The Federal Government yesterday announced significant changes to the work visa program in Australia. The announced changes affect only pending and prospective work visa applicants. They do not impact visas already approved. We have prepared a summary of those changes below:

Temporary Work Visas

Updated Sponsorship List and visa grant period – from 19 April 2017

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) will now be referred to as the Medium and Long term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) will now be referred to as the Short term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).

Employers are able to nominate workers from both lists. The difference is in the duration of the visa approval. For occupations appearing on the MLTSSL, the visa can be granted for up to four years and for occupations on the STSOL, the visa will only be granted for two years.

It is likely that the Department will continue to permit applicants who are nominated under STSOL and MLTSSL list to renew their visas prior to it expiring.

The STSOL has removed 216 occupations from the CSOL. Common ones include Public Relations Manager (132411), Procurement Manager (133612), Media Producer (ex Video) (212112), Human Resource Adviser (223111), Liaison Officer (224912), Market Research Analyst (225112), Electronics Engineer (233411), Life Scientist (234511) and Retail Buyer (639211). See enclosed link containing the list of removed occupations .

Employers are no longer able to nominate these occupations and for applications which have not already been decided, the Department will provide applicants an opportunity to withdraw their application.

Introduction of Caveats

The Department has introduced Caveats to 59 occupations. These caveats serve as policy guidance for certain occupations which will likely be refused if the specific caveat requirement is not met.

We have prepared an overview of some of the Caveats for common occupations:

  • Accountants – the business must have a turnover of more than A$1 million, employ more than five employees and the position is not involved in clerical or book keeper duties
  • Chief Executive or Managing Director – the business must have a turnover of more than A$1 million, employ more than five employees and base salary above A$90,000 per annum
  • Corporate General Manager – the business must have a turnover of more than A$1 million, employ more than five employees and base salary above A$90,000 per annum
  • Customer Service Manager – the business is not front-line retail, has a turnover of more than A$1 million and base salary above A$65,000
  • Management Consultant – the business must have a turnover of more than A$1 million and employ more than five employees
  • Marketing Specialist – the business is not front-line retail, not predominantly a client interaction role, turnover of more than A$1 million and base salary above A$65,000
  • Recruitment Consultant – the business must have a turnover of more than A$1million, employ more than five employees and base salary above A$65,000
  • Sales and Marketing Manager – the position is not front-line retail, not predominantly client interaction role, turnover of more than A$1 million and base salary above A$65,000
  • Supply and Distribution Manager – the business must have a turnover of more than A$1million, employ more than five employees and base salary above $65,000
  • Technical Sales Representative Not Elsewhere Classified – the position is not front line retail, not based in call centres, not predominantly selling education courses and base salary above $65,000.

Further updates to the 457 program – 1 July 2017

The Department has indicated that further changes are planned for the 457 visa program from 1 July 2017. These include further adjustments to the occupation list, expanding the list of occupations requiring a skills assessment, abolishing the English language salary exemption threshold which exempts applicants from having to satisfy the English language requirement if paid above A$96,400 per annum, minor changes to the training benchmark requirement and mandating character certificates.

Introduction of the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa – March 2018

The TSS is expected to supersede the 457 visa in its current form. Some of the proposed changes include mandating labour market testing for all occupations, introduction of the non-discriminatory workforce test and require all applicants to have at least two years of relevant work experience.

We will continuously monitor any updates with the TSS and share concreate details with you as they become available.

Permanent Employer Sponsored Work Visas

Updated Skills Occupations List – from 19 April 2017

Applicants who intend on submitting applications under the Direct Entry stream of Permanent Employer Sponsored Work Visas will need to nominate an occupation which appears either on the STSOL or MLTSLL list (see above).

Further changes from July 2017

Applicants will need to sit for an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (or equivalent) and score at least 6 in each test component. The announcement is still unclear whether visa holders from predominantly English speaking countries (UK, US, NZ, Canada, Ireland) would need to complete this test. We will update you in due course.

Applicants under the Direct Entry stream will need to be less than 45 years of age at the time of application. Applications under the Temporary Residence Transition stream will need to be less than 50 at the time of application.

The Department has announced the following proposed changes from March 2018 onwards; use of the MLTSLL list for sponsorship, employees must be paid above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (currently A$53,900 per annum), permanent residency eligibility will be extended from two to three years and lowering the age threshold to 45 for all streams. We will be sharing further details as they become available.