Update (20th April 2017) – Justin Rickard was interviewed by the BBC World News service in London regarding the changes to the 457 and Citizenship rules discussed in this article. Listen to the interview below.

 

The Australian Prime Minister made a shock announcement yesterday that the Immigration department (DIBP) is abolishing the Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa (457 visa) and replacing it with the completely new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

For the sake of expediency and to help current clients concerned with the 457 visa changes, some information here is taken from DIBP public information.

Why Are These Changes Being Made?

According to DIBP and for political purposes I believe “these measures will sharpen the focus of Australia’s employer sponsored skilled migration programmes to ensure they better meet Australia’s skills needs, increase the quality and economic contribution of skilled migrants and address public concerns about the displacement of Australian workers.

Who Is Affected?

Current 457 visa applications and holders, prospective applicants, businesses sponsoring skilled migrants and industry. Existing 457 visas will continue to remain in effect.

457 visa applications that had lodged their application on or before 18 April 2017, and whose application had not yet been decided, with an occupation that has been removed from the STSOL, may be eligible for a refund of their visa application fee. Nominating businesses for these applications may also be eligible for a refund of related fees.

Phase 1: Immediate Changes to Occupation Lists

The first phase of a number of intended changes to the approved occupation list for the subclass 457 programme has already been implemented – with amendments made to the existing legislative instrument that specifies approved occupations for the programme.

As of 19 April 2017, the lists contained in these schedules have been re-named:

  • the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) as the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL); and
  • the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) as the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).

For the subclass 457 a total of 216 occupations have been removed from the list of eligible occupations; and caveats added to 59 other occupations.

Occupation lists are already available on DIBP website. The list of occupations removed from the CSOL is at the end of this article.

Visa Validity Changes

457 visas were generally granted for four years. For subclass 457 visas granted on or after 19 April 2017, under DIBP policy, the maximum four year visa period will, however, only be available where the primary applicant’s occupation is on the MLTSSL.

For all other applicants where their occupation is not on the MLTSSL, a maximum visa period of two years will be available. This includes primary visa applications, lodged, which are still pending a decision on 19 April 2017. Note: Subsequent entrants (i.e. secondary visa applicants) wanting to join a primary subclass 457 visa holder will not be impacted by this new policy. That is, subsequent entrants can still have their subclass 457 visa ‘match’ the visa period of the primary visa holder – even if this is longer than two years (unless member of family unit extension limits apply).

Further Changes and Key Dates

Further changes will occur on 1 July & 31 December 2017 and 1 March 2018.

What Is Changing for 1 July 2017?

Further changes to the subclass 457 programme are planned for 1 July 2017. These include:

  • possible further adjustments to eligible occupation lists;
  • an expansion of client cohorts for whom mandatory skills assessments are required;
  • minor changes to the training benchmarks for subclass 457 sponsors; and
  • subclass 457 programme no longer excluded from standard policy around penal checks – with police certificates required to be provided from countries a visa applicant has lived in as per current policy for other visa subclasses
  • From 1 July 2017 some expect there will be revisions to the occupation lists (DIBP has stated as much already on this point) changes to English language requirements of IELTS (or equivalent test) score of 6.0 in each component and age limit decrease to 45 years old at the time of application for applicants in the 186 (ENS) and 187 (RSMS) Direct Entry stream

Changes by December 2017

Before 31 December 2017, for the existing 457 visa:

  • DIBP will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for 457 visa holders (and other employer sponsored migrants), and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.
  • DIBP will commence the publication of details relating to sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation.

Changes from March 2018 Including Pathway to Permanent Residency

It appears the age requirement of 50 will continue in the Temporary Residence Transition stream for the short-term, however from 1 March 2018 it has been advised that additional changes will be made affecting all ENS and RSMS applications, including:

  • That only the occupations on the MLTSSL will be eligible
  • That an Age limit of 45 years will apply for all applications. This change would have a significant impact on older applicants

The Short-Term stream will include the following criteria:

Renewal:

Capacity for visa renewal onshore once only. – Occupations:

  • For non-regional Australia, the STSOL will apply.
  • For regional Australia, the STSOL will apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers.

