November 2019 Visa Changes - New Skilled Visas 491, 494 and 191

New Skilled Regional Visas - Subclasses 491, 494 and 191

 Commencing 16th November 2019

Point Test Changes

·        15 points - for nomination by a State or Territory government agency or sponsorship by a family member residing in regional Australia, to live and work in regional Australia;

·        10 points - for a skilled spouse or de facto partner 10 points for certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) qualifications

·        5 points - for a spouse or de facto partner with ‘competent English’

·        10 points - for applicants without a spouse or de facto partner

 

Invitations for points tested visas Invitations will be ranked in the following order:

·        First – primary applicants with a skilled spouse or de facto partner

·        Equal First – primary applicants without a spouse or de facto partner

·        Second - Primary applicants with a spouse or de facto partner who can demonstrate competent English, but does not have the skills for skilled partner points (age and skills)

·        Third - Primary applicants with a partner who is ineligible for either competent English or Skilled partner points. These applicants will be ranked below all other cohorts, if all other points claims are equal

 

Transitional Arrangements for

Current Subclass 489 holders and applicants with lodged Subclass 187 applications

·        Current Subclass 489 visa holders will continue to have access to the Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa

 ·        Applications for first Subclass 489 may be made before 16 November 2019

 ·        Applications for second Subclass 489 visas may continue to be made on and after 16 November 2019

 ·        Subclass 187 RSMS applications lodged before 16 November 2019 will not be impacted by these changes

 ·        Amended Schedule 6D points test will apply to new applicants for the Subclass 491 and applicants for Subclasses 189, 190 and 489 who are yet to be assessed

 ·        The points test will operate beneficially and no applicant will be adversely affected by this amendment

 Transitional Subclass 457 visa holders

·        Holders of Subclass 457 visas on 18 April 2017, or applicants for a Subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017 that was subsequently granted, are exempt from the closure on 16 November 2019 of the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Subclass 187 RSMS visa

 Transitional Subclass 482 visa holders

·        Holders of Subclass 482 visas in the medium-term stream on 20 March 2019 or applicants for a Subclass 482 visa in the medium-term stream on 20 March 2019, that was subsequently granted, are exempt from the closure on 16 November 2019 of the Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Subclass 187 RSMS visa.

 

New Skilled Regional Visas - features

Designated Regional Areas

·        At commencement of the new regional visas, it is intended that any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth will be designated as a regional area

 ·        Regional visa holders may live in any designated regional area and can move between designated regional areas

 

Restricted from applying for other visas

Holders of Subclass 491 and Subclass 494 visas or who last held these visas, are restricted from applying for the following visas, unless they have completed at least three (3) years in a designated regional area, unless exceptional circumstances exist:

·        Subclass 124/858 - Distinguished Talent

·        Subclass 132 - Business Talent

·        Subclass 186 - Employer Nomination Scheme

·        Subclass 188 - Business Innovation and Investment Subclass 189 - Skilled - Independent Subclass 190 - Skilled - Nominated Subclass 820 - Partner (Temporary)

Subclass 491 - Skilled Regional (Provisional)

 ·        Two streams - State/Territory sponsored and family member residing in designated area sponsored

 State/Territory sponsored stream

 ·        Must be nominated by State/Territory Government Review rights for refusal to grant this visa to an offshore applicant will extend to State/Territory authorities under Part 5 - reviewable decisions

 Family member sponsored stream

 ·        Must be sponsored by a family member who is over 18 and is an Australian Citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen

·        Sponsor must be usually resident in a designated regional area

·        Sponsor must be related to the primary applicant or their spouse or de facto partner

·        Family member is defined as parent, child or step-child, brother, sister, adoptive brother, adoptive sister, step‑brother or step‑sister; or an aunt, uncle, adoptive aunt, adoptive uncle, step‑aunt or step‑uncle; or a nephew, niece, adoptive nephew, adoptive niece, step‑nephew or step‑niece; or a grandparent; or a first cousin.

