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Skilled Visa Changes March 2018

On March 18, 2018, the Department of Home Affairs finally implemented their anticipated changes to skilled visas. Such changes included the abolishment of the 457 visas, the implementation of the new Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa and changes to the occupation lists including:

• Three Occupation Lists – Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and Regional Occupation List (ROL)
• Additional regional occupations included in the respective instrument for the relevant visa subclass.
• Only occupations on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills Shortage List (MLTSSL) will apply to the ENS 186 Direct Entry Stream
• If you lodged a subclass 457 visa application after 18 April 2017, Occupation list requirements apply to the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the ENS and RSMS visa programs at nomination application stage, except where transitional arrangements are available. That is, people who lodged a subclass 457 visa application on or before 18 April 2017 or were the holder of a subclass 457 visa.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482) also known as ‘TSS Visa’

The TSS visa has 3 streams – Short Term, Long Term and Labour Agreement.

The Short-Term Stream is valid for 2 years only and does not offers permanent residency pathways. Occupations listed on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) are applicable. There is the possibility of an onshore renewal subject to Genuine Temporary Entrant requirements.

The Medium-term stream valid for up to 4 years and offers transitional pathways to permanent residency for those applicants who work in their nominated position for at least 3 years. Applicants who nominate an occupation on the Medium-term stream will need to achieve at least the following scores in the relevant English language test.

o IELTS at least 5.0 in each test component
o OET at least B for each test component
o TOEFL at least 35 overall and at least 4 in each test component
o PTE at least 36 in each test component
o CAE at least 154 in each test component

For all streams, visa applicants will be required to have at least 2 years of post-qualification work experience in the nominated occupation or a related field.

Changes for employers include:

• Business sponsors who are accredited sponsors can now provide the Department of Home Affairs a letter attesting to the fact that the applicant is of good character and has not been convicted of any criminal offences, this can be used in lieu of providing overseas police clearances. This however, does not apply to Australian Federal police checks this is still a mandatory requirement.

• There are no longer any exemptions to Labour Market Testing (LMT) based on the skill level of the occupation. LMT is exempt only if an international trade obligation applies.

• LMT will need to occur and be completed within six months prior to lodging a nomination application or if the nomination was lodged on or after 18 March 2018 and before 18 June 2018 then LMT must have been completed within the twelve months prior.

• At least two advertisements will need to be published to satisfy LMT requirements. These can include advertising on:
o a national recruitment website (for example, jobactive.gov.au)
o A general classifieds website or an advertisement solely through a social media notification, such as Twitter or Instagram is not an acceptable method
o in national print media – that is, national newspapers or magazines that are published at least monthly and marketed throughout Australia
o on national radio – that is, radio programmes that are broadcast or syndicated nationally

• The Skilling Australian Fund (SAF) that is set to replace the training benchmark requirement is currently still before Parliament. Once the SAF arrangements have come into effect businesses will no longer need to satisfy the training benchmark they will only be required to make the appropriate SAF payment if an associated nomination application is lodged.

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186)

For applicants who lodged a subclass 457 visa application on or before 18 April 2017 or were the holder of a subclass 457 visa, the transitional requirements for the temporary residence transition arrangements are still applicable. This includes:
o occupation list requirements will not apply
o the age requirement will remain at less than 50 years of age with existing age exemptions still available, and
o The minimum period an applicant is required to have been employed as the holder of a subclass 457 or TSS visa will remain at two years.

If however, you applied and subsequently were granted a subclass 457 visa / TSS Visa or related bridging visa after 18 April 2017 the new requirements for transitional apply, this includes (age, occupation list requirements and be the holder of the relevant visa for a minimum period of three years).

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (subclass 187)

An updated legislative instrument relating to the specific occupations for the subclass 187 visa has been released. This provides occupations listed on the Medium and Long term strategic skills list as well as an addition of occupations on the Regional Occupation List.