Effective March 18, 2022, the Australian government implemented a set of changes that have opened a new pathway to permanent residency for skilled workers who have been living and working in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Australian government will allow Subclass 482 visa holders in the short-term stream to access permanent residency through the Subclass 186 Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) visa. Certain foreign nationals who previously held 457 visas but now hold 482 visas will also be eligible for permanent residency.
Permanent Residency for Skilled Workers
The Subclass 482 visa is Temporary Skill Shortage visa designed to allow employers to sponsor a suitably skilled foreign worker to fill a position for which a qualified Australian candidate cannot be found. The Subclass 482 visa features several “streams,” including the short- and mid-term streams as well as the labor agreement stream, each of which allows the foreign national to live and work in Australia for a specified period of time. For the short-term stream, a foreign national may typically stay in Australia for 2-4 years, but until now, these foreign nationals were ineligible for permanent residency through this subclass.
Under the terms of the government’s announcement, Subclass 482 visa holders in the short-term stream will be allowed to access permanent residency through the Subclass 186 TRT visa as of July 1, 2022. To be eligible, the candidate must meet the following requirements:
- Hold a Subclass 482 visa (short-term stream) as the primary visa holder in the nominated occupation under their nominating employer, or a Bridging visa granted after applying for a Subclass 482 visa (short-term stream).
- Have spent a cumulative total of at least 12 months in Australia from February 1, 2020, through December 14, 2021.
- Currently work for their nominating employer in their nominated occupation.
- Have worked or will work in their nominated occupation for 3 years full-time for their nominating employer in the preceding 4 years.
The new program also provides a pathway to permanent residency for foreign nationals who transitioned from the 457 Skilled Worker visa to the 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visa before the 457 visa was replaced on April 18, 2017. In addition to the requirements stated above, foreign nationals who have worked or will work in their nominated occupation in the Subclass 457/482 visa category for 2 years full-time in the preceding 3 years are eligible for permanent residence.
All candidates for permanent residence must also meet other specified requirements, including English-language competency, being under 45 years of age (or exempt from age requirements), good character requirements, and health requirements.
Certain Visa Categories Not Included
While the new program will provide a pathway to permanent residency for many foreign nationals who were previously ineligible, it does not make any special provisions for holders of non-Subclass 482 visas. For example, foreign nationals holding Subclass 408 Temporary Activity visas, which allow foreign nationals to stay in Australia for specific types of work on a temporary basis, are not eligible for the program.