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Australia – 457 to be abolished and criteria for PR to be changed

The Federal Government has announced it is abolishing the 457 visa used by foreign workers in a bid to get more Australians into the workforce.  The 457 will be replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage to be called the (TSS) visa in March 2018.

There has also been announcements on the tightening of the criteria for those applying for Australian permanent residence and this change has not been widely reported today in Australia’s media but it could have far reaching consequences for some current 457 visa holders so we are detailing the proposed changes in this newsletter.

For those people currently on a 457 visa, there will be grandfathering arrangements and they will continue under the conditions of that visa

What are the 457 reforms that we can expect ?

The TSS visa programme will be comprised of: –

  • a Short-Term stream of up to two years with no ability to apply for permanent residence, and
  • a Medium-Term stream of up to four years with an ability to apply for permanent residence.

We have underlined the main changes to the new visa for your convenience.

Key reforms include:

  • new occupation lists – see attached list of occupations that from 19 April will no longer be eligible to apply for a 457 visa at Attachment A
  • a requirement for visa applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation
  • a minimum market salary rate
  • mandatory labour market testing, unless an international obligation applies,
  • capacity for only one onshore visa renewal under the Short-Term stream
  • capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the Medium-Term stream
  • a non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers
  • strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers
  • the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records, and
  • mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.

What are the ENS reforms that we can expect ?

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) criteria is changing as well : –

  • Tightening eligibility requirements for employer sponsored permanent skilled visas, including but not limited to:
    • New occupation list – see attached list of occupations that from 19 April will no longer be eligible to apply for a 186 visa at Attachment A
    • tightened English language requirements
    • a requirement for visa applicants to have at least three years’ work experience
    • applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application
    • the permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years
    • strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers, and
    • employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (tsmit currently $53,900 pa).
  • 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.

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018.

Timeline of future 457 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 (short term skilled occupation list) 2 years.

from 01 July 2017 – English salary exemption $96,400 to be removed, training benchmarks to be changed, mandatory police clearance certificates.

before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN (tax file number) for 457 visa holders for ATO (Australian Tax Office) data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

from March 2018 – 457 visa abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term (2 years) and Medium-Term stream (4 years). 

For more information on 457 Visa changes or anything Visa and PR related please go to http://www.visaexecutive.com/

Written by Amanda Tinner –  Visa Executive

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