·        Obligation to assist visa holder to the extent necessary, financially, with accommodation and to participate in AMEP English language program for 2 years

 

Applicant requirements

·        Schedule 6D points test applies Must have been invited to apply

·        Must not have turned 45 at time of application

·        Must have skilled occupation on an applicable list and have a valid, suitable skills assessment

·        Primary applicant must have competent English at time of application

·        Must declare genuine intention to live, work and study in designated regional area

·        Health PIC 4005 and character PIC apply to all primary applicants and members of family unit, whether applicants or not

·        May apply and be granted inside or outside Australia, but not in immigration clearance

·        Must be holder of substantive visa or BVA, BVB or BVC to apply onshore Temporary visa - five years validity

·        Conditions 8578, 8579, 8580 and 8581 must be imposed

·        VAC - Base application charge: primary applicant $3,755; additional applicant over 18 years: $1,875; under 18 years: $940

·        Second VAC instalment if required - Less than functional English over 18 years: $4,890; any other applicant: nil

·        Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders or past holders, may apply for a Subclass 491 visa, subject to meeting prescribed requirements.

 

Subclass 494 - Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)

·        Two streams - Employer sponsored stream and labour agreement stream

 

Employer requirements

Nomination, application processes and sponsorship obligations largely mirror those applicable to Subclasses 457 and 482 sponsorship

·        Position must be genuine, full time and likely to exist for five years Annual market salary rate (AMSR) must not be less than TSMIT $53,900; annual earnings including non-monetary benefits must not be less than AMSR, unless nominated under the Labour Agreement stream; and terms and conditions no less favourable than for Australian employees must be provided

·        Minister must be advised by a 'body' (RDA/RCB?) with the responsibility for that part of Australia, that the nominee will be paid at least the AMSR

·        SAF charges: $3000 for businesses with turnover of less than $10 million, or $5000 for others

·        Cost of fees and nomination training contribution charge (SAF levy) cannot be recovered from the overseas worker or third party - amendment to Reg 2.87S

·        If nominating an existing Subclass 494 visa holder, the new sponsor is expected to assume the sponsorship obligations for family members who already hold a Subclass 494

·        Subclass 494 visa holders will be provided with 90 days to find another employer, if they cease employment with their sponsor

·        Visa can be cancelled if sponsor provides false and misleading information, fails to meet sponsorship obligations, is cancelled or barred from being a sponsor or where a party to a labour agreement, it is terminated, suspended or ceased

 

Applicant requirements

·        Must not have turned 45 at time of application

·        Employer sponsored stream - must have skilled occupation on an applicable list and have valid, suitable skills assessment; Labour agreement stream - may be required to demonstrate has necessary skills to perform tasks of nominated occupation

·        Nominated occupation to be specified by corresponding 6-digit ANZSCO code

·        Must have been employed in the nominated occupation for at least three years on a full-time basis and at level of skill required for the occupation; Labour agreement stream - unless Minister considers it reasonable not to require this

·        Employer sponsored stream - applicant must have competent English at time of application, unless specified in a legislative instrument by the Minister; Labour agreement stream - English language skills suitable to perform the nominated occupation

·        Employer sponsored stream - health PIC 4007; Labour agreement stream health PIC 4005

·        Character PIC apply to all primary applicants and members of family unit whether applicants or not

·        May apply and be granted inside or outside Australia, but not in immigration clearance

·        Must be holder of substantive visa or BVA, BVB or BVC to apply onshore

·        Temporary visa - five years validity

·        Conditions 8503 and 8534 may be waived where that visa holder has a genuine intention to apply for a Subclass 494 visa

·        Conditions 8578, 8579, 8580, 8581 and new Condition 8608 must be imposed

·        Visa can be cancelled if the visa holder did not have a genuine intention at the time of grant to perform the nominated occupation or ceased to have a genuine intention to perform that occupation or the position was not genuine

