What is the ‘section 48 Bar’? Australia lifts section 48 bar for Skilled Migration Visas

The Australian government has announced major changes to the infamous ‘section 48 Bar’. Depending on your current situation, these changes may have an equally major effect on your immigration options.


This article explains what the section 48 Bar is, what the rules used to be, and finally the changes that have been made.


What is the ‘section 48 Bar’?

The section 48 Bar is the nickname given to a specific law found in the Migration Act. This law says that if you have a visa application refused while in Australia, you are not (in most cases) allowed to apply for another visa until you have first left the country.


For people affected by the Bar, the most common way of dealing with it has been to generally follow these three steps:


  1. Return to your home country
  2. Apply for another visa
  3. Wait for the visa to be granted, and return to Australia


However, much of the world continues living under strict COVID rules. Those affected by the Bar have been unable to make use of the traditional three-step method for two main reasons.


Firstly, flights out of Australia are still relatively rare. Flights that do exist are typically subject to incredibly high prices as a result of how few people are booking them.


Secondly, those who do manage to fly out of Australia and apply for another visa have no guarantee of being allowed back into Australia – even if their visa is granted. Australia’s borders are still, in large part, closed to the rest of the world. This includes most visa holders.


This has made the Bar, which was already somewhat frustrating to manage, practically impossible to overcome. Calls for this to be changed have now been acknowledged by the Australian government, who have introduced major changes to the Bar for certain visa subclasses.


What are the new rules?


Beginning on 13 November 2021, the Bar will NOT apply to the following visa subclasses:


  • Subclass 190 (Skilled Nominated)
  • Subclass 491 (Skilled Work Regional)
  • Subclass 494 (Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional)


This means that if you are currently in Australia and have had a visa application refused, you can apply for any of the three above visas while in the country.


Keep in mind that you will still need to be either on a substantive visa, or one of the following Bridging visas: A, B, or C.



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