Yesterday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the 457 visa program will be abolished and the Government will replace it with the completely new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa.
According to recent information released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), the implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and be completed by March 2018.
The TSS visa programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.
The lists which specify the occupations that are eligible for the 457 programme have also been affected. However, it seems the ICT sector has been left relatively unscathed by the change.
Please refer to the below important information that you need to be aware of.
Effective today, 19 April 2017:
- Occupation lists: The occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa will be significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted.
- The occupational lists have been renamed: Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
- Validity period: The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two years. Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years.
Who is affected by the changes made to date:
- 457 visa applicants who had lodged their application on or before 18 April 2017, and whose application had not yet been decided, for occupations that are now no longer approved for the purpose of the programme, must be withdrawn.
- The Department of Immigration has indicated it may refund visa application fee relating to the above applications. Nominating businesses for these applications may also be eligible for a refund of related fees.
- For 457 visa applicants who have lodged an application, with an occupation that is on the STSOL will be subject to the new Validity period of 2 years.
- For 457 visa applicants that have lodged an application, where occupations are subject to caveats will be required to satisfy additional criteria in order to be successful with the application.
- All people currently on a 457 visa are not affected by these changes.
From 1 July 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- Occupation lists: The STSOL and MLTSSL will undergo further review
- English language requirements: English language salary exemption threshold, which exempts applicants whose salary is over $96,400 from the English language requirement, will be removed.
- Training benchmarks: Policy settings about the training benchmark requirement will be made clearer in legislative instruments.
- Character: Provision of penal clearance certificates will become mandatory.
Before 31 December 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- The DIBP will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for 457 visa holders (and other employer sponsored migrants), and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.
- The DIBP will commence the publication of details relating to sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation.
From March 2018:
The 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the TSS visa. The TSS visa will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years, and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years.
- The Short-Term stream is designed for Australian businesses to fill skill gaps with foreign workers on a temporary basis, where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced.
- The Medium-Term stream will allow employers to source foreign workers to address shortages in a narrower range of high skill and critical need occupations, where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced.
Please refer to the government fact sheet for further information and we will be providing updates as we receive them. In the meantime, if you have any queries, please feel free to contact us.
Ph: +61 3 9600 0333