·        VAC - Base application charge: primary applicant $3,755, additional applicant over 18 years: $1,875, under 18 years: $940 (*Minister of Religion or member of their family unit VAC: nil)

·        Second VAC instalment if required - Primary applicant less than functional English over 18 years: $9,800; secondary applicants over 18 years $4,890; any other applicant: nil

·        Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders or past holders, may apply for a Subclass 494 visa, subject to meeting prescribed requirements

 

Subclass 191 - Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa

·        Only Subclasses 491 and 494 visa holders are eligible to apply for this visa Must have held the Subclass 491 or 494 for at least three years and substantially complied with the conditions of the visa and Condition 8579

·        Must have met a minimum threshold taxable income level for at least three years while holding the Subclass 491 or 494 (threshold to be specified by legislative instrument)

·        Dependent children included as members of family unit for the Subclass 491 or 494 visas, may be included in Subclass 191 application, even if no longer able to meet the definition of dependency

·        Health PIC 4007 and character PIC apply to all primary applicants and members of family unit, whether applicants or not May apply and be granted inside or outside Australia, but not in immigration clearance

·        VAC - Base application charge: primary applicant $385; additional applicant over 18 years: $195, under 18 years: $100

·        Permanent visa allowing holder to travel to and enter Australia for a period of 5 years from grant date

 

New Schedule 8 Conditions Condition 8578

·        Notify Department within 14 days of changes to visa holder's residential address, contact details, passport details, employer address, location of position

Condition 8579

·        Requires applicant to live, work and study (where relevant) in designated regional area

·        Permits visa holder to move between designated regional areas

·        Prevents visa holder from accessing any other skilled migration visa for at least three years

·        Cancellation provisions may apply if not compliant with Condition 8579

 Condition 8580

·        Requires within 28 days, if requested in writing by the Minister, the visa holder's residential address, address of employer, address of location of position employed in, address of any educational institution attended by visa holder

Condition 8581

·        Requires visa holder, if requested in writing by the Minister to attend an interview which may be undertaken face to face or by video conferencing applications

 Condition 8608

·        The holder must work only in the nominated occupation identified in the application for the most recent Subclass 494 visa granted to the holder, must only work in position in nominating business or associated entity, unless occupation specified by the Minister or to fulfill a legal requirement after giving notice; commence work within 90 days of arriving in Australia; not cease work employment for more than 90 days; continue to hold license or registration                    

Partner Visa Law Changes

The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 was passed on the 28th November 2018 and is awaiting Royal Assent.

Important Update: Home affairs has stated that these new changes are NOT coming into effect on 16 November 2019.

That new law after it receives royal ascent, paves the way for regulations to require, amongst other things, a prior approval of a Sponsor BEFORE a valid application is lodged.

So, if you are planning on lodging a Partner visa any time soon, you should lodge it immediately and do not delay! Otherwise, onshore applicants could end up being subject to Schedule 3 criteria, which if not met, could result in a refusal of your Partner visa application.

The proposed changes will have the following affects:

• separation of the sponsorship assessment from the visa application process

• requiring the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made

• imposing statutory obligations on persons who are or were approved as family sponsors and provide for enforceable sanctions if such obligations are not satisfied

• allowing the Minister to refuse a sponsorship application and cancel and/or bar a family sponsor where inappropriate use of the program or serious offences are detected, especially those involving violence and

• improvement of the sharing of personal information between parties to the application and the program more generally. 

Source:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5688

New Subclass 457 visa changes with Questions and Answers

I recently received a copy of one of the guidance newsletters related to the recent changes to the Subclass 457 program, this newsletter was issued directly to Australian Registered Migration Agents by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection  to assist us with our client’s enquiries.

Though the clarification notes don’t answer all of client's questions, they certainly help to a degree and so I'm publishing the clarification notes below. I hope that you’ll find these questions and answers useful!

