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457 Visa Program To Be Replaced

New Visa Scheme Welcomed

The Australian Government have announced a new initiative to streamline how oversea workers are sponsored by Australian employers. From March 2018 a new visa will replace the 457 visa, this will will known as 'Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa.

The outdated 457 scheme has not kept the pace of time, in addition many abuse the scheme. It is believed the Government will introduce additional measures to combat this abuse with the new TSS visa.

The Government also intends to be more specific in targeting skills in real demand; shortages in the labour force which cannot be filled in the short term.

New Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

There is some information on the requirements for the new temporary work visa replacing the 457 visa.

The main points of the new visa program as follows:

Occupations List

As of Wednesday April 19th, the number of occupations eligible for the new TSS visa programme will be reduced from 651 to 435, with caveats on a further 59, and the threshold to qualify will be raised. Other restrictions and conditions will be introduced on a phased basis until the 457 visa is abolished completely in March 2018.

We would expect that the shorter list would also apply to the new TSS visa.

A change to the approved list for 457 visas could also impact on the ENS direct entry visa, the Occupational Trainee Stream of the Training Subclass 407 visa, and state nominated General Skilled visas (ie the Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 and Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 visa).

Work Experience

A minimum of 2 years of work experience will be required to meet the requirement for the visa. The skill level for a 457 visa can currently be met without any work experience, providing the applicant has relevant qualifications.

This change will impact significantly on those without work experience in the occupation - particularly international students completing studies in Australia.

Labour Market Testing

Labour Market Testing would require employers to show that they have advertised the position to be filled and show that a local is not available to fill the position.

Currently, Labour Market Testing is only required when nominating trade occupations, nursing or engineering occupations for a 457 visa. The announcement indicates that Labour Market Testing will be required in all cases when applying for a TSS visa, except when exempted by international trade agreements.

If Labour Market Testing is required in most cases when applying for a TSS visa, this could significantly delay lodgement of the visa application - particularly important when filling an urgently required role or where the applicant's visa is expiring.

Visa Period

There will be 2 streams for the TSS visa - a short-term stream of 2-years and a medium-term stream of 4-years.

The short-term stream can only be renewed only once.

The medium-term stream is likely to have higher requirements (eg English language ability, shorter occupations list) and can be renewed or may also lead to a permanent visa.

Police Clearances

Police clearances will be required for the TSS visa. Depending on the country of residence, these can take several months to come through. Police clearances are not required for 457 visas, unless the applicant has a criminal record.

Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

Changes have also been outlined for permanent employer sponsored visas - this would potentially affect both the ENS and RSMS visas. It is not yet clear when these changes would come into effect - most likely this would be March 2018.

Likely changes include:

• Work Experience: 3 years of work experience will be required to apply for permanent employer sponsored visas in general.

• Transition from 457: for the ENS and RSMS Temporary Residence Transition stream, applicants must currently show that they have worked for their employer on a 457 visa for 2 years. 3 years of work for the employer on a TSS will be required going forward

• Age: applicants for permanent employer sponsored visas will need to be under 45 when applying. Currently, it is possible to apply for ENS and RSMS up to the age of 50, and a few concessions exist to waive the age requirement. This change would have a significant impact on older applicants.

Regional Concessions

The announcement indicates that certain concessions will be retained for regional employers. These may include:

• Occupations List for Temporary and Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas: a wider range of occupations may be possible for both the 457/TSS and RSMS visas for regional employers.

• Age Exemptions for Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas: age waivers are currently possible for the ENS and RSMS visa for certain occupations - this includes medical practitioners, academics and staff at Government scientific agencies. These concessions will be retained for regional employers, and might also be expanded

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