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Australian Government Announce Replacement for 457 Temporary Work Visa

Written By John Unger
Tue, Apr 18, 2017
John Unger

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced today the 457 visa program will be abolished and replaced by a new visa program with new rules.  In an unconventional media release via Facebook, the Prime Minister indicated that the new temporary visa will be specifically designed to “recruit the best and the brightest, in the national interest”. 

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have released the following information regarding the new visa, to be called the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.  The TSS visa is expected to be introduced in March 2018.

The TSS visa programme will include:
-  a Short-Term stream of up to two years; and
-  a Medium-Term stream of up to four years

both designed to support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers. The Government has characterised the new visa as part of its significant reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australia’s temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes.

New TSS Visa
Introduction of new requirements for the new TSS visa, including but not limited to:

  • new, more targeted occupation lists which better align with skill needs in the Australian labour market
  • a requirement for visa applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation
  • a minimum market salary rate which ensures that overseas workers cannot be engaged to undercut Australian workers
  • 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
  • the permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years
  • 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
  • DIBP collection of Tax File Numbers and data to be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records, and
  • mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.

Changes to employer-sponsored permanent visas
Separately, the DIBP has flagged there will be Tightened eligibility requirements for employer sponsored permanent skilled visas, including but not limited to:

  • 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
  • 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 set at $53,900 (not including superannuation).

Regional considerations
It appears that 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.

Changes to list of occupations that can be sponsored

Significantly condensing the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas, including the subclass 457 visa, from 19 April 2017.

The DIBP has advised that implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018. However, significantly, the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas will be revised as of 19 April 2017.  Revisions of the occupation list occur periodically, and there has been no advance indication what specific changes will be introduced on 19 April.

While not stated, changes to immigration law and policy of this type generally do not directly affect the visa status of existing visa holders.

Further information on different aspects of the reforms will be published in due course.  TSS Immigraion will provide more detail as it becomes available.

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