The 457 visa is abolished as of 18 March 2018 and is being replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Subclass 482 visa. This will be a change which affects all employers who sponsor staff, and the changes to the legislation are extensive.
The changes are effective 18 March 2018. After this date:
- It is no longer possible to apply for a 457 visa;
- The TSS subclass visa replaces the 457 visa
Changes also apply to permanent employer sponsored ENS and RSMS visas lodged on or after this date.
Status of outstanding 457 application as of 18 March 2018?
457 visa applications lodged before 18 March 2018 will continue to be processed. They will be assessed as per the Migration Regulations which applied prior to this date.
Employers must nominate one of the three TSS application streams. These are as follows:
1. Short Term Stream
For the short term stream:
- The nominated occupation must be on the STSOL (Short Term Skilled Occupations List)
- Applicants must show that they are Genuine Temporary Entrants
- The visa is valid for either 1 or 2 years (unless an International Trade Obligation applies)
- The visa can only be renewed onshore once
2. Medium Term Stream
For the Medium Term Stream:
- The occupation must be on the MLTSSL (Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List)
- A higher English language requirement applies compared to the Short Term Stream
- The visa can be valid for 1, 2, 3 or 4 years
- The visa can be renewed without limitation and applicants may be eligible for permanent employer sponsored options
3. Labour Agreement Stream
This stream is for employers who have negotiated a labour agreement with the Australian Government.
Work Experience Requirements
To be eligible for a TSS visa, the applicant must have at least 2 years of work experience. This would need to be in the nominated occupation or “related field”. It was possible to apply for a 457 visa with no work experience, providing you hold a relevant qualification. This would mean that people without work experience would not be eligible for a TSS visa – for example international students.
There does seem to be some flexibility in considering work experience which is not necessarily in the nominated occupation, but in a related field.
If sponsored under a Labour Agreement, a waiver of the 2-year work experience requirement is possible.
English Language Requirements
For the Short Term Stream, the English requirements are the same as for the 457 visa – that is an average of 5 in the IELTS, with no scores under 4.5 in any of the 4 bands. A range of alternative English tests are also accepted as per the 457 visa.
For the Long Term Stream, the English Requirement is higher. A minimum of 5 in each band of IELTS is equivalent, and an average of 5 is not sufficient.
Similar to the 457 visa, exemptions from English language testing are available for:
- Passport holders from the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and New Zealand
- People who have completed at least 5 years of study in English medium
- Intra-company transfers where the base salary is at least $96,400
- Diplomatic/consular appointments
For the Labour Agreement stream, the requirement is less strict – applicants must show they have the English language skills to perform the occupation, without reference to formal English testing.
To qualify for a 457 or TSS visa, applicants must in general to show they do not have any medical conditions which are:
- of public health concern; or
- would result in a significant cost to the Australian community; or
- would result in use of scarce medical or community services
Changes to the Skilled Occupations Lists
The structure of the list for the TSS visa has changed – we now have the following classifications:
- MLTSSL: the short list of most in demand occupations. Eligible for 4 year visas, and for permanent residence options
- STSOL: longer list of occupations which are eligible for a TSS visa valid for up to 2 years
- Regional Occupations: list of occupations which are eligible for a TSS only if the position is in a regional postcode. Also eligible for the permanent RSMS visa
There have been no changes to the MLTSSL or STSOL, but occupations have been added to the Regional list. This means that some occupations which were not eligible for 457 visas may be eligible for a TSS visa if the position is located in a regional area.
TSS Visas are similar to the condition which applied to the 457 visa and broadly speaking is as follows:
- The employee can only work for the nominating employer, in the occupation in which they were sponsored
- If registration, licensing or professional membership is required to work in the position, the applicant holds this
- The holder must commence work within 90 days of grant or arrival in Australia; and
- The holder is subject to cancellation if they cease work for more than 60 days
The application fee depends on which stream is being applied for:
- Short Term Stream: AUD1,150
- Medium Term Stream: AUD2,400
- Labour Agreement Stream: AUD2,400
The Government has also announced that a Training Levy will apply to TSS nominations. When the training levy is introduced, this will significantly increase the cost for employers of obtaining a TSS visa.
Validity period for a TSS Sponsorship Approval
When a Standard Business Sponsorship is granted after 18 March 2018, it will be valid for a period of 5 years in most cases. Previously, it would be valid for a lesser amount of time if the business was a start-up.
The TSS visa is similar in concept to the 457 visa, but different in detail in a number of important ways. If you would like advice on applying for TSS visas for your staff, or how the changes will impact your business, please call on 080-49016425 or email us with your queries. A For a detailed discussion a basic consultation fee will be applicable.
The recent changes are also likely to result in further efforts made by the Department of Immigration, to strengthen the integrity of the employer sponsorship program.
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