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The Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas will be abolished and replaced by Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa from March 2018.

As you may be aware, yesterday, 18th April 2017, in a Facebook-first announcement Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed the Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas for foreign workers would be replaced by a new class of visa, Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, which will be supposedly better targeted to ensure that foreign workers were only brought in to fill genuine skills shortages.

What we know so far

The Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas will be abolished and replaced by Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa from March 2018 (exact date unknown). The Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visa can still be granted (subject to requirements being met) up until this date.

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa does not yet have a subclass number.

There will be two visa streams-

1. A Short-Term, two (2) year visa for applicants employed in an occupation on the STSOL. They will have an optional two (2) year extension available before a visa-holder must leave the country to apply again. The short-term visa program will offer no prospect of permanent residency.

2. A Medium-Term, four (4) year visa program for applicants employed in an occupation on the MLTSSL. This stream will target higher skilled workers from 183 occupations. This visa will require a higher standard of English language ability. These workers will be able to apply for permanent residency after 3 years of work experience with the nominating employer;

Subsequent entrants (i.e. secondary visa applicants) wanting to join a primary subclass 457 visa holder will not be impacted by this new policy.

Occupation List Changes

Changes to the approved Occupation Lists and validity periods are in effect as of today 19 April 2017. Therefore affected clients will be unable to avoid the changes to the list of eligible skilled occupations and/or visa validity periods by quickly lodging new subclass 457 nomination or visa applications.

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).

The number of occupations targeted under the scheme will be reduced by 200 compared to roughly 650 classifications previously available in the 457 visa program via the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL).

There are Interim guidelines on Caveats for the subclass 457 programme - There are three main groups of caveated occupations (59 in total) relating to A) Work Experience, B) relating to regional location only and C) occupation specific caveats

STSOL and MTSSL will be further reviewed in July 2017 and updated every six (6) months based on advice from the Department of Employment.

Other Changes

Supposedly the 95,000 people already in Australia on Subclass 457 visas will not be affected (see below)

All skilled worker visa applicants will need to pass criminal checks with Police Clearance Certificates required;

A minimum of Two (2) years work experience will be required for both visas (which is not the case at the moment);

Mandatory Labour Market Testing (LMT) will be required except under international trade obligations;

DIBP Visa Application Charges will increase from the current $1,060 to $1,150 for two (2) year visa and $2,400 for four (4) year visa;

A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers;

A pending Nomination application and Visa Application lodged in relation to a removed occupation cannot proceed and will need to be withdrawn. A refund may be issued in relation to the charges; and

Concessions for regional Australia will continue to be available:

  • Employers in regional Australia will continue to have access to occupations under the temporary and permanent visas, to reflect their skills needs.
  • Existing permanent visa concessions for regional Australia, such as waiving the nomination fee and providing age exemptions for certain occupations, will be retained. Consideration will be given to expanding the occupations in regional Australia that are exempt from the age requirement.



Timeline of future Subclass 457 Nomination and Visa 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 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

From March 2018 (exact date to be determined) - 457 visa abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term(2 years) and Medium-Term stream (4 years).

Timeline of future Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186/Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) Subclass 187 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, Competent English IELTS 6 required in each component for both streams, changes in age (Direct Entry stream 45 years old, no change to Temporary Residence Transition stream a maximum age requirement of 50 at the time of application will continue to apply).

Before 31 December 2017 - collection of Tax File Numbers (TFN) for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

From March 2018 - the MLTSSL will apply to ENS/RSMS with additional regional occupations, Market salary rate will apply and meet Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), eligibility period for PR extended from 2 to 3 years, at least 3 years' work experience required, under 45 years of age, contribution towards training fund.

Consequences:

1. Occupations such as Cook and Café and Restaurant Manager are on the STSOL list. While an employee can still be sponsored for 2 years by a Café/Restaurant on the 457 visa and gain another 2 year extension, the employee can no longer apply for a permanent visa unless these occupations are added to the MLTSSL list or under regional concessions.

2. Retail manager is still available in regional areas for the RSMS Subclass 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 overseas 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.

What we don’t know

There are a lot of unanswered questions.

What about the cohort of current Subclass 457 Visa holders. 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 -

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-457-visa-changes/news-story/3894724396a5c7f99491c961ae9b8088

However no details have been released on the transitional (or Grandfather) arrangements.

What if the current Subclass 457 Visa holder was nominated to an occupation which has now been removed?

What if the Nomination has been finalised in relation to a removed occupation but the Visa Application is still pending? Or the Visa Application was refused and an Appeal at the AAT not yet determined?

What about pending 457 Nomination Applications that have been lodged but not decided for removed occupations where the Nominee is already a Subclass 457 Visa holder merely changing employers?

These and other questions will need to be answered in the coming days.

News Articles

For your reference please see the following news articles

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-18/government-abolishing-457-visas/8450310

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4420256/Malcolm-Turnbull-SCRAPS-457-visa-program.html

https://www.arnnet.com.au/article/617805/turnbull-set-abolish-457-visas/

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/35072811/government-to-abolish-457-visa-turnbull/#page1

http://www.theage.com.au/video/video-news/video-national-news/turnbull-ends-457-visas-20170418-4t1r5

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbulls-visa-changes-would-affect-just-8-per-cent-of-current-457-holders-20170418-gvnfer.html

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/theyre-not-flipping-burgers-universities-cry-foul-over-axing-of-457-visas-20170419-gvnio1.html

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/malcolm-turnbull-bends-to-populist-onslaught-over-457-visas-20170418-gvn1yc.html

http://www.theage.com.au/business/workplace-relations/worst-of-old-457-visa-system-will-carry-over-into-the-new-20170418-gvn0yg.html

http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-to-abolish-457-immigration-work-visas-20170418-gvmw34.html

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/turnbull-uturn-on-foreign-worker-visas-which-he-actually-hasnt-scrapped/news-story/e8e7f0c1ece587543073d8f119d25b0b

http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/who-killed-457-visas-20170418-gvn3a8.html

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-457-visa-changes/news-story/3894724396a5c7f99491c961ae9b8088

Resources

Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa – Government reforms to employer sponsored skilled migration visas - http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/457-abolition-replacement

Fact sheet one: Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme—abolition and replacement of the 457 Visa - http://www.border.gov.au/WorkinginAustralia/Documents/abolition-replacement-457.pdf

Fact sheet two: Reforms to Australia’s permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programme - https://www.border.gov.au/WorkinginAustralia/Documents/reforms-australia-permanent-employer-sponsored-migration-programme.pdf

Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) - https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L00450 AND http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists/mltssl

Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) - https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L00450

Combined list of eligible skilled occupations - http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists/combined-stsol-mltssl - note asterisks - 16 occupations on the MLTSSL (indicated by ‘** asterisks’) were restricted to only apply to the Skilled – Independent (subclass 189), Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) and Skilled-Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489) – not the Subclass 457 Visa.

List of removed occupations - http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists/removed-skilled-occupations

Migration Regulations 1994 - Specification of Occupations for Nominations in Relation to Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) for Positions other than in the Business of the Nominator - IMMI 13/067 - https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2013L01244

Changes to the occupation lists - https://www.mia.org.au/documents/item/1112

Future Updates and Advice

Please check the News Section of our website for any further updates.

If you have specific enquiries relating to your situation or that of a sponsored employee once further details emerge we would ask you direct your enquiry by email.

If significant further research and time is required to formulate advice and strategy an appointment or email service is required. Preference in response will be given to clients who retain our services. Please be patient.