Australia, a working holiday visa could be a great way to travel and help restore the many impressive sights. Other visas are available for skilled workers and those looking for a longer term career in Australia, but if you’re unsure whether you’re ready to make the move, a working holiday visa can be a great way to give you a taste of life down under and consider whether it’s right for you. In addition, you’ll be doing vital work to help the country heal, protect the landscape and support the fascinating wildlife.

To learn more Contact Us

Festive Season Office Closure

During the festive season, Thames Migration offices in both Australia and the United Kingdom will close from Monday 23rd December 2019 and reopen on Thursday 2nd January 2020.

From the entire Thames Migration team, we wish you all a merry festive season and a Happy New Year!

16 November 2019 changes & Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)

Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491)

On 16 November 2019, the new Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) commenced.

This visa is for skilled workers who want to live and work in regional Australia and is valid for five years.

People who are granted a subclass 491 visa may be able to apply for a Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa (subclass 191) once certain requirements are met.


Intending migrants can now submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the new subclass 491 visa.


Points test changes


On 16 November 2019, changes were made to the points test for General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas. These changes apply to all GSM visa applications which have not been assessed under the GSM points test prior to 16 November 2019.


Changes to Partner points


Intending migrants:

 who do not have a spouse or de facto partner are eligible to claim 10 points

 with a spouse or de facto partner who is an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident are eligible to claim 10 points

 with a skilled spouse or de facto partner who:

o will be included in the visa application for the same subclass of visa as the intending migrant;

o is not an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident;

o is under 45 years of age;

o has nominated a skilled occupation;

o has a suitable skills assessment by the relevant assessing authority for the nominated occupation and the assessment was not for a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa; and

o has at least ‘Competent English’


are eligible to claim 10 points (increased from 5 points)


 with a spouse or de facto partner who has ‘Competent English’, who is not an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident and who will be included in the visa application for the same visa subclass as the intending migrant, are eligible to claim 5 points.


Other changes to the points test from 16 November 2019


Intending migrants:


 who claim a specialist education qualification are eligible to claim 10 points (increased from 5 points)

 who seek visa subclass 491 nomination from a State or Territory government agency or are sponsored by an eligible family member can claim 15 points (previously 10 points).


More information on the points test is available at: subclass 491 – points-table


New Regional Postcodes

On 16 November 2019, the Designated Regional Area instrument commenced. The instrument specifies postcodes eligible for points in Regional Study or subclass 491 nomination by a State or Territory government or sponsorship by an eligible family member.

More information is available at: eligible regional areas


Regional Study

Intending migrants who had an EOI in ‘submitted’ status prior to 16 November 2019, may now be eligible for regional study points because areas regarded as regional have expanded as a result of the new Designated Regional Area definition.


EOIs submitted before 16 November 2019

SkillSelect will automatically update EOIs in ‘submitted’ status to attribute any additional points, where required information was held in SkillSelect before 16 November 2019.

This includes cases where an intending migrant indicated in their EOI, they do not have a spouse or de facto partner; or their spouse or de facto partner is an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident. The date of effect* will not change where points are automatically updated.

Points will also automatically update when claiming skilled partner points and/or a specialist educational qualification. The date of effect will not change.


Updating an EOI on or after 16 November 2019

Where an EOI was submitted before 16 November 2019 and information was not held in SkillSelect at that time, an intending migrant can choose to update their EOI to claim any additional points (as applicable). The date of effect will change in these cases.


This includes situations where an intending migrant wants to claim points for a spouse or de facto partner with ‘Competent English’ only. In this circumstance, an intending migrant can now update their EOI to answer questions on their partner’s English language ability. Where additional points are claimed, the date of effect will change.

Where an intending migrant chooses to update their EOI to claim points for regional study, because they are now eligible, the EOI date of effect will also change. However, if they had submitted an EOI prior to

16 November 2019 and had already claimed points for regional study, the EOI date of effect will not change.


EOIs in ‘suspended’ status

EOIs which had a ‘suspended’ status on 16 November 2019, will not have any points automatically attributed or updated.

Intending migrants can update EOIs with a ‘suspended’ status and may be required to answer new questions as a result of changes to the points test. If their points score changes, their EOI date of effect will change.


EOIs in ‘draft’ status

From 16 November 2019, intending migrants with an EOI with a ‘draft’ status can update their EOI in SkillSelect. They may be required to answer additional questions as a result of changes to the points test.

Adding subclass 491 to an existing EOI

From 16 November 2019, intending migrants can add subclass 491 to a submitted EOI. The date of effect for the subclass 491 will be the date it is added. Where this is the only change, the date of effect for previously selected subclasses will not change.

If an intending migrant updates their EOI and this changes their indicative points test score, the date of effect will change for the relevant visa subclass/es.


* Date of effect is the date and time the intending migrant submitted their EOI for the relevant visa subclass.


