AUSTRALIA: Visa Exemptions Invalid for Offshore Oil and Gas Workers

On 31st August 2016, the High Court of Australia ruled that a determination by the Minister for Immigration pursuant to subsection 9A(6) of the Migration Act in December last year (‘IMMI 15/140’) was invalid.
The Ministerial Determination allowed foreign workers employed on a vessel or structure that is used for offshore resources operations or activities, but that is not an Australian resources installation, to be considered as outside the migration zone and therefore exempt from visa requirements.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) / Australian Maritime Officer”s Union (AMOU) sought a declaration from the High Court that the Ministerial Determination was invalid. The High Court agreed and has declared that the determination was invalid and of no effect.

The High Court found that the determination exceeded the limited power of subsection 9A(6), as it entirely negated the extension of visa requirements to workers on vessels and structures that were not Australian resources installations.

As a result of the ruling, foreigners working in the offshore oil and gas industry within Australian waters will not be excluded from visa requirements and minimum work conditions. Offshore oil and gas projects and service providers will be required to obtain visas for their non-Australian employees before they can work.

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