If you need advice about how these changes affect your individual situation, please contact us or phone us for a consultation on: +61 4 977 888 91.

19 April 2017 changes:

Q1. What has already changed?

A. As of 19 April 2017:

• the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) has been replaced with the new Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL);
• the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) has been replaced with the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL);
• there has been a reduction of 216 occupations available for subclass 457 visa programme applications;
• 59 caveats now apply to specified occupations – these either relate to work experience, regional location or are occupation specific; and
• new visa validity periods also apply under the standard subclass 457 programme with a maximum 2 year period available for occupations that are eligible for the subclass 457 programme but not on the new MLTSSL.

Q2. Can people still apply for subclass 457 visas?

A. Yes. The subclass 457 programme remains open until the new TSS visa comes into effect in March 2018. The occupation list has been restricted (19 April 2017) and integrity settings will be further tightened.

Q3. Where can I find a list of removed occupations?

A. This is available on the Department’s website or on the getting down under website here.

Q4. Why were occupations removed?

A. They were removed due to a wide range of factors including: immigration integrity concerns, low usage over the last five years, being reserved for Australian citizens (e.g. magistrate) and based on advice from the Department of Employment.

Q5. Where can I find information about the caveats?

A. This is available on the Department’s website. Agents have also been provided with interim guidelines on these caveats until the 457 Nominations Procedural Instructions (PI) are updated for 1 July 2017. We will continue to expand this advice in the future based on feedback from agents and staff. Note: Additional FAQs specifically on caveats is also provided below.

Q6. Do the above changes have any impacts on existing subclass 457 visa holders?

A. No – unless they wish to change employers or positions, in which case a new nomination will need to be approved under the new arrangements. Note:

• This will include situations where due to business structure changes, an employer is required to lodge a new sponsorship application and is required to lodge new nomination applications to accommodate existing subclass 457 visa holders (unless they continue to work for an associated entity of an Australian sponsor).
• A new nomination approval for an occupation listed on the STSOL will not result in a reduction of the visa period already held by the visa holder.

Q7. My client has a pending application where the occupation has been removed from the list – what happens now?

A. Once the application has reached the assessment stage, you will be contacted by the Department and given the opportunity to withdraw your application in writing. The letter will specify a period for required response (i.e. 14 days for nomination applications and 28 days for visa applications).

Alternatively, you can request a withdrawal in writing at any time and your client will then be entitled to a refund of the application fee. If you do not withdraw your application, it will be refused. Note: • If seeking to withdraw a visa application, we ask that you complete and attach Form 1446 to ImmiAccount where possible to facilitate faster processing.

• If seeking to withdraw a nomination application, we ask that you attach a written request to this effect to ImmiAccount where possible to facilitate faster processing.
• Once a withdrawal has been actioned, the process to facilitate a refund will be initiated. Applications which do not meet the requirements and are not withdrawn within the prescribed timeframes will be refused. No refund will be provided in such circumstances.

Q8. What about situations where my client has a pending application but a caveat now applies?

A. Once the application has reached the assessment stage, an officer will assess whether or not the caveat applies. If it does, the same withdrawal and refund options as noted above (Q7) will be made available to the client – as the occupation is no longer ‘on the list’ in the circumstances specified.

Note: where a caveat may apply, but the nomination has already been approved and it is only the visa application that is outstanding, the Department will assess caveats for visa applicants based on information already available on Departmental systems. We will not seek further information if there is no clear indication that a caveat applies.

Q9. Can I get a refund for an approved nomination if a related visa application now cannot be approved?

