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Key Information: Australian 457 Visa Replacement

Written By John Unger
Wed, Apr 19, 2017
John Unger

Yesterday we reported on the announcement by Prime Minister Turnbull that the 457 visa program would be abolished and replaced by a new visa - Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa - with new rules.  

The 457 visa will continue to operate, albeit in modified form until March 2018.

Even as we were reporting this, new information was being released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to clarify the situation.

As we reported there will be the introduction of a Short-Term and a Medium-Term visa replacing the existing 457 visa. Changes to the visas will begin immediately, and it is expected that the new TSS visas and the implementation of new rules will be completed by March 2018.  Whilst only limited details are known at this time, we expect there will be increasing clarity around the new rules that will apply to the new visas in the coming weeks.

Changes From 19 April 2017

For the present, the 457 visa continues to operate, but applications are affected by new occupations lists.  

The occupations that can be sponsored will be classed on two different lists – the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)

- Applications involving occupations on the STSOL are eligible for 2 year visas;
- Applications involving occupations on the MLTSSL are eligible for 4 year visas 

  • For subclass 457 visas granted on or after 19 April 2017, under policy, the maximum four year visa period will only be available where the primary applicant’s occupation is on the MLTSSL. 
  • Some 216 occupations that could previously be sponsored for a 457 visa do not appear on either of the two new lists.
  • Special provision will be made for secondary visa applicants (e.g. family members) applying to join a primary 457 visa holder.
  • A series of ‘caveats’ has been introduced which restrict the eligibility to a 457 visa for certain occupations based on a set of particular criteria for that occupation.

The listing of caveats is detailed, and seeking professional advice is recommended when nominating one of these occupations. TSS Immigration anticipates publishing further advice on this area as more detailed information is released by DIBP.

Applications Currently Under Consideration
Applications that have been lodged will be affected by the changes.

Clients who lodged subclass 457 nomination and visa applications prior to the Government’s announcement for occupations not listed on the STSOL or MLTSSL will be given the opportunity to withdraw their applications and a refund provided. 

Nomination applications lodged from 19 April can be refused if the nominated occupation is not listed, at this stage DIBP will continue to offer withdrawal/refund of fees under policy. This ‘grace period’ is designed to reduce the impact on clients who lodged applications that cannot be approved because they were unaware of the changes to the list of eligible occupations. 

Changes From 1 July 2017
DIBP has indicated that further changes are expected to be made from 1 July, including:

  • Possible further adjustments to STSOL and MLTSSL eligible occupation lists; 
  • An expansion of classifications that mandatory skills assessments are required for 
  • Policy settings to the training benchmarks for TSS visa sponsors 
  • The introduction of penal clearance certificates as part of the visa application process.

Pathway To Permanent Residency
Of immediate concern to many 457 visa holders and their employers are any changes that may affect the ability to transition to permanent residency. Initial information provided by DIBP indicates that the changes to the occupation lists take immediate effect in this regard.

From 1 July 2017 it is expects there will be revisions to the occupation lists, changes to English language requirements and to Age requirements will apply:

  • An English language requirement of IELTS (or equivalent test) score of 6.0 in each component
  • An Age limit of 45 years old at the time of application for applicants in the 186 (ENS) and 187 (RSMS) Direct Entry stream

It appears the age requirement of 50 will continue in the Temporary Residence Transition stream for the short-term, however from 1 March 2018 it has been advised that additional changes will be made affecting all ENS and RSMS applications, including:

  • That only the occupations on the MLTSSL will be eligible
  • That an Age limit of 45 years old for all applications.

TSS Immigration anticipates publishing further advice on this in the coming days and weeks.

The above information is provided by way of general advice.  Where you are seeking guidance in relation to a specific matter, seeking professional advice is recommended.  

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