Australian Immigration Update: August 2018
Written By Shannon Dutt
Mon, Aug 6, 2018
The Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) Act
With bated breath, immigration professionals and employers have been waiting for an update to the implementation of the SAF by virtue of the Migration (Skilling Australians Fund) Charges Bill 2017 and Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2017, passed in May this year.
Finally, the Department of Home Affairs has announced that the SAF is expected to come into effect this quarter. While they still cannot confirm the exact implementation date, they have confirmed that on the implementation date, the changes proposed to the TSS visa program will also come into effect. These will include:
- An instrument that will specify how the Labour Market Testing (LMT) is to be published
- Increased flexibility allowing part-time work in limited circumstances
- The requirement to withdraw or refuse nominations where a concurrent Sponsorship application or Labour agreement request is refused
- Making sure that an approved nomination does not cease before the associated visa application is processed, including merits review
The LMT requirements that are to be published in a legislative instrument (currently in policy only) command that:
- LMT is undertaken (and ‘live’) for four weeks, and
- LMT is undertaken within the four months immediately preceding lodgement.
Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa Update
The Department has announced that current TSS processing times are much quicker than the previous 457 visa program, stating that 75% of applications are being processed within 57 days for the short-term stream, 55 days for medium-term stream and 28 days for the labour agreement stream.
The Department has also reiterated that they want to see only complete applications meeting all legislative requirement and will only request for further information when required by law.
Accredited Sponsorship: Another Advantage
In lieu of a police clearance, accredited sponsors are able to provide a written reference for their visa applicants (one reference for one application only) in order to meet the character requirement. The reference would need to confirm that the applicant is of good character and have not been convicted of any criminal offences. Based on recent feedback, the Department has recently adjusted the recommended wording of the declaration which can be found here.
Changes to General Skilled Migration
Starting on 1 July, the Department upped the points requirement from 60 to 65 points for Skilled Migration Points Tests.
This applies to the:
- Skilled Independent (189) visa,
- Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa and
- Skilled Regional (provisional) (subclass 489) visa.
In addition, The Department has also reduced the skilled partner age to 45 (previously 50) for applicants claiming skilled partner points. The applicant age cut-off remains at 45.
Lastly, The Department has decided to run GSM invitation rounds monthly instead of fortnightly, increasing the invitation allocation accordingly, allowing for a better pipeline for the skilled visa program.
Employer Nomination / Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme: TRT Stream Update
The Department announced that they will continue to take the wider interpretation regarding ‘direct control’ and will finally put this into immigration policy again after a strange hiatus.
Seeing as this is quite an important part of the TRT stream for businesses operating in association with other businesses and especially for large companies, it is frankly a relief that the policy will again reflect the intention of the regulations.
Essentially, this approach ensures that an original Standard Business Sponsor can nominate their subclass 457/TSS visa holder for permanent residence under the 186 or 187 visa and can include work done for an associated entity during the required two or three year period working on a subclass 457/TSS visa. This also extends to allow for work during a further 457/TSS nomination where the position has slightly changed (title/tasks) or there has been an increase in salary.
The ‘Cutting Edge’ Global Talent Scheme (GTS)
The GTS (unfortunately not a new automobile model on it way to Australia but exciting nonetheless) launched on 1 July 2018 and will run for 12 months. The Department announced this month that the very first GTS agreement is already in place. The GTS is aimed at businesses that seek to employ highly skilled individuals with niche, cutting-edge talents in roles that would not be covered by the TSS visa occupation lists. This new program has 2 streams:
- Established Business stream: Allows accredited sponsors to employ highly skilled persons to contribute to innovation in an established business
- Start-up stream: Allows start-ups operating in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field to sponsor highly skilled individuals to contribute to Australia’s start-up business environment and cultivate new ideas. This, in turn, will drive employment opportunities and new technology for Australia. Start-ups must be endorsed by the relevant independent start-up advisory panel.
The GTS would allow for a 4 year TSS visa, with the potential for permanent residence after 3 years.
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