A. Yes, if, a subclass 457 visa application is unable to be granted where the approved nomination is for an occupation that has been removed from the list, the sponsoring business can request that the nomination be withdrawn and request a refund of the nomination fee. Note:

• If seeking to withdraw your approved nomination, we ask that you utilise Form 1446 where possible to facilitate faster processing. The completed form should be emailed through to 457@border.gov.au.
• Once a withdrawal has been actioned, the process to facilitate a refund will be initiated. 457 agent news May 2017 | 3

Q10. Can I get a refund of my sponsorship fee if my sponsorship application has been lodged and/or approved but I no longer wish to use the subclass 457 programme due to the changes in occupation lists?

A. No – a refund is not available under the legislative framework.

Q11. Can I change the nominated occupation?

A. No – but you can withdraw and lodge a new nomination with a new occupation specified for the nominee. This may, however, raise concerns about the genuineness of the position – particularly if the new occupation is substantially different.

Q12. Can I change the nominated base salary for a position post lodgement of the nomination?

A. Yes – you can provide updated information to the Department via ImmiAccount, but you must also provide an updated contract of employment reflecting the new salary rate. This may, however, raise concerns about the genuineness of the position and whether the local labour market has been effectively tested.

Q13. What is the impact of 19 April 2017 changes on the subsequent dependant applications?

A. Nil – if the primary visa application has been granted, then subsequent dependant applicants can still be granted for the same period as the primary (subject to any 457 MOFU extension restrictions).

Q14. Do the changes impact cases that have a review application pending?

A. Yes – the AAT must make a decision based on the current framework – i.e. they are required to take into account recent occupation removals and caveats.

Q15. Will the reforms affect visa processing times?

A. Processing times are expected to slow down in the short term as staff become familiar with the new arrangements. Additional concurrent measures are, however, being considered for 1 July 2017 to streamline processing for lower risk sponsors – including possible further expansion of 457 accredited sponsor arrangements.

Q16. What are caveats?

A. Occupational caveats are additional requirements for certain occupations to demonstrate that the position you have nominated is appropriate for a skilled visa programme. Caveats do not prevent lodgement of all applications for that particular occupation. They limit use of the occupation in certain circumstances. These caveats will be subject to regular review and may be added, altered or removed in future.

Q17. Where the caveat requires a business to have a turnover of at least $1M, what is the period in which $1M turnover is considered?

A. From 1 July 2017, the subclass 457 nomination form will collect information regarding the turnover of the business for the last financial year, which will be used to determine whether or not this caveat applies. Up until this time, the Department will use existing information available on our systems if they indicate that this element of a caveat is met.

Where such information is not available in Departmental systems, additional information will be sought from the sponsoring company. If this occurs, it is recommended that agents provide financial information to cover the last financial year. Independently verifiable information should be provided where possible.

Q18. Can the $1M include turnover from related entities?

A. No – this relates to the sponsoring business only.

Q19. Can the $1M turnover figure include GST?

A. No.

Q20. Will occupational caveats apply to businesses that have traded for less than 12 months? If so, will projected turnover suffice where relevant?

A. Yes – they apply. In general, projected turnover will not suffice. As above, the turnover needs to be at least $1M for the last financial year. However, the Department will consider exceptional circumstances on a case by case basis.

Q21. Where the caveat requires a business to have a minimum of five employees, are there any restrictions on the type of employee (e.g. do they have to be full time, Australian)?

A. No – not at this stage. If the business declares that they have five employees and this is consistent with other information provided (e.g. structure chart for business etc.), then this will be accepted unless the Department has concerns that this is not the case. From 1 July 2017, the subclass 457 nomination form will ask companies to declare their total number of employees and how many are Australian/overseas workers, as per the current subclass 457 sponsorship form.

Q22. Where the caveats require at least two years of work experience, what does this mean?

A. This means that a successful candidate for the nominated position would be expected to have completed at least two years full time (as per the industry standard) work experience in the relevant occupation post qualification. The Department recognises that work experience may take different forms for different occupations. For example, relevant experience for a University lecturer could include conducting research in a particular field of knowledge and/or teaching experience. Additional permanent visa questions

Q23. Is the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme impacted by the 19 April 2017 changes?

