We all know that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) or simply 457 visa is the most commonly used program for employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers in Australia. To this end, the 457 visa allows a skilled worker to travel to Australia to work in their nominated occupation for their approved sponsor for up to four years. Currently, there are approximately 95,000 457 visa holders in Australia.
Described as an “attempt to tackle unemployment” in Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the 457 visa program for skilled migrants will be abolished and replace with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS). According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the TSS visa aims to support business in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain several safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.
“We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs (…)It is important businesses still get access to the skills they need to grow and invest, so the 457 visa will be replaced by a new temporary visa, specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest,” Malcom Turnbull said.
The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and be completed in March 2018, with some changes taking place as soon as 19 April 2017.
Furthermore, the new visa programme will include a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years.
- Short Term visa stream
- Capacity for visa renewal onshore once.
- A requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 5, with a minimum of 4.5 in each test component.
- For non-regional Australia, the occupation must be on the STSOL.
- For regional Australia the STSOL will apply with additional occupations available to support regional employers.
- Medium-Term visa stream:
- Up to 4 years in duration
- Capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years.
- A requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 5 in each test component.
- For non-regional Australia the occupation must be on the MLTSSL.
- For regional Australia the MLTSSL will apply with additional occupations available to support regional employers.
From 19 April 2017, some changes for the existing 457 visa are:
- The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List will be renamed as the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).
- The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) will be renamed Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will contain occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy.
- The occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa will be significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted. From those 435 occupations, access to 24 occupations has been restricted to regional Australia.
- The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL (formerly known as Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List) will be two years. Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years.
Starting on 1st July 2017, the most important changes for the existing 457 visa are:
- The STSOL will be reviewed based on advice from the Department of Employment.
- The MLTSSL will be revised based on outcomes from the Department of Education and Training’s 2017 – 18 SOL review.
- The English Language salary exemption threshold will be removed.
- Penal clearance certificates will become mandatory.
Before 31 December 2017, the changes for existing 457 visa are:
- The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records.
But what does this mean?
- If you are a subclass 457 visa holder, there are no announced changes for you. You can continue on with your current visa until its expiry date.
- Unfinalized 457 Nomination applications for occupations that have been removed will not be approved. In this case, a refund can be sought by applicants.
- If you have submitted a 457 visa and your employers nomination has already been approved, we have two possible scenarios:
- Occupation is not on the MLTSSL: Your visa will only be granted for 2 years and there will be only one further extension. Furthermore, you will not be allowed to apply for a permanent 186/187 visa under that occupation.
- Occupation is on the MLTSSL: Your visa will be granted for 4 years and you will be able to apply for a permanent 186/187 after 3 years if the company decides to nominate you.
This unexpected change is a proof that the migration rules are changing constantly and the process is getting harder each year. We have said before how many applicants are unaware that obtaining an Australian visa is a matter of law, and it is important that you get help from an experienced Migration Lawyer before it’s too late!
When you engage an experience migration lawyer from The Migration Place, we will make sure that your application is prepared to the highest professional standard to maximise your prospects of success. If you’re going to invest the money, you want to make sure that it’s done right the first time – you don’t want to waste money and time in legal proceedings that could have been easily avoidable. Are you having a difficult time securing your Australian visa?
Contact us TODAY for help on firstname.lastname@example.org or +61 7 3229 4025.