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The State of Australian Immigration After July 1st

Written By Michael Walker
Tue, Jul 4, 2017
Michael Walker

As previously covered by TSS Immigration, the Turnbull Government announced significant changes to skilled migration policy in April. Understanding these changes is incredibly important for owners and managers of businesses sponsoring visa holders, as your obligations and future sponsorship options are being drastically revised.

In this month’s immigration newsletter we cover what you need to know about the key changes that come into effect from July 1.

Changes to List of Eligible Skilled Occupations 

Further changes to the list of eligible skilled occupations for the subclass 457 programme was made on 1 July 2017, as previously indicated in the Government's 18 April 2017 announcement. This included some additions and some removals from the list, as well as amendments to caveats on some occupations. 

The Department's website was updated on 1 July 2017 to reflect these changes. There a number of occupations that were removed in the changes announced in April were added back to the list, these include;

MLTSSL List Additions

• Chief Executive or Managing Director 111111

STSOL Additions

• Butcher or Smallgoods Maker 351211
• ICT Support and Test Engineers NEC 263299
• ICT Support Technicians NEC 313199

The new instrument containing the list of eligible skilled occupations will again apply to new and pipeline subclass 457 applications. For subclasses other than 457, only applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017 will be impacted by occupation list changes. 

Mandatory Skills Assessments

The Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) 457 skills assessment programme will be expanded to include some additional nationalities for a small number of existing occupations. Countries added to the list are Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.  The TRA's 'list' of available client cohorts on their website will be updated to reflect this. 

This will apply to subclass 457 applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017, with the Department retaining its discretion to request skills assessments for pipeline cases where it has concerns — as per existing policy arrangements. 

Changes to Training Benchmarks 

From March 2018 sponsors will no longer be required to meet the training benchmarks with these arrangements to be replaced by a requirement to pay a contribution to the new Skilling Australians Fund (SAF). 

To improve the integrity of the current arrangements in the interim, a new instrument outlining the training benchmarks comes into effect on 1 July 2017. 

There are no substantial changes to the current training benchmark requirements, however, there are now clearer definitions as to what can be counted towards training benchmark expenditure. For example;

Applicable Expenditure includes;

• Payments for Australian employees to undertake a formal course of study, including any reasonable and necessary associated costs
• Payments to Registered Training Organsiations (RTOs) to deliver in person training to Australian employees that will contribute to an Australian Qualifications Framework qualification (ie: Certificate or Diploma level qualification)
• Purchase of an eLearning platform or standalone training software
• Payments to cover the salary of Australian employees: engaged as apprentices or trainees under a formal training contract, or structured graduate program for up to 2 years
• The salary of an employee whose sole role is to provide training to Australian employees
• Expenditure to attend conferences for professional development

Inapplicable Expenditure includes;

• On the job training that is not identified above as applicable expenditure
• Training that is not relevant to the industry in which the business operates
• Training undertaken by principals in the business (or their family members)
• Training that has a very low skill level having regard to the characteristics and size of the business
• Induction training
• Staff salaries apportioned to time spent undertaking online or other training courses
• Purchase of software for use in normal duties
• Membership fees, purchase of books, journals or magazine subscriptions
• Attending conferences for purposes other than professional development

English Language Testing

From July 1 the exemption for English language testing for high salary earners ($96,400) has been removed for 457 visa holders, unless the visa applicant currently works for an associated entity of the sponsor overseas.

Character Changes 

The subclass 457 visa will no longer be exempt from character checks. As of 1 July 2017;

• Standard Police certificates will be required for each country in which each visa applicant has lived in for a cumulative period of 12 months or more, over the last 10 years, since turning 16 years of age
• Military service record or discharge papers for each person who is/has served in the armed forces of any country in the last 10 years will also be required — as well as police certificates for the countries of service. 

Note: These changes will only impact visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017.

We would encourage clients to organise these checks front and to be attached with their application to reduce processing delays. This is particularly important if a visa application is being made with an accredited sponsor or you are seeking priority processing. 

For further information on any Australian migration changes or to better understand how they effect your business, please contact TSS Immigration on 03 9421 1020.

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