English language requirements:

A requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (or equivalent test) score of 5, with a minimum of 4.5 in each test component.

Genuine entry:

A genuine temporary entrant requirement.

The Medium-Term stream will include the following criteria:

Renewal:

Capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years (not 2 as currently exists).

Occupation lists:

  • 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.

Eligibility criteria 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 Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold requirements. 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. The detailed policy settings for several of these requirements will be finalised through the implementation process. Further details on these requirements to inform stakeholders will be available in due course.

Caveats

Understanding the caveats Caveats are included ‘as a note’ in the relevant legislative for 59 occupations now. The listing of caveats is detailed, and involves 3 types of caveats, and seeking professional advice is recommended when nominating one of these occupations. Australian immigrationlawyers.com anticipates publishing further advice on this area as more detailed information is released by DIBP.

Conclusion

The sudden unexpected and shock changes to the occupations list for 457 visas have already started to come into effect immediately – this will likely impact many employers and employees quite significantly.

The new TSS visa is likely to be more restrictive than the current 457 visa – of shorter duration with more restrictive requirements in terms of skill level and labour market testing. Visa applicants and businesses seeking to sponsor staff for temporary visas are advised to look at lodging their applications well before March 2018.

Applicants for permanent employer sponsored visas will also be impacted, but it is not yet clear when these changes will come into effect, though it looks as if it may be March 2018. The main changes are in relation to the amount of work experience required, English requirement and age limit. Applicants who are eligible for permanent employer visas are advised to proceed with lodgement as soon as possible to avoid the changes.

Australian Immigration Lawyers anticipates publishing further advice on this in the coming days and weeks.

The above information is provided by way of general advice and not to be relied on as specific for your individual situation.  Where you are seeking guidance in relation to a specific matter, seeking professional advice is recommended.

Feel free to call our corporate and visa applicant hotline on 0416 212 021, or take a look at our visa packages.

We will assist you with the new TSS VISA requirements and readily find the best path for you visa application.


