Santa Claus knows obtaining his Australian visa is a streamlined process but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has reminded him there are trainee elves on student visas who need to consider their options before their visas expire early in the new year.
Given Santa’s intention to engage in limited work of a highly specialised and non-ongoing nature while down under, he applied for a subclass 456 business short stay visa. Santa's visa was approved quickly, given the happiness that had resulted from previous visits and his excellent record of compliance with past entry conditions.
“Australia has a world-class education system and we frequently have up-and-coming elves travel to Australia on student visas, where they’re seeking to hone their toy-making skills through courses such as industrial design and engineering,” a DIAC spokesman said.
Most elves return to the North Pole upon completion of their studies. Those elves whose studies have come to an end need to think about their options once the Christmas season is over. This may be to make arrangements to depart or apply for another visa.
Elves can apply for a skilled visa through SkillSelect and await an outcome offshore if they are hoping to return as permanent skilled migrants.
"Some elves have come to Australia as part of a labour agreement Santa signed with the Australian Government in 2011,” the spokesman said. “The labour agreement allows only highly skilled elves to enter the country, establish operations and train Australian elves.
“Elves are not on the list of approved occupations for the subclass 457 visa, permanent employer nomination scheme or regional sponsored migration scheme but Santa was able to establish there was a genuine shortage of qualified elves here,” the spokesman added.
Santa has advised the department he would be contacting the affected trainee elves early in 2013 to ensure they complied with their visa conditions. He also asked about what options might be available for other young elves hoping to spend time in Australia.
“We told Santa we’re more than happy to enter negotiations with the North Pole to put in place a reciprocal working holiday agreement, meaning elves aged 18-30 can spend up to 12 months living and working in Australia and young Australians would have full work rights at the North Pole,” the spokesman said. “But for elves over 30 who are planning an extended stay involving singing and dancing performances while they visit Australia, they will need to find an Australian sponsor and go through the entertainment visa process.”