A. No – this is because you can nominate any occupation that is ANZSCO skill level 1 to 3 for this programme (i.e. you are not restricted to the MLTSSL and the STSOL at this stage).

Q24. How do the above changes impact other permanent visa programmes?

A. The above changes do not impact on hand (‘pipeline’) applications for other skilled permanent visa programmes. The removal of occupations from the list will, however, impact clients who lodge an application for one of the following on or after 19 April 2017:

• Employer Nominated Scheme (subclass 186) – Direct Entry Stream
• Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) • Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) That is, any applications already lodged before 19 April 2017 for the above visa subclasses (other than a 457 visa) will not be impacted (even if the occupation was removed for these visas on 19 April 2017).

Q25. Do the caveats impact permanent visa applications?

A. No – the new caveats only impact subclass 457 applications. Caveats existing prior to 19 April 2017 that impacted other visas remain unchanged.

Q26. Can you still apply for ENS if your occupation is on the STSOL but not the MTSSL?

A. Yes – currently, if your occupation is on the STSOL or an eligible occupation on the MLTSSL you can apply for the ENS Direct Entry stream. Current holders of subclass 457 visas continue to be eligible to apply for permanent residency through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the ENS visa. Access to the TRT stream is not based on the occupation lists and is therefore unaffected by these changes. Other temporary visa questions

Q27. Do the above changes impact on hand (‘pipeline’) applications for other temporary visa programmes that utilise the MLTSSL and/or the STSOL?

A. The above changes do not impact on hand (‘pipeline’) applications for other temporary visa programmes that utilise the MLTSSL and/or the STSOL. The removal of occupations from the list will, however, impact clients who lodge an application on or after 19 April 2017 for the Training visa (subclass 407).

1 July 2017 changes:

Q28. What reforms are being implemented on 1 July 2017?

A. Key reforms that will be implemented from July 2017 for subclass 457 visas include:
• expanding mandatory skills assessments;
• introducing mandatory penal clearance checks consistent with other visas;
• tightening existing training benchmarks; and
• removing English language exemptions based on a skilled migrant’s salary (e.g. if their salary is higher than $96,400).

Q29. Will there be further changes to the occupation lists for 1 July 2017?

A. Yes – it is expected that the occupation lists will be regularly updated, based on a range of factors including advice from the Department of Employment and the Department of Education and Training.

Q30. Why are mandatory skills assessment requirements being expanded?

A. The skills assessment requirements are being considered for expansion to cover a small number of new cohorts of concern. For example, where particular combinations of occupation and nationality have been identified as an integrity risk.

Q31. What nationalities/occupations will be impacted?

A. A final decision has not been made in this space. Registered migration agents will be informed of the specific changes proposed via an agents newsletter prior to 1 July 2017.

Q32. What changes are being made to character requirements and why?

A. As of 1 July 2017, all subclass 457 applicants aged 17 years or older will be required to provide penal clearance certificates for countries in which they have lived for a significant period. This measure will strengthen current character and integrity measures and will bring subclass 457 visas into line with other longer stay temporary visa products.

Q33. What changes are being made to the training benchmarks?

A, Policy settings for training benchmark requirements are being clarified and tightened, by setting out:

• the types of training funds eligible for training benchmark A; and
• setting out the types of expenditure on training that are acceptable for training benchmark B.

The Department also intends to provide agents with additional guidelines around documentation required to demonstrate that an applicant has met the relevant training benchmarks via a later edition of this newsletter. Additional permanent visa questions

Q34. What reforms will be implemented on 1 July 2017 for ENS and RSMS?