OccupationANZSCO Code
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker411511
Actor211111
Actors, Dancers and Other Entertainers NEC211199
Aeroplane Pilot231111
Air Traffic Controller231112
Air Transport Professionals NEC231199
Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics)323111
Amusement Centre Manager149111
Antique Dealer142112
Apparel Cutter393211
Archaeologist272414
Archivist224211
Art Director (Film, Television or Stage)212311
Artistic Director212111
Auctioneer611111
Author212211
Bed and Breakfast Operator141911
Betting agency Manager142113
Biochemist234513
Biotechnologist234514
Blacksmith322111
Boarding Kennel or Cattery Operator149911
Broadcast Transmitter Operator399511
Building and Engineering Technicians NEC312999
Business Broker612111
Butcher or Smallgoods Maker351211
Call or Contact Centre Manager149211
Canvas Goods Fabricator393111
Caravan Park and Camping Ground Manager141211
Cinema or Theatre Manager149912
Clinical Coder599915
Clothing Patternmaker393212
Clothing Trades Workers NEC393299
Commissioned Defence Force Officer139111
Commissioned Fire Officer139112
Commissioned Police Officer139113
Communications Operator342312
Community Arts Worker272611
Composer211211
Conservation Officer234311
Construction Estimator312114
Conveyancer599111
Corporate Treasurer221212
Court Bailiff or Sheriff (Aus) / Court Collections Officer (NZ)599212
Deer Farmer121314
Defence Force Member – Other Ranks441111
Defence Force Senior Officer111212
Dental Hygienist411211
Dental Prosthetist411212
Dental Therapist411214
Detective441311
Director of Photography212313
Diver399911
Dog or Horse Racing Official452318
Drama Teacher (Private Tuition)249213
Dressmaker or Tailor393213
Driller712211
Driving Instructor451211
Education Reviewer249112
Electorate Officer224911
Electronic Engineering Draftsperson312411
Electronic Engineering Technician312412
Electroplater322112
Emergency Service Worker441211
Engineering Patternmaker323411
Engraver323311
Entertainer or Variety Artist211113
Environmental Health Officer251311
Exercise Physiologist234915
Film, Television, Radio and Stage Directors NEC212399
Financial Institution Branch Manager149914
Fire Fighter441212
Fire Protection Equipment Technician399918
First Aid Trainer451815
Fisheries Officer311311
Flight Attendant451711
Floor Finisher332111
Flying Instructor231113
Food Technologist234212
Funeral Director451311
Funeral Workers NEC451399
Futures Trader222212
Gallery or Museum Technician399311
Gas or Petroleum Operator399212
Geophysicist234412
Goat Farmer121315
Golfer452412
Graphic Pre-press Trades Worker392211
Gunsmith323312
Helicopter Pilot231114
Historian272411
Homoeopath252212
Horse Trainer361112
Human Resource Adviser223111
Hydrogeologist234413
Hydrographer311415
ICT Support and Test Engineers NEC263299
ICT Support Technicians NEC313199
Importer or Exporter133311
Insurance Investigator599611
Insurance Risk Surveyor599613
Intellectual Property Lawyer271214
Intelligence Officer224411
Interior Decorator399912
Jockey452413
Judge271211
Kennel Hand361115
Leather Goods Maker393112
Legal Executive599112
Liaison Officer224912
Licensed Club Manager141411
Life Scientist (General)234511
Life Scientists NEC234599
Light Technician399513
Magistrate271212
Maintenance Planner312911
Marine Surveyor231215
Marine Transport Professionals NEC231299
Market Research Analyst225112
Master Fisher231211
Mechanical Engineering Draftsperson312511
Media Producer (excluding Video)212112
Metal Casting Trades Worker322114
Metal Polisher322115
Metallurgist234912
Microbiologist234517
Migration Agent (Aus)224913
Mothercraft Nurse411412
Multimedia Designer232413
Music Director211212
Music Professionals NEC211299
Musical Instrument Maker or Repairer399515
Natural and Physical Science Professionals NEC234999
Nurse Researcher254212
Nurseryperson362411
Operating Theatre Technician311214
Optical Dispenser (Aus) / Dispensing Optician (NZ)399913
Optical Mechanic399914
Other Sports Official452323
Painter (Visual Arts)211411
Park Ranger234314
Parole or Probation Officer411714
Pathology Collector (Aus) / Phlebotomist (NZ)311216
Petroleum Engineer233612
Plastics Technician399916
Plumbing Inspector312115
Police Officer441312
Policy Analyst224412
Policy and Planning Manager132411
Potter or ceramic artist211412
Prison Officer442111
Procurement Manager133612
Production Manager (Manufacturing)133512
Public Relations Manager131114
Quarantine Officer311313
Radio Journalist212414
Radio Presenter212113
Railway Station Manager149412
Regional Education Manager134412
Research and Development Manager132511
Retail Buyer639211
Retirement Village Manager141912
Safety Inspector312611
Sail Maker393113
Sales Representative (Industrial Products)225411
Sales Representative (Medical and Pharmaceutical Products)225412
Saw Maker and Repairer323315
School Laboratory Technician311414
Screen Printer392112
Sculpter211413
Senior Non-commissioned Defence Force Member139211
Shearer361211
Shoemaker393114
Singer211214
Small Offset Printer392312
Sports Administrator139915
Sports Umpire452322
Stock and Station Agent611112
Surveying or Spatial Science Technician312116
Technicians and Trades Workers NEC399999
Telecommunications Cable Jointer342412
Telecommunications Technician342414
Television Equipment Operator399517
Television Presenter212114
Training and Development Professional223311
Translator272413
Travel Agency Manager142116
Travel Attendants NEC451799
Tribunal Member271213
Turf Grower121218
Vehicle Painter324311
Vocational Education Teacher (Non-Trades)242211
Vocational Education Teacher (Trades)242211
Web Developer261212
Wholesaler133312
Wood Turner394214
Wool Buyer639212
Wool Classer399917
Workplace Relations Advisor223113
Zookeeper361114