New occupation lists
It’s nearly here. The new occupation lists (to be updated every 6 months) will be released and will come into effect on or about 17 January 2018. The alterations to the lists are based on a review that was conducted by the Department of Jobs and Small Business (DJSB) in late 2017. The Department of Home Affairs promises a summary of the changes to come before the date of the lists release.
The new occupation lists will not affect applications that have been lodged but have not been finalised by the occupation lists’ effective date. It will only affect applications lodged on or after the date.
In light of the changes to happen in March 2018 affecting employer sponsored visas, occupation lists for the new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa, Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) 186 visa and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) 187 visa will be published in March 2018.
More occupations will be made eligible for the Training 407 visa.
Collection of TFNs
As part of the Department’s attempts to reduce the abuse of the 457 visa programme, Tax File Numbers (TFNs) are to be collected to catch employers who do not meet their requirements as sponsors. This implementation was set to happen before 31 December 2017 but will now occur between February and March 2018.
Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA)
The Singapore and Australian government have made amendments to the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). These arrangements came into force on 1 December 2017. Singaporean citizens, nationals and permanent citizens will be exempt from Labour Marketing Testing (LMT) requirements for the 457 visa program.
Same sex marriage
Australia voted ‘yes’ to same sex marriage. From 9 December 2017, same sex couples are able to apply for a partner visa as spouses.
Significant Investor stream applications
Second stage Significant Investor stream Business and Innovation (Permanent) 888 visa applications not lodged at the appropriate time run the risk of not meeting requirements. Please remember that applicants who have lodged their Business and Innovation (Provisional) 188 visa application prior to 1 July 2015 are eligible to apply for their second stage 888 visa only after holding their provisional 188 visa for 3 years and 11 months. Those who have lodged their application on or after 1 July 2015 are required to hold their 188 visa for at least 4 years prior to applying for their second stage 888 visa.
New Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa
Come March 2018, the Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 visa will be abolished and replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa. On this visa, applicants whose nominated occupations fall on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) will be eligible for a TSS visa of up to 2 years. Applicants whose nominated occupations fall on the Medium to Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will be eligible for a visa for up to 4 years. More details on the TSS visa will be released in February 2018.
Some points to note:
- Regional employers will have access to a broader range of occupations
- A new standard five year sponsorship agreement period which will also apply to start up businesses
- Automatic approval of complete streamlined lower risk nomination applications lodged by accredited sponsors
- There will be a new streamlined ‘renewal process’ for existing sponsors – that is, a shorter application form to fill out and possible auto-approval of such sponsorship applications
- There will be complete review of correspondence to ensure that TSS correspondence templates are easier to use and understand
- Employers who are already approved standard business sponsors for the 457 visa will be able to sponsor skilled overseas workers under the TSS visa program
Where an applicant’s 457 nomination and visa application are both lodged prior to the implementation of the TSS visa programme, they will be processed under the current 457 requirements. Where a 457 nomination application is lodged before the date the TSS visa comes into effect, but the 457 visa application has not yet been lodged, the 457 visa application will become redundant, even if the nomination has been approved. It is therefore important for 457 visa applicants to lodge nomination and visa applications as soon as possible and by the end of February. Arrangements will be put in place to ensure that redundant applications can be finalised or withdrawn and a refund provided.
Other notable transitional arrangements include:
- Secondary applicants (of 457 visa holders or pending 457 visa applicants) will be able to lodge a subsequent dependent TSS application and if they meet requirements, will be granted a TSS visa linked to their family’s subclass 457 visa application. The validity period of their TSS visa will match the expiry date of the primary 457 visa holder
- 457 visa holders whose visa is not expiring but wish to change employer after the implementation of TSS, can get their new employer to lodge a TSS nomination application to facilitate this as per current arrangements
- 457 visa holders who wish to change occupation or need a new visa, perhaps for a longer validity period, will need to lodge a new TSS visa application referencing a new TSS nomination application
Labour Market Testing (LMT)
Labour Market Testing (LMT) is mandatory for all occupations under the TSS visa program. Employers should advertise key job details, in English, via a channel that has sufficient coverage such as a national recruitment website such as jobactive.gov.au or on national print media
Transitional arrangements for ENS and RSMS from March 2018
No transitional arrangements are in place for Direct Entry stream applicants who are expected to meet the requirements in place at time of application. Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) applicants who have lodged their application before the effective date but whose applications have not been finalised, will not be affected by the changes. TRT applications lodged on or after the date will need to meet new requirements.
Under certain circumstances, an applicant visa the TRT will be subject to the following transitional arrangements:
- If the applicant held their 457 visa on 18 April 2017 and continues to hold this visa or a TSS visa/related bridging visa at time of application OR
- The applicant lodged a 457 visa application on or before 18 April 2017 which was later granted and continues to hold this visa or a TSS visa/related bridging visa at time of application, then the following requirements apply:
- Occupation list requirements will not apply
- The age requirement will remain at less than 50 years of age with existing age exemptions still available
- The minimum period an applicant is required to have been employed in their nominated occupation will remain as 2 years