To learn more if you maybe eligible complete our FREE online assessment today

Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491) Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa (subclass 494)

New regional work visas from 16 November 2019. The visa subclass 491 will offer 14,000 places each year for the foreign skilled workers living and working in regional areas.

Permanent residency (PR) pathway is also available for eligible applicants and their families.


Two temporary visas, Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491) Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa (subclass 494) will be available from 16 November 2019.

The much-anticipated visas will offer 23,000 places each year and will replace the existing visa subclasses 489 and 187.

The holders of these visas will be required to work and stay in the designated regional areas until they become eligible for permanent residency. Perth and the  Gold Coast now included.

Key features of visa subclass 491

This is a temporary visa which is available for eligible skilled workers and their families to live, work and study in regional Australia for 5 years.

It is a point-based visa where an applicant requires either a state nomination or a sponsorship from an eligible family member who is settled in designated regional areas.

Here are some key features of Skilled Work Regional visa (subclass 491):

  • 14000 places to be allocated each year
  • A wide range of occupations are eligible (over 500)
  • Age limit is set at 45 years
  • Visa to be granted for 5 years
  • Must live and work in regional areas for at least 3 years before being eligible for PR
  • Regional area is mainly anywhere except metropolitan Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth
  • The applicant should be earning a minimum wage of $ 53,900 per annum for three years (concessions may apply)
  • Visa holder is allowed to move from one regional area to another
  • PR pathway available through visa subclass 191 that will commence from 16 November 2022
  • Visa is available for an application fee of $4,045 and the partner fee is set at $2,025.

Difference between the 489 visa (ceased) and 491 visa

The 491 visa holders will now have to wait for 3 years for PR while it used to be 2 years in the visa subclass 489.

The new visa covers more regional areas compared to 489 visa. The areas where the holders of 491 visa can live include all areas in Australia except metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane.

There will be more points available under the new visa – unmarried or single applicants will get extra points that serve as a bonus for bachelors and there will be more points to available for eligible relative sponsors and skilled partners with competent English.

How the point system will work for this visa

This is how the points will be awarded:

  • 10 points for a skilled partner or spouse (previously 5 points with 489 visa)
  • 5 points for applicants with a spouse or partner with competent English (no points previously)
  • 10 points for applicants who are single (no points previously)
  • 15 points if nominated by State or Territory (previously less than 10 points)
  • 15 points if the applicant is sponsored by a family member residing in regional Australia (previously 10 points)
  • Certain STEM qualifications will get 10 points


To learn more contact us today.


Perth and Gold Coast deemed regional

Perth regional status reinstated

Senator for Western Australia Mathias Cormann, in conjunction with WA Premier Mark McGowan and WA Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery, have jointly announced that Perth’s status as a regional city will be reinstated from 16 November 2019.

This will allow international students to study in Perth and become eligible for an additional year on a Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa.

The full media release is available here

Gold Coast confirmed as regional | Extra 2000 regional places

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Hon Alan Tudge MP and the Hon Dan Tehan MP have confirmed in a joint press release that the Gold Coast will be included in the list of locations designated as regional on 16 November 2019.

An extra 2,000 skilled regional visa places have also been announced, increasing the regional cap from 23,000 to 25,000.

While there has been no confirmation as yet of how these places will be accounted for, it is highly likely that they will be taken out of the skilled independent subclass 189 program.

The full press release is available here

To learn more, contact us.

Parent Sponsorship changes from 17 April 2019

The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016, passed by Parliament on 28 November 2018, will provide a framework to separate sponsorship assessments from visa application assessments for Family visas.

The separate sponsorship framework will first be implemented in the new Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa which will be open for sponsorship applications from 17 April 2019.

Further regulation and system changes are required for the new framework to apply to other visas.  At this stage, there is no timeframe for expansion of the new sponsorship framework to other family visas and therefore the current arrangements for existing visas, including partner visas, will continue to operate from 17 April 2019.


Do you need help with an Australian visa application?
At Thames Migration we are experienced in assisting applicants in all matters relating to Australian visa applications. Our areas of expertise include Partner Visas, Skilled Migration visas, Business Skills Migration visas, Employer Sponsored Work Visas and other Family Migration visas as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Review, Judicial Review and Ministerial Intervention.

If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:
Australia: 1300 799 877 or +61 4 12525 232 or info@thamesmigration.com 
United Kingdom: 0208 996 01202

Visas for GPs initiative

The Visas for GPs initiative will manage growth in Australia’s medical workforce by regulating the number of doctors entering Australia to work in the primary healthcare sector through the skilled migration program. The Visas for GPs initiative will commence on 11 March 2019.

All employers nominating a position that will be filled by a doctor who needs a visa to work in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) occupations below will be required to obtain certification (a Health Workforce Certificate) from a Rural Workforce Agency (RWA). A Health Workforce Certificate is a letter issued by a RWA confirming the genuine need to fill a primary healthcare position at a given location in Australia by a doctor in the following three occupations:

  • General Practitioner (ANZSCO 253111)
  • Resident Medical Officer (ANZSCO 253112)
  • Medical Practitioners not elsewhere classified (ANZSCO 253999).

