Immigration changes facilitating movement in the Australia-China corridor

ChAFTA facilitates movement in Australia-China corridor

Michael Wall explores how ChAFTA could impact travel and work arrangements for business.

National Leader, Immigration Services, MARN 9576974

KPMG Australia


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A raft of immigration announcements shows how Australia and China are increasingly facilitating travel and work between the two countries. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) is the big ticket item impacting travel and work arrangements for business and investment. ChAFTA was signed on 17 June 2015 but both countries must complete domestic treaty making processes to bring it into force.

In addition to the ChAFTA, Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has also announced:

  • a new Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa program, beginning with 5000 visas
  • an expanded trial of online visa lodgements for Chinese
  • trials on 10-year visitor visas.

ChAFTA debate has revolved around the impact on Australian jobs if immigration controls are relaxed on skills assessments and labour market testing of Chinese workers. The ChAFTA side letter on skills assessment brings the skills testing processes for Chinese visa applicants into line with those for applicants from most other countries around the world by not automatically requiring formal skills assessments for work visas for certain occupations. Skills criteria still apply though.

Investment Facilitation Arrangements (IFAs) will be available under a separate MOU concluded alongside ChAFTA. These will allow Chinese companies making significant investments in Australia (more than $150 million in specific types of infrastructure development projects) to access skilled overseas workers when suitable local workers cannot be found. IFAs will be negotiated with the Government, and we expect labour market testing issues will be addressed in the overall agreement.

The potential economic rewards for lower barriers to travel and work exchanges between the two countries could be substantial, but immigration requirements remain complex for businesses looking to take advantage of these announcements. KPMG’s immigration services team have specific expertise working in the Australia-China corridor and can assist clients in navigating through the immigration requirements.

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