Web Alert: Visa arrangements required for foreign nationals working on vessels in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry
News & Insights 26 October 2016
The High Court of Australia unanimously declared on 31 August 2016  that the federal government’s decision to exempt foreign workers on vessels in the offshore oil and gas industry from visa requirements was invalid.
In July 2015, the club published the ‘Current status of international Workers working in the offshore recourses support industry in Australia’ in which the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia declared that all international workers employed on support offshore projects do not fall within the operation of Australia’s Migration Act 1958 which meant that they did not require to hold work visas and were not subject to the Australian employment conditions.
The High Court of Australia unanimously declared on 31 August 2016  that the federal government’s decision to exempt foreign workers on vessels in the offshore oil and gas industry from visa requirements was invalid. This now has the effect of enforcing visa requirements on foreign workers who are employed on offshore vessels in Australia’s oil and gas industry. Australian citizens or permanent residents are not affected by this ruling.
Although the High Court’s judgment was welcomed by the Maritime Union of Australia which described it as a victory and said that it would keep safe local jobs on offshore oil and gas projects and prevent the potential misuse of foreign workers, the federal government was of the opposite opinion believing that this would “add to red tape, add costs to industry and reduce the competitiveness of what is one of Australia’s biggest export earners”.
Members who are currently operating in Australia’s offshore sector must ensure that they conform to Australia’s law on employment and immigration and are kindly advised, if required, to seek legal advice from their usual local lawyers.
 Maritime Union of Australia v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  HCA 34