A number of visa options, including skilled work and visitor visas, a temporary humanitarian Ukrainian visa, priority processing and visa extensions are some of the special measures implemented so far for Ukrainian nationals and their families wanting to flee the country due to the devastating Ukraine/Russia crisis.
And TMA’s Managing Director, Sarah Thapa, is encouraging employers and organisations to move quickly before restrictions are imposed.
At TMA, we have been working with our clients impacted by the crisis in Ukraine and Russia, to develop plans to bring Ukrainian employees and family members to Australia. With a strong pool of talent in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, particularly in the tech and science sectors, many of our business clients have team members in Ukraine, or are looking at ways they can support professionals such as software engineers, developers and scientists, to secure employment and safe passage from the region to Australia.
In this blog, Sarah explains the options available to support Ukrainian nationals looking for a safe haven in Australia and organisations with team members seeking to exit Ukraine.
Visa options available to Ukrainian nationals and organisations
According to the Australian government, more than 4500 visas have been granted to Ukrainian nationals since February 2022, with more than 600 of the Ukrainian visa holders already arriving in Australia. This cohort includes skilled work, visitor and partner/parent visa categories (Source: Australian Government)
1. Temporary humanitarian visa (subclass 786)
The temporary humanitarian visa (subclass 786) is available to all Ukrainian temporary visa holders currently in Australia and those who arrive in the coming months. It will be valid for three years and allows people to work, study and access Medicare. School-aged children will also be able to continue their education and support will be given to find long-term accommodation.
The 786 visa does not usually allow the holder to apply for permanent residency (which is why, at TMA, we usually recommend humanitarian visas as a last resort where a person can not apply for a visa through their employment or family relations). However, the Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister, Alex Hawke, has indicated a PR pathway will be available toUkrainian applicants. We are yet to see the details of this PR pathway and will keep you updated as more information comes to hand on this immigration change.
2. Priority processing of all visa applications
The Australian Government is progressing temporary and permanent visa applications from Ukrainian nationals as a priority, particularly for people with a connection to Australia.
Priority processing for Ukrainians (based in Australia) with families who wish to apply for visa will also be priority processed. Close family members can apply on behalf of their family members in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian nationals who do not hold a valid passport should seek immigration advice from an Australian immigration specialist like TMA, as visa applications can be submitted without a valid passport.
3. Visa extensions for Ukrainians already in Australia
Ukrainian nationals who have arrived on a temporary visa, and wish to extend their stay in Australia, should get in touch with our highly skilled team.
An automatic six-month visa extension is in place for Ukrainian nationals in Australia whose visas are due to expire before June 30, 2022. Ukrainian nationals and their families also have access to free interpreting and translating services.
What TMA can do to help affected organisations and individuals
1. Choosing the right visa
There are a number of different visa options available, including short-term work visas, longer-term work visas, visitor visas and family visas for partners, parents and children. It’s important to understand the eligibility criteria for each visa option, as well as the pathways available for renewal and future applications under each category.
For example, a skilled worker should choose the most suitable and practical visa for entry to Australia, and to apply for a further work application or permanent residency once they are onshore in Australia.
Some visas have certain criteria attached to them, with many temporary work or visitor visas having genuine temporary entrant criterion, which requires an applicant to show they intend only to remain in Australia on a temporary basis.
Given the conflict in Ukraine and the challenges of returning to the applicant’s home country, navigating these criteria becomes more complex.
It’s important that employers move quickly to determine a plan because as the crisis unfolds there may be restrictions on applying for a visa. Contact us to work through a strategy to bring someone to Australia.
2. Guidance for Ukraine visa applicants
- Documentation: It’s important for visa applicants to have the key documentation required for the visa they are applying for. For example, most visas require a passport and other identity documents, as well as other documentary evidence such as qualifications, employment records, and vaccination documents. Some visas require evidence of finances, others require evidence of English language or police clearances.
Where it is not possible to meet all documentary requirements for an application, it may be necessary to utilise another type of visa for entry to Australia, which may be subject to certain conditions. For example, for some applicants there may be challenges in arranging police checks or booking medical appointments due to an indefinite delay with government departments and other organisations being shut down in Ukraine because of the crisis.
We do expect the crisis to impact applicants’ ability to meet some criteria, which is why specialist immigration support is critical.
- Vaccinations: For entry into Australia, applicants must be vaccinated and have a vaccination recognised by the Australian Government. This is a list of approved vaccinations. Travel exemptions may be required for travellers who do not meet the vaccination conditions in Australia.
It can also be more difficult to apply for a visa is situation such as this, so we highly recommend getting specialist immigration advice so applicants know up front which is the most suitable visa, the documentation they need to hold, and how to best go about applying for the visa to minimise any delays in health, character and other clearances needed for various visas.
Get up-to-date visa information and advice from TMA
The Ukraine and Russian crisis calls for specialist immigration support. If your organisation has team members in either country, or you are a Ukrainian national looking to come to Australia on a temporary or permanent visa, please get in touch with the highly skilled team at TMA. We are here to help, support and guide you through the current situation. Contact us today.