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Changes to Australia’s 457 visa program, Permanent Employer Sponsorship and Skilled Occupation Lists

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As per the announcement yesterday from the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are making some significant changes in policy including abolishing 457 visa program.

This means many different changes that are to be implemented ranging from immediate changes as of yesterday through till March 2018. This means that for many, we may need to re-evaluate and look at new potential pathways towards helping you achieve your goals.

Please see the information and links below.

Contents

1. Overview of Changes to Skilled Occupation Lists
2. What’s changing for 457 visas
3. What’s changing for permanent visas (ENS 186, RSMS 187)

1. Overview of Changes to Skilled Occupation Lists

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection announced that as of today some significant changes to 457 and other General Skilled visas will take place. An overview of the major changes is listed below:

– the CSOL has been replaced with the STSOL
– the SOL has been replaced with the MLTSSL
– 216 occupations were removed permanently
– Some occupations will need to meet specific conditions for sponsorship under 457 visas.

The removal of certain occupations from the lists means that there is no option for a person with that occupation to lodge a visa application under any of the following subclasses:
189, 190, 485, 489, 457, 186, 187

2. What’s changing for 457 visas

Changes as 19 April 2017:

• Government announced reforms to abolish the Temporary Work 457 visa and introduce a new Temporary Skills Shortage visa (TSS)
• The current 457 remains in place until March 2018
• Occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa have been significantly reduced from 651 to 435 occupations.
• 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted
• Of the 435 occupations, access to 24 occupations has been restricted to regional Australia (e.g. occupations relating to farming and agriculture)
• SOL and CSOL lists changed to MLTSSL [medium to long term] and STSOL [short term] lists

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What this means for you if:

a) you are a current 457 visa holder
Your current 457 visa will remain valid
Depending on your occupation and which list it is under, you may still be able to apply for PR [see below for more information]

b) you have applied for a 457 visa but have not had it finalised
If your occupation is on the MLTSSL list, you may still be granted 4 year visa. You may be eligible for renewal of the visa and PR after 3 years.
If your occupation is on the STSOL list, you will only be granted a 2 year visa. You may be eligible to renew the visa once only but there is no pathway for PR

c) you have not yet applied for a 457 visa.

Please refer to the timelines below for more specific information.

Changes from July 2017 and until 31 December 2017

From the 1st July 2017, the 457 visa will see a lot more stringent requirements including:

– High salary threshold exemptions [$96,400] will be removed
– Penal clearance certificates will be mandatory
– training benchmarks requirement will be made clearer
– STSOL list will be reviewed every 6 months
– DIBP will begin collecting Tax File Numbers [TFN] for 457 visa holders and data will be matched with Australian Tax Office [ATO] records to make sure 457 employees are being paid their nominated salary.
– DIBP will begin publishing details of Sponsors who have been sanctioned for failure to meet their Sponsorship Obligations.

Changes from March 2018

March 2018 is expected to bring the major changes with the removal of the 457 visa and the introduction of the TSS visa. This NEW visa will be made up of TWO streams: Short [2 years] and Medium term stream [4 years]

The Short-Term stream will include the following criteria:

– Renewal – Capacity for visa renewal onshore once only.
– English language requirements – (IELTS) (or equivalent test) score of 5, with a minimum of 4.5 in each test component.
– Genuine entry – A genuine temporary entrant requirement
– Occupations:
• For non-regional Australia, the STSOL will apply
• For regional Australia, the STSOL will apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers.

The Medium-Term stream will include the following criteria:
Renewal: Capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years.
– Occupations:
• For non-regional Australia – the MLTSSL will apply.
• For regional Australia – the MLTSSL will apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers.
– English language requirements: a requirement of a minimum of IELTS 5 (or equivalent test) in each test component.

Other requirements for both streams will include:

– Work experience: at least two years’ relevant work experience.
– Labour market testing (LMT): LMT will be mandatory, unless an international obligation applies.
– Minimum market salary rate: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the TSMIT [currently $53,900]
– Character: Mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.
– Workforce: A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers.
– Training requirement: a strengthened training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers.

 

3. What’s changing for permanent visas (ENS 186, RSMS 187)

Changes as 19 April 2017:

• Occupation lists that underpin the 186 Direct Entry visa have been significantly reduced from 651 to 435 occupations.
• 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted
• Of the 435 occupations, access to 24 occupations has been restricted to regional Australia (e.g. occupations relating to farming and agriculture)
• SOL changed to MLTSSL [medium and long term strategic skills list] and CSOL list changed to STSOL [short term skilled occupation list]
• All new ENS applications in Direct Entry stream have to nominate occupation from STSOL

What this means for you if:

a) you are a current 186 or 187 visa holder
Your current visa will remain valid. You are not affected by the change

b) you have applied for a visa but have not had it finalized
If you applied for 186 and your occupation is on the STSOL list, you may still be granted a visa.

c) you have not yet applied for a visa

Please refer to the timelines below for more specific information

Changes from July 2017 and until 31 December 2017:
• lists of occupations will be reviewed and further reduction can be expected. STSOL list will be reviewed every 6 months
• English language requirement- IELTS (or equivalent test) with scores 6.0 in each element
• Age requirement- you have to be less than 45 years old to apply for Direct Stream Entry and less than 50 years old for Transitional Stream
• DIBP will begin collecting Tax File Numbers [TFN] for 457 visa holders and data will be matched with Australian Tax Office [ATO] records to make sure sponsored employees are being paid their nominated salary.
• DIBP will begin publishing details of Sponsors who have been sanctioned for failure to meet their Sponsorship Obligations.

Changes from March 2018

• MLTSSL list applies to ENS and RSMS applications, with additional occupations available to support regional employers.
• Minimum market salary rate: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the TSMIT [currently $53,900]
• permanent residency eligibility period extended from two to three years
• Work experience: at least three years’ relevant work experience.
• Age requirement- all applicants must be under 45 years old when applying.
• Training requirement: a strengthened training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers.

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