• Offshore Workers Are Again Exempt from Standard Work Authorization Requirements
  • July 26, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • Australia no longer requires foreign nationals to hold a prescribed visa granting work authorization in order to work within Australian territorial waters on vessels that are not connected to the seabed or work on vessels involved in pipe-laying activities within territorial waters, effective July 17, 2014.

    The change is the result of a new legislative instrument that essentially nullifies recently implemented changes under the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (ORA Act).

    Foreign nationals engaging in offshore resources activities involving an Australian resources installation that is fixed to the Australian sea bed, such as a traditional oil rig, however, are required to hold an appropriate work visa, such as a subclass 457 visa.

    Foreign nationals do not require a work visa to engage in other offshore resource activities, which includes sea crew on seismic, pipe-laying or supply vessels; marine engineers; oceanographers; specialist divers; drillers and crane operators; and on-board cooks and cleaners working on vessels involved in exploration or exploitation of mineral and petroleum resources within Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the waters above the Continental Shelf. Though separate work authorization is not required, these travelers will need to hold a visa if they transition through Australia’s Migration Zone - the area in which Australia’s standard immigration rules apply. For example, foreign nationals would require a visa if they first arrive in Australia before boarding or being transferred to a seismic or pipe-laying vessel.

    What This Means for Employers

    There will be fewer administrative burdens and costs for employers with offshore workers who previously required work authorization.

    Employers should continue to ensure that, where required, foreign nationals working within Australia’s territorial waters hold valid work authorization.