Employers will be required to attach a Health Workforce Certificate to their nomination application for any of the following employer sponsored visas:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.

Under this initiative, the number of doctors entering the primary healthcare workforce through the skilled migration program will be reduced by about 200 doctors a year, over a period of four years. This initiative will direct doctors into areas that have lower access to services such as rural, remote and regional areas of Australia.

Further information regarding the Visas for GPs initiative, HWC and RWA is on the Department of Health’s DoctorConnect website. http://www.doctorconnect.gov.au/internet/otd/publishing.nsf/Content/visas_for_GPs

To learn more Contact Us in the UK or Australia.


Skilled Occupation Lists – changes to occupations

Five Legislative Instruments were registered yesterday Sunday 10 March 2019 and commence TODAY 11 March 2019.

Legislative Instrument – F2019L00276 – Migration (LIN 19/047: Specification of Occupations – Subclass 187 Visa) Instrument 2019

Applies to RSMS nominations made on or after 11 March 2019, this Instrument is not retrospective.

Includes the requirement for the Health Workforce Certificate for specified medical practitioner occupations.

Legislative Instrument – F2019L00274 – Migration (LIN 19/048: Specification of Occupations—Subclass 482 Visa) Instrument 2019

Applies to nominations made on or after 11 March 2019, this Instrument is not retrospective.

Includes the requirement for the Health Workforce Certificate for specified medical practitioner occupations.

Legislative Instrument – F2019L00275 – Migration (LIN 19/049: Specification of Occupations and Assessing Authorities—Subclass 186 Visa) Instrument 2019

Applies prospectively to ENS nominations and visas made on or after 11 March 2019, this Instrument is not retrospective.

Includes the requirement for the Health Workforce Certificate for specified medical practitioner occupations.

Legislative Instrument – F2019L00277 – Migration (LIN 19/050: Specification of Occupations—Subclass 407 Visa) Instrument 2019

All occupations on STSOL, MLTSSL and ROL are eligible.

Applies to nominations for OTV made on or after 11 March 2019, this Instrument is not retrospective.

Legislative Instrument – F2019L00278 – Migration (LIN 19/051: Specification of Occupations and Assessing Authorities) Instrument 2019

Specifies skilled occupations and assessing authorities for invitation for Subclasses189,190, 489, 485 visas and for partner points for Subclasses 189 and 190.

Adds 36 occupations to the MLTSSL, removes 27 occupations from the STSOL, adds 18 occupations to the ROL, changes occupational caveats and assessing authorities for a small number of occupations.

Does not affect invitations or applications made after 18 March 2018 and before 11 March 2019.



Occupational Caveats

Occupational caveats have been re-titled Applicable circumstances and Inapplicability conditions have also been imposed on some occupations.


These applicable circumstances appear to be an improvement on the previous caveats, which often used double negatives in the phrasing.


Changes to the lists and applicable conditions are available at this link:


To learn more about these changes, contact us today.

New Sponsored Parent (Temporary) (Subclass 870) coming soon!

The Department of Home Affairs will introduce a new temporary parent visa this year. The subclass 870 Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa is expected to open up for applications on 1 July 2019. Under this visa, sponsored parents will be permitted to stay in Australia for up to 5 years.

The visa is intended to be an alternative to the very short-term visitor’s visa and will provide parents with a way to reunite with their children and grandchildren over a sustained period of time. The migrant community has long been concerned over the limited number of permanent Parent visas. The Department is hoping this new temporary Parent visa will ease the pressure on the permanent Parent visa.

Children wishing to sponsor their parents for the 870 can submit an application to be a sponsor from April 17 2019. To be eligible to be a sponsor, the applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a sponsor/parent relationship. The parent must be biological, adoptive, or a step-parent where the step-parent must be in married/de facto relationship with a biological parent of the sponsor;
  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be an Australian Citizen/permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who has been a resident in Australia for 4 years;
  • Have met any prior sponsorship obligations;
  • Have no debts to the Commonwealth or public health debts;
  • Meet the minimum household income threshold. Sponsors will be financially responsible for their parents;
  • Provide police clearances for any country they have spent more than 12 months cumulatively in during the past 10 years;
  • Have no adverse information unless it is reasonable to disregard the information;
  • Authorise information to be shared with the visa applicant.

The cost of the 870 will be $5,000 for a visa of up to 3 years duration, or $10,000 for a visa up to 5 years duration. There will only be 15,000 spots for the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa granted annually. This limitation means the visa application process will be very competitive; therefore it is important to submit a thorough application as soon as submissions open up.

If you want more information, or need help submitting an application for the 870 Temporary Parent visa give our office a call on 1300 799 877 or in the UK on 0208 996 0120.