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As you may be aware, the Department of Health introduces the Visas for GPs Initiative to reduce the number of overseas trained doctors (OTDs) entering the country each year. The initiative aims at diverting more OTDs into rural and remote areas where there is greater need for them.

If you missed our last update, you can access it here.

Delay of new initiative

We spoke with the agencies nominated to manage the new changes on Tuesday, 26 Feb to get an update on the latest development. They confirmed to us that the Visas for GPs Initiative won’t commence on 25 Feb as originally planned since the initiative hasn’t been approved by the Department of Home Affairs yet. While they maintain that the initiative is scheduled to enter into force on 11th March 2019, there is a good chance that it will be further delayed, depending on how soon the Department of Home Affairs can approve the new legislation. In our opinion, the upcoming government elections could have an impact on the implementation date as well.

Nomination applications

For the avoidance of any doubt, we suggest that employers work on the assumption that the new requirements will be enforced from the 11th March 2019.
A nomination application is valid for up to 12 months, meaning the visa application can be submitted at any point within this validity timeframe. In light of the proposed changes it may be prudent (under the guidance of a migration agent) to submit any pending nomination applications prior to the proposed date for implementation where all other legislative requirements have been met (eg. LMT).

Grandfathering program

We’ve been told that there may be a grandfathering program for GPs who are already partly through the relocation & registration process. One of the main considerations for this will be whether a contract has been signed with a medical practice in Australia prior to the changes coming into force.

Window of opportunity

Unfortunately, we don’t have enough details on the possible grandfathering program yet, however we do encourage OTDs to act now in this small window of opportunity, should they wish to work in Australian metropolitan areas. While it may be challenging to sign a contract within the next two weeks, our consultants are happy to assist you in arranging introductions and interviews where possible.

We will provide you with any further updates as they come to light.