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Upcoming Changes to the Australian V&I Program

Contributor:This post is provided by Global Expertise; a leader in global immigration resources:

Date:
June 6, 2017
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As you may know there have been some changes already made and further changes announced to the Australian visa system. 

Announcement of changes

On 18 April the Government announced that the 457 visa programme was to be reformed.  The proposed reforms include abolishing the existing 457 visa and replacing it with a new Temporary Skills Shortage Visa (TSS visa) in March 2018.  The changes commenced on 19 April and will continue to be implemented until March next year. 

Changes effective on 19 April 2017

The list of occupations eligible for inclusion in the 457 visa programme was reduced, with 216 occupations being removed from the list.  Another 59 occupations were left on the occupations list subject to conditions. This means that some occupations which were previously eligible for the 457 programme are no longer eligible, while others remain eligible but subject to caveats, for example specified periods of experience, for example, two years full time work experience in the same occupation.

The remaining occupations are divided between two lists:

  1. The Short- term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL); and
  2. The Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)

The lists are to be regularly reviewed to ensure that they reflect skills shortages in the Australian workforce. 

The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from 19 April for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two years with capacity for only one onshore visa renewal.  Occupations on the STSOL will not be eligible to apply for permanent residency. 

Visas issued for occupations which are on the MLTSSL will be eligible for 4 year visas, can be renewed onshore and provide a pathway to permanent residency on the basis that occupations on the MLTSSL have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy and aligning to longer term training and workforce strategies.

Nomination and visa applications approved prior to the changes made to the occupation lists on 19 April 2017 will not be affected by the changes to the occupation lists UNLESS the visa holders apply for a further 457 visa or change their occupation or employer, in which case the new occupation lists will apply.

Changes from 1 July 2017

From 1 July 2017 there will be further changes made to the existing 457 visa.  These will include:

Changes from 31 December 2017

The Department will start collecting Australian tax file numbers for 457 visa holders and will match this against the Australian Tax Offices records to ensure that visa holders are being paid their nominated salary.

Changes from March 2018

On a date yet to be announced in March 2018 the 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the TSS visa.  It is proposed that the TSS visa will have two streams – a short term stream of up to two years and a medium term stream of up to four years.  There will be different requirements for each stream, for example, different levels of English ability.

Applications will also require:

Further details regarding the above are presently being finalised by the Department and unfortunately aren’t available at the moment.

Changes proposed to the training benchmarks from March 2018
On Tuesday 9 May the Government announced that from March 2018 a levy will replace the training benchmarks which currently apply to the subclass 457 and permanent employer sponsored visa programmes. The levy will be paid into a fund which will be used to upskill Australians.  It is proposed that businesses with turnover of less than $10 million per year will be required to make an upfront payment of $1,200 per visa per year (or part thereof)for each employee on a TSS visa and make a one-off payment of $3,000 for each employee being sponsored for a permanent Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa.
Substantive detail for the changes that are to be made on and after 1 July are not yet available so it is difficult to provide specific advice for applications which it is proposed will be made or processed on and after 1 July.