Each week the Department of Home Affairs releases more information about the upcoming changes to the employer sponsored visas. While there is still a lot we don’t know, there is a lot we do know. So here’s an update.

New occupation lists

One of the changes announced in April 2017 was a six-monthly review of skilled occupations. The current review has been completed and new occupation lists come into effect on 17 January 2018. These lists are not yet available however the Department of Home Affairs has said that the new occupation lists will not apply to pipeline applications (including subclass 457 visa applications).

There will be a further change to the occupation lists in March 2018 at the same time the new legislation for employer sponsored visas takes effect.

Important information regarding lodging 457 visa applications in-house

he Department of Home Affairs has announced that from 15 January 2018 it will be refusing applications assessed as not meeting the legislative requirement at the initial assessment stage due to lack of required supporting evidence. You will be given a window of two calendar days to upload documents to your applications. This does not apply to health and character documentation.

If you prepare your own applications in-house please make sure everybody is aware of this.

Labour market testing for the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

Once the TSS visa commences, all businesses will be required to provide evidence of its attempts to fill the position locally. The only exemption to this will be where there is an international trade agreement in place. However, we expect these exemptions will be limited.

The Department of Home Affairs has indicated previously that a legislative instrument will specify exactly how a business is to test the labour market and what evidence needs to be provided with applications. The instrument isn’t yet available however we have been told that businesses who advertise key job details, in English, via a channel that has sufficient coverage (for example: national recruitment websites such as jobactive or national print media) will satisfy the labour market testing requirement.

Keep this in mind if you are currently trying to fill a role and think you may need to sponsor an overseas worker. It is likely Gumtree, Facebook and advertising only in local newspapers will not be accepted in the future.

Permanent Skilled Changes for March 2018

More information about the changes to the Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme and Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa is available. To summarise:

  • The nominated occupation needs to be on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List. Regional employer will have access to additional occupations however this will be significantly less than present
  • The salary and condition provisions that apply to the Temporary Skill Shortage visa will apply to these applications. That is the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) of $53,900
  • The eligibility for transition to permanent residence will be extended from two years to three
  • At least three years’ work experience relevant to the nominated occupation will be required. This will also apply to regional Australia which presently has no minimum work experience requirement
  • Subject to any age exemptions, all applicants must be under 45 years of age at the time of application
  • Sponsors will be required to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund at the nomination stage.

There is some good news for some subclass 457 visa holders (those who held, or applied for their visa before 18 April 2017). For this group of people, the Temporary Residence Transition stream is still available with the following requirements expected to apply:

  • Occupation list will not apply
  • Age requirement will remain at less than 50 years’ of age with existing age exemptions still available
  • Eligibility to apply after two years.

A word of caution

While the Department of Home Affairs is doing its best to provide detail about the March 2018 changes, much of what has been announced is still subject to approval. We can use this information as a guide but cannot rely on it until the legislation is passed.