Plans for Short-Term Mobility Visas dumped with simplifications to 457 and student visas

In December 2014, plans for a Short-term Mobility visa (which allows businesses to sponsor specialist workers for up to a year without going through the usual Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) pathway) was proposed. These plans have now been scrapped in favor of simplifying the 457 visa in a bid to reduce confusion and eliminate overlapping visa pathways. The new changes to legislation also include bringing the current 8 different student visas down to just 2. Changes are being rolled out effective today, 19 April 2016, with the Migration Legislation Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) to be fully imposed by 1 July 2016.

See: Migration Legislation Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2016


Temporary Work (Skilled) Visas (Effective 19 April 2016)

Regulations surrounding non-discriminatory recruitment practices are also being strengthened with declarations now required by sponsors. This makes the consequences of non-compliance much harder to wiggle out of, if at all. According the legislation, “discriminatory recruitment practice means a recruitment practice that directly or indirectly discriminates against a person based on the immigration status or citizenship of the person, other than a practice engaged in to comply with a Commonwealth, State or Territory law.”  The purpose of this introduction seeks to dissuade employers from exploiting the 457 programme and disregarding local labour.  Quoting from a newsletter issued by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to migration agents:

“This change implements recommendation 10.6 of the 457 Integrity Review, which raised concerns that the current attestation provided by sponsors in terms of non-discriminatory employment practices was not binding – and hence the Department was unable to take action when an employer acted in a manner contrary to this. 

“The new obligation seeks to address a community concern that some employers may be relying on the 457 programme to employ foreign workers without having regard to the availability of local labour”.  

Sponsors should keep documents  on hand that demonstrate how subclass 457 visa holders were recruited and that this process did not discriminate based on citizenship or visa status.

What else this new regulation entails is somewhat vague at this point but we expect that more details will follow shortly.  In injecting more practicality into the 457 application process, provision of evidence of meeting the DIBP’s English language requirements will be scrubbed for applicants whose occupational registrations or licences have English language requirements that meet or surpass their visa’s requisite English language ability. This basically reduces the double handling of checking if one meets the required English standards. For example, nurses require a minimum proficient English level to attain their registration and will not need to resubmit their English test results to the DIBP.


Student Visas (Effective 1 July 2016)

Visa subclasses will be reduced to Student (subclass 500) and Student Guardian (subclass 590) under this category. Eligibility criteria will now be standardised for ease of application and processing, namely in the criterias relating to enrolment, English language requirements, financial capacity and genuineness of intention to study. Applications made onshore will also undergo simplifications surrounding enrolment, financial and previous visa requirements. The programme will now focus on the genuinity of applications and new requirements will be initiated to allow department case officers to decide if applications meet this. Conditions on approved courses and when changes to a course requires a new student visa have also been clarified. This makes student visa application and processing far easier to navigate, hopefully freeing up resources for the rest of the department.

In a report from The Australian ,

“The department has told a Productivity Commission inquiry into migration that it was working on “significant” reform of the skilled migration and temporary activity visas that are “expected to improve Australia’s competitiveness and ability to attract highly skilled migrants”.

The new framework includes visa access for entrepreneurs, a move in line with Malcolm Turnbull’s promise of an innovation boom through a $1 billion blueprint that encourages highly skilled workers to travel to Australia.

It will also target graduates in fields where a future need for workers has been identified and simplify the processes for companies sponsoring workers.”

The article ends saying reforms are expected to be implemented in three stages from July, but “no “final decision” has yet been made on the visa framework and setting that would be rolled out “. 2016 looks to be quite an overhaul for skilled work visas.