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Critical technology - enhanced visa screening measures

​​​​​​​Visa applicants are now subject to critical technology-related screening under Public Interest Criterion 4003B.

Student (subclass 500) visa holders subject to visa condition 8208 are required to seek approval from the Minister for Home Affairs before undertaking a new critical technology-related course of study.

The Minister for Home Affairs has now specified kinds of critical technology as ‘critical technology’ for the purpose of the Migration Regulations.​​​

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Critical technology visa screening​

Enhanced visa screening protects Australia’s world-class science and technology institutions from malicious activities. Critical technologies drive Australia’s productivity, growth and the improvement of living standards.

Unwanted transfer of critical technologies and related expertise or knowledge harms Australia’s strategic and economic competitiveness. It also has the potential to harm our national security and undermine our democratic values and principles. 

University, research and industry sectors are key to our economic success and national security.

Some countries may seek to undermine Australia’s interests through foreign interference. Such activities can result in the transfer of knowledge or theft of intellectual property.

Changes from 1 April ​2024

On 1 April 2024, the Australian Government activated changes to the Migration Regulations 1994 (the Migration Regulations) made through the Migration Amendment (Protecting Australia’s Critical Technology) Regulations 2022 and the Migration Amendment (Postgraduate Research in Critical Technology—Student Visa Conditions) Regulations 2022 (collectively ‘the PACT Regulations’).

The changes to the Migration Regulations:

  • created a Public Interest Criterion 4003B (PIC 4003B) where the Minister for Home Affairs can refuse to grant certain visas if there is an unreasonable risk of unwanted transfer of critical technology by the visa applicant
  • created visa condition 8208, requiring Student (subclass 500) visa holders to obtain approval from the Minister for Home Affairs before undertaking a new critical technology-related course in the postgraduate research sector
  • provided grounds for the cancellation of a visa where the Minister for Home Affairs is satisfied that there is an unreasonable risk of unwanted transfer of critical technology by the visa holder.

These regulations ensure that Australia remains a destination and partner of choice for international research and collaboration, while safeguarding our research, science, ideas, information and capabilities.

Defining critical technologies

The Minister for Home Affairs has now defined the kinds of critical technology to be captured by the PACT Regulations. The technologies defined as critical technology are consistent with the List of Critical Technologies in the National Interest.

The technologies and their descriptions are available at Migration (Critical Technology - Kinds of Technology) Specification (LIN 24/010) 2024.

Public Interest Criterion 4003B

You are subject to critical technology-related visa screening if you are:

  • applying for a Student visa to undertake a postgraduate research course
  • a secondary applicant for a Student visa, and the primary applicant’s intended course is a postgraduate research course
  • applying for any of the following:
    • Employer Nomination Scheme visa (permanent, subclass 186)
    • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (permanent, subclass 187)
    • Skilled Independent visa (permanent, subclass 189)
    • Global Talent visa (permanent, subclass 858)
    • Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional, subclass 191)
    • Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity, subclass 400)
    • Training (subclass 407)
    • Temporary Activity (subclass 408)
    • Recognised Skill Graduate (subclass 476)
    • Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482)
    • Temporary Graduate (subclass 485)
    • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional, subclass 494).

You do not have to undertake any additional steps as part of your visa application. However, we may contact you for more information, before a decision is made. No additional cost applies.​

Visa condition 8208​​

If you applied for a Student (subclass 500) visa on or after 1 July 2022, your Student visa is subject to visa condition 8208. Under this condition, you must obtain written approval before undertaking a critical technology-related course of study in the postgraduate research sector. ​​This includes a:

  • postgraduate research course at masters degree (research) or doctoral degree level that relates to critical technology
  • bridging course identified as a prerequisite to a postgraduate research course relating to a critical technology
  • thesis or research topic for a postgraduate research course relating to critical technology.​

This approval can only be given after the Minister for Home Affairs is satisfied that you do not pose an unreasonable risk of unwanted transfer of critical technology.

To submit a request for approval to undertake a critical technology-related course in the postgraduate research sector, you need to complete a form and provide any evidence requested. The form to request approval is available here: Condition 8208 – Change of course approval request form.​

You do not have to seek approval for a course you commenced before 1 April 2024.​

As a visa holder, you are expected to understand and comply with the conditions of your visa. If you change your course of study to a critical technology-​related course of study, it is your responsibility to ensure you comply with your visa conditions, including the requirement to obtain approval from the Minister of Home Affairs. If you commence a critical technology-related course of study without first obtaining approval, you will breach visa condition 8208. As a result, your visa may be cancelled.


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