Australia – Immigration Alert

Significant Immediate Changes to Temporary Work (Skilled)(subclass 457) visas

What has changed?

Effective immediately, the Australian government has made significant adjustments to the available occupations for Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visas. They also issued a range of restrictions in relation to the use of occupations which remain on the list of those available. These restrictions increase transparency in terms of feasibility in specific instances, but reduce flexibility to accommodate some situations.

Who is affected?

  • Individuals with pending Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visas in Australia
  • Individuals applying for Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visas in Australia

What to expect

The changes in relation to occupations are as follows –

  • A total of 216 occupations have been removed from the list, although this list includes many occupations which were already in disuse.
  • The previous Skilled Occupation List has been renamed the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).
  • The previous Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List has been renamed the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (SSTOL).
  • Restrictions have been issued in relation to fifty-nine (59) occupations. These restrictions are in three categories – those now requiring specific levels of work experience, others which restrict access to use of the occupations other than in specified areas of regional Australia (e.g. outside of major capital cities), and occupation-specific restrictions.
  • The Australian Government has linked which occupation a person is nominated in to the length of visa available. Applicants whose occupation is on the MLTSSL may receive a four (4) year visa. These changes to visa validity have an immediate effect, including applications already filed.
  • An additional impact is on applications awaiting a decision but where the occupation nominated has been removed entirely from the lists. In this instance, the visa cannot be approved and would need to be re-lodged under an occupation on one of the two (2) new lists.
  • It is intended that applicants whose occupation is on the MLTSSL will have access to a permanent residence pathway, while applicants on the SSTOL will not.

Occupation-Specific Restrictions 

In relation to occupation-specific restrictions, these tend to formalize existing policy but make clear situations where a nomination in a given occupation will not be approved.

For example, restrictions have been issued in relation to positions such as a Corporate General Manager and Corporate Services Manager. These will now not be open to businesses in Australia which have less than five (5) employees or less than A$1 million turnover or where the salary will be under A$90,000.

Other occupations now subject to caveats include: Customer Service Manager, Hotel Manager, Management Consultant, Marketing Specialist, Sales & Marketing Manager, and Technical Sales Representative.

What you need to do
Planning ahead
  • There will be fewer occupations available, and thus some assignments may not be feasible. Pathways to permanent residence are more restricted, and visas will be issued for shorter periods. Position descriptions will be critical in determining the occupation.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.

Future Abolishment of Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visas

What has changed?

On April 18th, 2017, the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, announced the abolishment of the most commonly used work visa, the Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa. Subject to the approval of regulations in Parliament, the change will take effect in March 2018.

The visa will be replaced with the Temporary Skills Shortage visa which will have two (2) streams – a short-term stream of visa for up to two (2) years and a medium-term stream for visas of up to four (4) years.

Currently, the existing Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa is commonly issued for up to four (4) years regardless of occupation.

Labor market testing is currently only required in very limited circumstances.

There is no requirement under the existing visa for a specific period of work experience. The current permanent visa pathway is available after two (2) years, rather than three (3) under the new visa.

Who is affected?

  • Individuals applying for the Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa in Australia

What to expect

The new Temporary Skills Shortage visa will also introduce new requirements: fewer occupations will be available for the new visa, there will be a mandatory work-experience requirement, a minimum market salary will apply, and there will be a mandatory labor market testing with a more limited range of exemptions.

The new visas may be more difficult in some instances to acquire because of the requirement to labor market test and the requirement to provide a police clearance.

The new visa will allow for onshore renewal, and there will be a pathway to permanent residence for visa holders who qualify under the Medium-Term stream after three (3) years. Only one onshore renewal is to be permitted under the short-term stream of visa. Additional changes are as follows:

  • A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers
  • Strengthened requirements for employers to contribute to training Australian workers
  • Collection of TaxFile Numbers for matching the records of the Australian Taxation Office
  • A requirement for visa applicants to supply police clearance certificates

The Prime Minister also announced the following measures to tighten employer-sponsored permanent visas:

  • A tightening of English language requirements, although details are yet to be provided
  • A requirement for at least three (3) years of work experience
  • Applicants must under forty-five (45) years of age
  • Strengthened requirements for employers to contribute to training Australian workers
  • Condensing the occupation lists used for skill migration visas, including for the current 457 visa, from April 19, 2017
  • Salary of sponsored workers must be above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (currently A$53,900) and above the market salary rate for the occupation

Exemptions from some requirements for regional Australia will be available, such as occupations for skills needs and age exemptions for certain occupations.

What you need to do
Planning ahead
  • It is advisable for applicants who qualify for a permanent visa under the existing arrangements to proceed with their applications.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.