March 2018 skilled visa changes

March 2018 skilled visa changes

March 2018 skilled visa changes

  • February 23, 2018
  • avisfunklaw

You would no doubt be aware that in April 2017 the government announced a major overhaul to Australia's Skilled Visa programs, which is a pretty big deal to the 120,000 or so people that apply for skilled visas each year. Those changes were to be rolled out in three stages: the first set of changes took place immediately after the announcement in April 2017; the second set in July 2017; and the final set are taking place this month. The exact date for this months changes has not yet been confirmed, but is expected to be any day now.

So what is changing? What does this mean for current 457 holders, and those planning to apply for a work visa in the near future? Getting information at this stage is hard, so here is a handy little guide to the upcoming changes.

01

Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (Subclass 457) –
replaced by the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (Subclass 482) Visa

The existing 457 visa will be replaced by the new TSS visa. Any applications made before the official TSS implementation date will continue to be processed, but new applications will not be accepted.

The overall visa application process will be the same, in that there will still be three stages: sponsorship, then nomination, followed by the actual visa application itself. But, it will be broken down into three streams: short-term, medium-term and labour agreement.

The following table compares the significant differences between the 457 visa to those of the new TSS visa. Please note that it is expected that both the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) (which can be found here) will be expanded to include additional occupations if you will be working in regional Australia, but we don't yet know what those occupations will be.

 457 VISATEMPORARY SKILLS SHORTAGE VISA
STREAMN/AShort-Term StreamMedium-Term StreamLabour Agreement Stream
ELIGIBLE OCCUPATIONSSTSOL or MLTSSLSTSOLMLTSSLN/A
MAXIMUM DURATION4 years2 years, unless an ITO applies4 years4 years or as specified in the agreement
MINIMUM ENGLISH IELTS (OR EQUIVALENT)5 overall + minimum of 4.5 in each category5 overall with minimum of 4.5 in each category5 overall with minimum of 5 in each categoryAs per the agreement
PATHWAY TO PERMANENT RESIDENCYYes, after two yearsNoYes, after three yearsUnspecified
APPLICATION FEES (1 APPLICANT)Starting from: $1,080.00Starting from: $1,150.00Starting from: $2,400.00Starting from: $2,400.00
WORK EXPERIENCENo minimum (unless a caveat applies or as required in ANZSCO)2 years minimum (full time), or longer if required by ANZSCO
LABOUR MARKET TESTINGMandatory (unless an ITO or occupation based exemption applies)Mandatory unless an International Trade Obligation (ITO) applies.
SKILLS ASSESSMENTIf mandatory skills assessment is not provided with the application, it will be formally requestedApplicant must have commenced (but not necessarily completed) any mandatory skills assessment prior to lodging the application.
SALARYBase Rate of Pay must be at least equal to the TSMITAnnual market salary rate (AMSR) excluding any non-monetary benefits must be greater than the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
ONSHORE APPLICATIONSThe primary applicant must hold a substantive visa or must satisfy Schedule 3 criteriaAll onshore applicants must hold a substantive visa or Bridging Visa A, B or C.
Other notable features of the Short-Term Stream

Repeat applications

If a primary visa applicant has previously held two visas under this stream in a row, and their application for their most recent visa was made from within Australia, then they will only be able to apply for a further visa under this stream from outside Australia.

Genuine temporary entrant assessment

If the applicant has held more than two visas under this stream in the last five years, or has been in Australia for four or more years (on any visa), their application may be refused on the grounds that they are not a genuine temporary entrant. However, if an International Trade Obligation applies, then they will be seen as a genuine temporary entrant regardless of their previous visas.

Other notable features of all streams

Training

  • All current 'Training Benchmarks’ and requirements will be discontinued and replaced with a levy (known as the Skilling Australians Fund levy (SAF Levy)).
  • The levy will be payable in full at the time the nomination is lodged (e.g. if an application is made for a four year visa, the levy for all four years will be payable on lodgement).
  • The levy that the employer must pay varies depending on the size of the nominating business, as follows:
    Business SizeFee
    Annual turnover less than $10 million$1,200.00 per year
    Annual turnover more than $10 million$1,800.00 per year

02

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa (Subclass 186) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Visa (Subclass 187)

But it's not all about the 457 visa (even though media coverage has made it seem that way); the 186 and 187 visas are changing too. Whilst they may be keeping the same name, they will be undergoing a significant makeover.

Occupations

Currently, both the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) (which can be found here) are available for the 186 visa and almost all ANZSCO skill level 1 to 3 occupations are available for the 187 visa. However once the changes come into effect, only MLTSSL occupations will apply to 186 visas. This will also be the case for the 187 visa, but the MLTSSL is expected to be expanded to include additional occupations for workers in regional Australia.

Salary

Currently, Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) requirements do not apply to permanent visas. However, TSMIT and Annual Market Salary Rate (AMSR) requirements will now also apply to permanent visas. This means that employers will need to demonstrate that the nominees Guaranteed Annual Earnings are greater than the AMSR. The AMSR excluding any non-monetary benefits must also be greater than the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold.

Work experience

A minimum of three years work experience will be required in the nominated occupation or a related field (or longer if required by ANZSCO). Generally, this experience must have been undertaken on a full-time basis in the last 5 years.

Age

The maximum age for visa applicants applying under the Temporary Residence Transition stream will be lowered from 50 years of age to 45.

Skills assessment

Currently, visa applicants applying under the Temporary Residence Transition stream do not need to provide a skills assessment. However, once the new changes are introduced the Department will have a new discretionary power to reassess skills and genuineness of applicants applying under any stream.

Training

  • All current 'Training Benchmarks’ and requirements will be discontinued and replaced with a levy (known as the Skilling Australians Fund levy (SAF Levy)).
  • The levy will be payable in full at the time the nomination is lodged.
  • The levy that the employer must pay varies depending on the size of the nominating business, as follows:
    Business SizeFee
    Annual turnover less than $10 million$3,000.00 one off
    Annual turnover more than $10 million$5,000.00 one off

Immigrating to Australia is a minefield of complex technical issues and unknown government policies, and skilled work visas are no exception.

We recommend obtaining expert advice and guidance from a specialist lawyer to ensure that your visa application is approved. With new changes that are about to be put in place in March 2018, the process just got a whole lot more complicated.

To learn more about skilled visas and how the upcoming changes affect you, get in touch with our immigration lawyer and registered migration agent, Larissa Funk.