How the March visa changes have impacted 457 visa holdersThe 18th of March 2018 marks the much anticipated end of the 20-year-old temporary skilled visa program (subclass 457) and the commencement of its replacement – the new Temporary Skill Shortage visa (TSS) subclass 482. The working and skilled visas (such as the 457, 186 and 187 visa) provided a pathway to obtain permanent residency however, the March changes have added some new complexities. The government says the Temporary Skill Shortage visa will support businesses in addressing ‘genuine skill shortages in their workforce’ and includes a number of stringent requirements to prioritise Australian workers. The TSS visa will have 3 streams, namely the short-term and medium-term and the Labour Agreement Stream. Results Migration, have helped us summarise the changes below.
Two new skilled occupations listsThe first list is the “Short Term Skilled Occupations List” (STSOL) and will replace the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL). The second is the “Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List” (MLTSSL), which will replace the Skilled Occupations List (SOL). Depending on the occupation, there may be caveats that require additional criteria in order to actually be applicable for the visa.
Short Term StreamThe short-term stream has been designed for Australian businesses or employers to temporarily fill skill gaps. The short-term visa is valid for two years and can only be renewed once for a further two years. The Short-Term Skill Occupation List (STSOL), will be reassessed every six months and occupations can be removed or added at any time. There is no pathway to Australian permanent residency like there was with the 457 visa but it may be possible to obtain the experience necessary for a direct entry or a points-based visa. An applicant will need to prove that they genuinely intend to stay in Australia temporarily. Additionally, this requirement will be assessed against the applicant’s immigration history, circumstances, compliance with visa conditions and other relevant matters.
Medium Term StreamThe medium-term stream is very similar to the old 457 visa – it lasts four years and Australian permanent residency may be possible for applicants after three years. The medium-term TSS visa is designed for applicants working in skilled occupations that the Government considers ‘high value’ to the economy in the medium to long-term period. Occupations that qualify for this visa are included in the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).
Labour Agreement StreamThere is also a third stream to be used in exceptional circumstances, called the Labour Agreement Stream. To be eligible there must be proof that there is a demonstrated need that cannot otherwise be met by the Australian labour market and there are no other available visas. The English language requirements must be proficient to perform the occupation but do not require formal English testing.
TSS condition 8607The TSS condition 8607 is another major change from the 457, where a visa holder who wants to work in a new occupation, must now obtain a new nomination from a sponsoring employer and apply for a new visa – this will be counted as one of the two onshore TSS visas. Under the old 457, one could just get a new nomination and show you have the required skills for the new occupation.
Differences between the two main streams:
|Duration||2 years||4 years|
|Renewal||Can be renewed onshore only once||Can be renewed onshore|
|Permanent Residency||No pathway to permanent residency||Permanent residency pathway after three years|
|Occupation List||STSOL – can be reviewed every 6 months||MLTSSL – only ‘critical’ or ‘high value’ occupations are considered|
|English Requirements (IELTS or equivalent)||Similar to the 457 visa: Overall score of at least 5 with minimum score of 4.5 in each of the 4 test components||Higher level required than 457 visa: Overall score of at least 5 with a minimum of 5 in each component|
|Exemptions to English Requirements||
|Fees||Primary Applicant $1,150||Primary Applicant – $2,400|
|Employer Nomination Fees||$330|
|Employer Sponsorship Fees||$420|
|Prior Work Experience||Two years work experience in the nominated occupation or related field|
|Age||Maximum age of 45|
|Health Requirement||All applicants must show they do not have any medical conditions which are of public health concern or would result in a significant cost to the Australian community.|
|International Trade Obligations||Labour market testing (LMT)|
|Character Test||Mandatory police check for all applicants from each country lived in for 12 or more months in the past 10 years|
|Adult Children||The visa will be valid until the child’s 23rd birthday|
Changes for SponsorsSponsors will no longer need to show evidence of training Australians in the business to be an approved sponsor, as the introduction of a Training Levy will replace this. A TSS sponsorship will be valid for 5 years if the Standard Business Sponsorship is decided after 18 March 2018.
Changes to Nomination RequirementsThe TSS visa is only available for full time positions and the nomination period must be specified and be exactly 1, 2, 3 or 4 years. The TSS also specifically requires the sponsors to pay the nomination fees.
What if I was on a 457 before 2017?The old rules of the 457 will apply to you. The legislation will include ‘grandfathering’ provisions, which means that these changes will not apply to people who already held a 457 visa or applied for one before 18th April 2017. For these applicants, the occupation requirements are the same, the age will still be 50 years old, rather than the updated requirement of 45 years old and the work experience requirements will not change.
Industries affectedMost industries will be affected by the visa changes to varying extents, as hundreds of job categories have been removed from the list of occupations. Only 268 occupations are available for the short-term visa and 167 for the medium-term stream. Not surprisingly, there are new limitations that have been applied to many other visa occupations. Many affected industries including those in technology, mining and hospitality are actively working to have ‘critical jobs’ reinstated.
Potential employers need to be particularly careful to make sure the relevant occupation is on the STSOL or the MLTSSL and is not subject to a caveat.
What does this really mean?What these changes mean is that visa holders will have to prove themselves over three years if they really want to stay in Australia. It will also force employers to think about whether they have already got someone working for them and contributing to the economy who can fill the role instead. The changes will make it easier for employers to meet training requirements, but it makes it more challenging for applicants with the new work experience requirement, GTE requirements and higher English proficiency.
Visa FeesThe March visa changes also include increased application costs. The TSS cost of sponsorship and nomination will remain the same as the 457 visa ($420 and $330 respectively). However, the application fees for the TSS are much more expensive.
- Primary Applicant – $1,150
- Adult Dependent – $1,150
- Child Dependent – $290
- Primary Applicant – $2,400
- Adult Dependent – $2,400
- Child Dependant – $600