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Unsettling changes continue for 457 visa holders. But there are options before and after TSS visa arrives - though you may need to act soon

Sudden changes to employer sponsored visa programs have unsettled the landscape for visa holders, prospective visa applicants and employers as well.

12 Oct 2017. Dessie Hristova

On 19 April 2017, the Federal Government announced changes to the employer sponsored visa programs that resulted in confusion and alarm. From then on, abode migration lawyers (abode) set into motion strategies to assist visa holders, applicants and employers.

 

As a result of the sudden changes, the team at abode has been busy lodging permanent residency applications under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) and the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186). These were for applicants with a nominated occupation that only appears on the short-term list of occupations.

 

Frustrations have mounted on all sides, and with due respect, some information on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website (www.border.gov.au) has spread more confusion than it has added clarification. The website suggests that if you are the holder of a Temporary Skilled work subclass 457 visa at the time the changes occurred you will not be affected by the changes.

 

In some ways that is correct, in that if you have a granted 457 visa and you are the holder of that visa for the period of its validity, your 457 visa will not be affected but, and here lies the problem, the changes have already affected your eligibility for an employer sponsored permanent residency, if your occupation falls in the Short-term Skilled Occupation List.

 

Waiting for further changes to come into force in March 2018 will mean a rethink on how to approach permanent residency. From March 2018, you will need to meet the following requirements:

1)      you will need to have worked for the employer sponsoring your subclass 457 visa for a period of 3 years before you become eligible to apply for permanent residency under the Temporary Residence Transition of the Employer Nomination Scheme subclass 186  (ENS) or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme subclass 187  (RSMS) visa;

2)      you need to be nominated in an occupation that appears on the Medium to Long Term Skilled Occupations List.

 

Presently, both the Direct Entry and the Temporary Residence Transition streams of the ENS and the RSMS are available for occupations on the Medium to Long Term as well as the Short Term Skilled Occupations Lists. This will change in March 2018.

 

Here is a brief and simple comparison of what was the situation before the changes, what currently exists and what happens after the changes come into effect.

Before 19 April 2017

 

The Consolidated Skilled Occupations List held occupations available for 457 visa for up to 4 years and were also available for all streams of the ENS. There was an even more generous list for all streams of the RSMS.

 

From 19 April 2017 to March 2018

 

Now there are separate lists for each visa program: 457, 186 and 187 with each list containing two other lists:

 

Medium to Long-term Strategic Skills List - (MLTSSL)

 

This contains occupations eligible for nomination for up to 4 years for a 457 visa and for nomination for permanent residency by an Australian employer for the direct entry and the temporary residence transition streams of both ENS and RSMS.

 

Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)

 

This contains occupations eligible for nomination for up to 2 years for a 457 visa. They are also eligible for nomination for permanent residency and eligible for nomination for permanent residency by an Australian employer for all streams of both ENS and RSMS.

 

Temporary residence transition requires a visa applicant, at time of application, to have evidence of competent English and 2 years full time work in Australia as the primary sponsored 457 visa holder in the same occupation for the same employer, who is the standard business sponsor for the 457 visa and the nominator for the ENS or RSMS visa.

 

Direct entry requires the visa applicant to have evidence of competent English. Additionally, for ENS the applicant must have a positive skills assessment and at least 3 years of full time work (at least 35 hours per week) in the nominated occupation or a closely related occupation. For the RSMS the visa holder must have relevant Australian qualifications or overseas qualifications equivalent to Australian qualifications or a skills assessment. No work experience is required for the visa, though some may be required to provide evidence of work experience for the purpose of a skills assessment.

 

Some occupations have caveats, these are additional requirements that the Minister for Immigration considers to be relevant occupation specific criteria. There are about 22 caveats listed on the Skilled Occupations Lists for employers and visa applicants to meet.

 

Post March 2018 proposed changes

 

The 457 visa will be abolished and replaced by the Temporary Skilled Shortage visa (TSS visa) with separate lists for each visa program, and each list will contain two other lists:

 

MLTSSL will contain occupations eligible for nomination for up to 4 years and also eligible for nomination for permanent residency by an Australian employer for the direct entry temporary residence transition of both ENS and RSMS.

 

The temporary residence transition will require the visa applicant at time of application to have evidence of competent English and 3 years full time work in Australia in the same occupation for the same employer, who is the standard business sponsor for the visa and the nominator for the ENS or RSMS visa.

 

STSOL will contain occupations eligible for nomination for up to 2 years with the option for once only renewal and no employer sponsored pathway to permanent residency.

 

Would you agree that although you have been the holder of a 457 visa prior to the April 2017 changes you are in fact affected by these changes?

Other options

 

The good news is that there will still be plenty of opportunities under the General Skilled Migration with State or Territory sponsorship in the temporary subclass 489 visa and the permanent subclass 190 visa for those with occupations on the STSOL.

 

If you would like to know more about the changes and your options please complete our webform and Sam or Dessie will get back to you for a 15 minute chat. Alternatively, book a one hour consultation to discuss the specifics of your case and receipt of advice on your unique circumstances.

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