It’s certainly been an eventful year in the world of migration and there is no sign of this slowing down.
The end of the financial year brought a heap of new changes. This latest lot comes just two months after the Government’s shock announcement that the 457 visa program is being overhauled.
So, what’s changed and how does it impact you? Let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here’s a summary of the July 1 visa changes.
July 1 List Changes
First and foremost, prepare to be confused. Very confused. We’ll do our best to make this as clear as possible, but please bear with us.
When the 457 program was shaken up in April this year, two new lists were introduced; the Medium to Long Term Skills Shortage List (MLTSSL) and the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).
Nominating an occupation on the MLTSSL gives a visa applicant a maximum of four years on a 457 visa, with a permanent residency pathway after three years.
A STSOL occupation gives an applicant a maximum of two years on a 457 visa that can then be renewed for a further two years. The applicant can depart Australia and apply for a future two years whilst offshore, provided their sponsor can show an ongoing and genuine need for the position. There is no pathway to permanent residency through the 457 visa program for any STSOL occupations.
Employer Sponsored visas
Firstly, the good news – the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187) list is NOT impacted by these changes. You can review the occupation list here.
I know, it’s a minefield!
The 187 list will change in March 2018, so if you are eligible to apply for a 187 Direct Entry visa, now is your time.
ENS 186 and 457
Occupations eligible for the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) Direct Entry and the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) are shared, but are separated into the MLTSSL and the STSOL.
Several occupations were added, removed and moved between these lists on 1 July.
The following occupations are now no longer available on any list (except the 187 RSMS list). Nine of these were previously available for 457 applications.
- Ship’s Engineer
- Ship’s Master
- Ship’s Officer
- Equipment Hire Manager
- Fleet Manager
- Picture Framer
- Property Manager
- Real Estate Principal
- Real Estate Agent
- Real Estate Agent Representative
- University Tutor
If your occupation has been removed and your 457 visa application is still being processed, it cannot be approved. You could contact Immigration to withdraw the application and receive a refund. Alternatively, you could leave your application pending, in case your occupation comes back onto the list. If your (removed) occupation is closely related to an occupation still on the list, you may be able to apply for a new nomination, provided your sponsor can show the genuineness of this new nomination.
If you already hold a 457 visa, you will not be impacted, but you will not be able to transfer your 457 visa to a new employer (unless you are nominated in a related occupation that is still on the 457 list).
Caveats now apply to some ENS 186 Direct Entry occupations. Caveats are conditions placed on certain occupations, such as minimum salary thresholds, minimum sponsor turnover and minimum number of employees in the business.
Prior to July 1, caveats only applied to 457 occupations, so this is a major change that may adversely impact some applicants.
Caveats apply to 186 Direct Entry applications lodged after July 1. With 457 visas, caveats apply to applications lodged after July 1 as well as applications lodged earlier, but not yet decided. If your 457 application is being processed, a Case Officer will assess it and decide whether caveats apply.
457 Visa – Other July 1 Visa Changes
As you probably know by now, the 457 visa program will be phased out completely by March 2018, replaced by the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa.
More 457 changes were introduced on July 1, which include:
- English language test exemptions have been removed for all applicants except those being nominated by an overseas entity. These previously applied to all applicants earning over $96,400.
- Cooks and Chefs from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan now require skill assessments.
- Employer training benchmark requirements have been tightened.
- Compulsory police clearance. Applicants will need to provide police clearances for all countries lived in for more than 12 months, in the past ten years
ENS and RSMS – Other Changes
Aside from the list changes mentioned earlier in this article, other changes have been introduced from 1 July, which include:
- ENS 186 and RSMS 187 Direct Entry visa applicants must be aged 44 or under (no longer 49 or under)
- ENS 186 and RSMS 187 Temporary Resident Transition visa applicants require a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 in each component (compared to 5.0 previously required) or equivalent.
- Skill assessment and English exemption for applicants earning over $180,001 has been removed.
- Employer training benchmark requirements have been tightened.
General Skilled Visas – Changes
As of 1 July, there are changes impacting the different visas (189, 190 and 489) within the General Skilled Migration program.
Occupations eligible for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) and Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – sponsored by a family member in a designated area – are on the MLTSSL only.
Occupations eligible for the Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) and Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – nominated by regional or low-population growth metropolitan area – can be on the MLTSSL or on the STSOL.
Additionally, a small number of occupations on the MLTSSL cannot apply for a Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) and again a small number of occupations on the STSOL are only allowed to apply for a Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) through state sponsorship.
Mirroring the change in age for RSMS and ENS Direct Entry visa, all skilled visa applicants must now be aged 44 years or under (no longer 49 or under).
Unfortunately, there are still two lots of changes still to come (that we know of).
By December 31, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will start to collect the Tax File Numbers of visa holders and use them to data match with the Australian Tax Office. This will flag up any 457 visa holders who are not being paid correctly by their sponsor or who are working for a company they are not sponsored by.
Further changes will be introduced in March 2018, including amendments to work experience requirements, introduction of a Skilling Australians Fund Levy (replacing the current training benchmark) and an increase in the eligibility period for transitioning from a temporary 457 visas to an employer nominated PR visa.
According to the Government, the changes are needed to “sharpen the focus of Australia’s 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”.
If you think you may be eligible for a PR visa, our advice is to apply as soon as possible as things are only going to become more complicated as time goes on and further changes are introduced.