A. On 1 July 2017, the additional changes below will be implemented for ENS and RSMS:

• raising English language requirements to “competent” for all applicants (IELTS 6) – with TRT and Direct Entry requirements to be consistent;
• upper age limit of 45 for Direct Entry applicants;
• 3 years skill and experience for Direct Entry applicants; and
• further changes to the occupations lists and their application to relevant visas. Note: This above looks like an error in that the RSMS (direct entry) change that 3 years work experience is needed is scheduled for March 2018. We are trying to confirm this March 2018 changes

Q35. What is the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa?

A. The new TSS visa will replace the 457 visa. It will have two distinct streams: a Short-term stream of up to two years and a Medium-term stream of up to four years.

Q36. How much will the TSS visa cost?

A. There will be different Visa Application Charges (VAC) for the TSS visa. The base VAC for:

• the Short-term stream is $1150; and
• the Medium-term stream is $2400.

Q37. What are the changes to the English language requirements?

A. The English requirements for the Short-term stream of the new TSS visa will be the same as the current 457 visa, with a minimum IELTS result (or equivalent) of 4.5 in each test component required, and an overall score of 5. There will be a higher standard required for the
Medium-term stream with a score of 5 required in each test component.

Q38. Will holders of the TSS visa have a pathway to become Australian permanent residents?

A. Yes – under the Medium-term stream only.

Q39. Will the Temporary Income Skilled Migration Threshold (TSMIT) be indexed?

A. No – in considering options for the abolition of the subclass 457 visa and its replacement with a new TSS visa, the Government decided not to index the TSMIT at this time.

Q40. What will change in terms of labour market testing?

A. Labour market testing will be a mandatory requirement for the TSS visa, unless international trade obligations apply.

Q41. How will the TSS visa require employers to assist with training Australian workers?

A. The TSS visa will require employers nominating skilled overseas workers to contribute to training Australian workers. Details of the revised training requirement will be provided in a subsequent edition of this newsletter. Additional permanent visa questions

Q42. What reforms will be implemented for ENS and RSMS in March 2018?

A. From March 2018, new eligibility criteria for ENS and RSMS will include:

• an upper age limit of 45 (from 50) for most applicants;
• occupation must be on the MLTSSL (unless an additional occupation approved for regional areas); • a minimum market rate salary: all visa holders must earn at least a minimum salary of $53,900 – that is the TSMIT;
• at least three years’ relevant work experience; and
• a pathway to permanent residence through TRT requires 3 years on Medium-term TSS visa. More information will be provided about these changes to registered migration agents closer to 2018.

Q43. What transitional or ‘grandfathering’ arrangements will be in place for those who already hold a subclass 457 visa before March 2018?

A. More information concerning the legislative details of future changes will be available closer to their implementation date. This will include information about transitional arrangements for visa applicants and visa holders.

Labour agreements

Q. Do these changes have any impact on labour agreements?

A. No – the subclass 457 visa abolition and replacement changes have no immediate impact on the labour agreement programme with:

• existing labour agreements remaining in effect;
• existing visa holders not impacted unless they apply for another visa impacted by the changes outside of the labour agreement programme; or
• new nominations that labour agreement sponsors intend to lodge and related visa applications are not impacted – including applications for occupations which are specified in the relevant labour agreement, but have were ‘removed’ from the standard programme on 19 April 2017.

The Department will amend all existing labour agreements at some time prior to March 2018 to reflect the abolition of the subclass 457 visa – with no further applications for subclass 457s accepted after the introduction of the TSS visa in March 2018.

Q. Will the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) remain in place?

A. The DAMA with the Northern Territory will remain in place.

Q. Has anything else changed in the labour agreement programme?

A.The Department continues to review labour agreement arrangements to ensure that:

• they reflect current economic and employment conditions
• the local labour market is not undercut
• Australian workers are given priority.

If you need advice about how these changes affect your individual situation, please contact us or phone us for a consultation on: +61 4 977 888 91.

This post was written by an Australian Registered Migration Agent - Adam Ward (MARN 1679623).

