• Changes Proposed to Work Authorization Requirements for Offshore Resource Workers
  • April 10, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A bill currently before Parliament would, if approved, repeal the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (the ORA Act), which is set to take effect on June 30, 2014. If the repeal bill becomes law, immigration rules will remain unchanged, and employment authorization will not be required for foreign nationals working on vessels within Australian territorial waters that are not connected to the seabed or working on vessels involved in pipe-laying activities within territorial waters.

    The ORA Act was passed by the previous government, and it alters the boundaries of Australia’s Migration Zone - the area in which Australia’s standard immigration rules apply - to encompass all offshore work. As a result, the ORA Act effectively requires all foreign offshore workers to hold a visa granting employment authorization if they will work in any capacity on an offshore resource project, including workers on a seismic or pipe-lying vessel, geophysicists conducting a seismic survey and support staff on the vessel, such as on-board cooks, cleaners and others involved in offshore resource projects.

    What This Means for Employers

    If the repeal bill is successful there will be no change to the existing system. Employers should continue to ensure that, where required, foreign nationals working within Australia’s territorial waters hold valid work authorization.

    If the repeal bill is not successful, employers will need to ensure that all foreign nationals engaged in offshore resource projects conducted within Australian territorial waters hold a valid visa with work authorization.