Immigration Amendments November 2020

Released quietly last week, the Department of Home Affairs introduced a number of amendments to Working Holiday, Distinguished Talent, and permanent Skilled Regional Visas. We look at some of the key changes below.

Working Holiday Visas

Effective from 14 November 2020, changes have been made to the definition of 'specified work' for Subclass 417 visas. This no longer states that the work must be regional, but it must be specified work under the 417 program. This brings it in line with the Subclass 462 wording.

This now means that work undertaken in critical COVID pandemic sectors as the holder of:

  • An eligible Subclass 408 Covid-19 pandemic event visa; or
  • A Bridging visa that was in effect while they waited for processing of an eligible Subclass 408 visa

can now be counted towards 'specified work' for a second or third Subclass 417 or 462 visa. This applies to visa applications made on or after 14 November 2020.

An eligible Subclass 408 visa is defined as a 408 visa applied for:

  • while the applicant held a 417 or 462 visa; or
  • within 28 days after the day when the 417 or 462 visa expired; or
  • while the applicant held an earlier eligible 408 visa; or
  • within 28 days after an earlier eligible 408 visa held by the applicant expired.

Critical COVID-19 work includes:

  • medical treatment, nursing, contact tracing, testing and research;
  • support services such as cleaning of medical and health care facilities and equipment.

Finally, if an applicant for a second or third 417/462 visa holds an eligible 408 visa at the time they apply, the new visa granted would allow a stay for a further 12 months after the day that the eligible 408 visa would have expired.

Distinguished Talent

Utilised as part of the Global Talent Independent (GTI) program, Immigration has simplified the Distinguished Talent visa by combining the onshore and offshore categories into the one Subclass 858 visa. This means that it is no longer possible to apply for the Subclass 124 visa.

Changes allow for the visa to be applied for and granted regardless of where the applicant is located, as well as introducing a 'health waiver' provision for applicants and family members.

Prospective applicants for this visa who are in Australia at lodgement will now be able to apply as the holder of a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B, or C.

Subclass 124 visa applications lodged before 14 November 2020 are not affected by these changes.

Subclass 887 Skilled Regional Visas

Amendments to the Subclass 887 allows for the visa to be granted to applicants who are outside Australia, provided their application was:

  • Made before 19 September 2020 and has not yet been decided; or
  • Made on or after 19 September 2020

This amendment is to ensure that Subclass 887 applicants who lodged in Australia and subsequently travelled overseas are not disadvantaged by being unable to return to Australia during border closures.


The above is a simplification of complex legislative instruments, and does not cover all of the specific requirements or situations. As legislation is constantly changing, we strongly recommend obtaining advice on your individual situation from an experienced Registered Migration Agent.

Stay up to date - Subscribe to Immigration News!