On the 18th of April 2017, the Federal Government announced a series of reforms to the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa). These major changes will have an impact on current 457 visa holders, prospective applicants, businesses sponsoring skilled migrants and industry.
The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa
By March 2018, the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (visa subclass 457) will be abolished and replaced with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa. The new TSS visa programme will introduce two new visa terms for foreign workers: short term and medium term.
- Short term visas will be issued to fill skill gaps on a temporary basis, require applicants to have previous work experience and will be only two years.
- Medium term visas will be issued only for more high skill and critical need occupations, for up to 4 years and may offer a pathway to permanent residency after 3 years.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection outlined that these two terms will include strict requirements for applicants, such as:
- English language tests;
- Mandatory labour market testing;
- A new non-discriminatory workforce test;
- Mandatory criminal history checks;
- A market salary rate assessment; and
- A new two-year work experience requirement.
Both visas will only be issued where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced by the business.
Changes to the Occupation Eligibility
From April 19 2017, the number of occupations eligible for these two streams will be reduced from 651 professions under the former list to 435, a deduction of 216 occupations. Within this new list, 24 occupations will be restricted to regional Australia (for example agriculture and farming).
The former Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) has changed to the new Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL). It will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment. The occupations list used for skilled migration, the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed to the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).
According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection the skilled occupations outlined in this list will be assessed based on their “value to the Australian economy and their alignment to the Government’s longer term training and workforce strategies.” The Department has also stated that further information about the Occupation Lists will be made available in the near future.
Current and Prospective Visa Holders
Persons under the 457 visa scheme before the announcement will be exempt from these changes, including those working in one the 216 occupations removed from the list. High-demand 457 visa occupations in industries such as health care (doctors and nurses), food services (chefs and restaurant management) and most IT occupations, will remain eligible under the new TSS scheme. However, further changes will be made to the occupation lists in June 2017, with caveats to be imposed on specific occupations and the businesses seeking to employ skilled migrants.
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