Summary of the new Subclass 457, 186 and 187 visa changes

Here is a summary of the new 457 Temporary Skilled visa, 186 ENS visa and 187 RSMS visa changes that are being introduced in stages and what they mean for you:

 Any 457 sponsorship, nomination or visa applications that have occupations that are NOT listed in either the STSOL or MLTSSL Occupation List and NOT decided by 18th April 2017 will no longer be able to be approved. Refund of DIBP application fees may be available upon withdrawal of your visa or nomination application.

 Any new 457 applications lodged from 19 April 2017 onwards will have to have their occupation on the STSOL or MLTSSL occupation lists.

 If you are granted a Subclass 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the STSOL list, it can only be granted for 2 years. There will be one (only) further extension allowed after that for another 2 years. You will not be allowed to apply for a permanent Subclass 186 ENS visa or a Subclass 187 RSMS visa under that occupation if it is on the STSOL.

 If you are granted a 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the MLTSSL list, it can be granted for 4 years. You will be able to be apply for a permanent 186/187 visa after  a period of at least 3 years on a 457 visa, if that company agrees to nominate you.

 From March 2018 the new TSS visa will have replaced the 457 visa. You will need to have at least 2 years work experience before applying and your occupation will have to be on the STSOL or MLTSSL lists. If you are on the STSOL list you will also have to show you only want to stay in Australia temporarily.

 From March 2018 you need to have your occupation on the MLTSSL occupation list to apply for company/employer sponsored permanent residence. You will also need to commit to working for the company for 3 years, have an IELTS of 6+ (or equivalent) and be under 45 years of age.

Some consequences of this:

1. Occupations such as cook and restaurant manager are on the STSOL list. While you can still be sponsored for 2 years by a restaurant on the Subclass 457 visa and gain another 2 year extension, you can no longer apply for a permanent visa unless it is added to the MLTSSL list for you being in a designated regional area.

2. Retail manager is still available in regional areas for the 187 visa at the moment. But from March 2018 this will not be the case, as this occupation is not on the MLTSSL list.

3. Most student graduates will not be eligible for temporary or permanent company sponsorship after March 2018 as you require at least 2 years FULL-TIME WORK EXPERIENCE first.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration confirmed that existing 457 visa holders (as of 18 April 2017) will still be able to apply for a Permanent visa and will not be affected by these changes. (See News.com.au article: http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-457-visa-changes/news-story/3894724396a5c7f99491c961ae9b8088)

Timeline of future 457 changes are:

from 19 April 2017 - 216 occupations removed and 59 others restricted, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed, validity period for occupations on STSOL 2 years.

from 01 July 2017 - English salary exemption $96,400 to be removed, training benchmarks to be changed, mandatory penal clearance certificates.

before 31 December 2017 - collection of Tax-file Numbers (TFN) for Subclass 457 visa holders for Australian Tax Office (ATO) data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

from March 2018 - the current Subclass 457 visa will  be abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term stream (2 years) and Medium-Term stream (4 years).

Timeline of future 186 ENS/187 RSMS changes are:

from 19 April 2017 - CSOL condensed, 216 occupations removed, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed as STSOL and MLTSSL.

from 01 July 2017 - review of STSOL and MLTSSL, a work commitment of 3 years, IELTS 6+ required in each component, changes in age (Direct Entry - DE stream 45 years old, no change to Temporary Residence Transition - TRT stream).

*Please note that the work commitment of 3 years, the requirement to have an IELTS of 6+ and the requirement to be under 45 years of age will apply from 1 July 2017 not March 2018. 

before 31 December 2017 - collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

from March 2018 - the MLTSSL will apply to Subclass 186 ENS and Subclass 187 RSMS visas with additional regional occupations, Market salary rate will apply and meet TSMIT, eligibility period for Permanent Residency (PR) extended from 2 to 3 years, contribution towards training fund.

If you would like to discuss your individual situation or you would like to know how the new changes affect you please contact us, or phone: +61 4 977 888 91.