The Australian Government has announced there will be a series of reforms and alterations made to the current employer sponsor visa system. The reforms include abolishing the Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa (457 visa) and replacing it with the completely new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018. The TSS will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers. Over the next year, the reforms will slowly be introduced until taking effect completely in March 2018.
The information provided has been sourced from The Department of Immigration and Border Protection – Fact Sheet One: Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme – abolition and replacement of the 457 visa. Available https://www.border.gov.au/WorkinginAustralia/Documents/abolition-replacement-457.pdf
REFORMS TO AUSTRALIA’S 457 VISA
What Has Changed?
From 19 April 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- The occupation lists underpinning the 457 visa will be significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted.
- Of the 435 occupations, access to 24 occupations has been restricted to regional Australia (e.g. occupations relating to farming and agriculture).
- The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) will also be renamed as the new Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment.
- The Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will contain occupations assessed as high value to the Australian economy and aligning with the Government’s longer term training and workforce strategies.
- The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations on the STSOL will be two years. Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years.
Changes from July 2017
From 1 July 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- Occupation lists: The STSOL will be further reviewed based on advice from the Department of Employment. The MLTSSL will be revised based on outcomes from the Department of Education and Training’s 2017-18 SOL review.
- English language requirements: English language salary exemption threshold, which exempts applicants whose salary is over $96,400 from the English language requirement, will be removed.
- Training benchmarks: Policy settings about the training benchmark requirement will be made clearer in legislative instruments.
- Character: Provision of penal clearance certificates will become mandatory.
Changes by December 2017
Before 31 December 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- Tax File Numbers for 457 visa holders (and other employer sponsored migrants) will be collected by the DIBP. Data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure visa holders are not being underpaid in their nominated salary.
- Details relating to sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation will be published by the DIBP.
Changes from March 2018
From March 2018, the 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the TSS visa.
- The TSS visa will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years, and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years.
- The Short-Term stream is designed for Australian businesses to fill skill gaps with foreign workers on a temporary basis, in instances where a suitably skilled Australian worker is unavailable.
- The Medium-Term stream will allow employers to source foreign workers to address shortages in a small list of high skill and critical need occupations, where a suitably skilled Australian worker is unavailable.