Immigration update

Departmental name change

The Department of Immigration has changed its name and is now called the Department of Home Affairs.

Removal of subclass 457 visa

The subclass 457 visa is no longer available and was replaced on 18 March 2018, with the Temporary Skills Shortage visa, subclass 482.

Key features of the TSS visa

There are 2 visa streams – depending on whether the occupation nominated is on a short-term list or a medium and long-term list.  The key differences in these streams are outlined below:

Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)

  • No pathway to permanent residence
  • 2 year visa term with only 1 renewal permitted

Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)

  •  Pathway to permanent residence after 3 years
  • 4 year visa term with unlimited renewals permitted

Introduction of new requirements for the TSS visa

  • Labour Market Testing

Sponsor employers must carry out Labour Market Testing prior to lodgement of the TSS nomination application (unless an International Trade Obligation exemption applies).

  • Work experience

Visa applicants must have at least two years’ work experience (undertaken in the last 5 years) in their nominated occupation or a related field.

Skilling Australians Fund training levy (SAF)

The SAF bill was assented to on 8 May 2018, however is yet to come into effect.     Once in effect, sponsor employers will be required to make a financial contribution to a training fund, called the Skilling Australians Fund, each time they nominate an employee for a TSS visa.  That is:

  • $1,200 per year of visa (or part year) for small businesses (those with annual turnover of less than $10 million); OR
  • $1,800 per year of visa (or part year) for other businesses.

For permanent residence applications, there will be a one-off levy of $5,000.

New Global Talent Visa on 1 July 2018

This visa will be introduced on 1 July 2018 and will provide certain concessions in TSS and permanent residence visa criteria for certain applicants.  There will be two application streams:

1.       The Established Business Stream; and

2.       The Start-Up Stream.

Additional details are yet to be released.

457 visa - 1 July 2017 changes

 

Changes impacting the sponsor and nomination

Eligible occupations lists

  • The Immigration Department has revised the eligible occupations list for the subclass 457 visa to expand the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) providing a four year temporary visa option.  Occupations nominated from this list also have a future pathway to make an application for permanent residence. 
  • Recent inclusions are Chief Executive Office, ICT Security Specialist and Software Programmers.
  •  Some occupations have been restored to the Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) providing a two year temporary visa option, while others have been permanently removed as eligible to nominate for a subclass 457 visa. 
  • Removed occupations include; Medical Administrator, Shipping Professionals and Psychotherapists.
  •  Current visa holders who have a current subclass 457 visa under one of these occupations can continue to remain and work for the duration of their visa.  Those requiring a future renewal should seek advice as soon as possible to determine options.

Caveats on Occupations

  • Certain occupations on both the MLTSSL and STSOL have additional caveats which must be met in order to nominate this occupation in your business.  
  • Caveats which can apply include, minimum salary levels for the position, restrictions to the size and turnover of the business making the nomination, years of experience of the applicant.

Training obligations

  • The Immigration Department have tightened the evidentiary requirements for training expenditure which will no longer allow the inclusion of induction training, training which is not relevant to the business’ industry, attendance at conferences and membership fees.

Changes impacting the Visa applicant

 English language requirements

  • The English language requirements for the subclass 457 visa is Vocational English.  Exemptions apply for certain passport holders and those who can evidence that they have completed five years full time education in English at secondary or tertiary level. 
  • The high salary exemption (A$96,400) for English has been removed except where the applicant is an intercompany transferee.  

Mandatory Police checks

  • All subclass 457 visa applicants who are aged 16 or older will be required to provide police clearance certificates from any country that they have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years. 
  • This is a mandatory requirement for any 457 visa application lodged on or after 1 July 2017.

Formal Skills Assessments (some occupations)

  • Formal skills assessments for subclass 457 visa are only required for a small number of occupations including Specialist Managers (nec), Project and Program Administrators and some trade occupations.  This was expanded to include passport holders from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan in the occupations of Chef and Cook in July 2017.
  •  These changes have been introduced by the government to strengthen the skilled work migration programs and result in stricter eligibility criteria and more detailed evidentiary requirements. 
  • The above changes will impact the documentation requirements for each application and it is recommended that an individual eligibility assessment is conducted for each new nomination and candidate to ensure compliance with current legislation. 
  • Assessment and preparation times for applications will lengthen with the increased obligations, particularly the need to obtain police clearances. Similarly, immigration department processing times are likely to significantly extend.  This should be communicated to the business and applicants to manage their expectations regarding the timing of the application process.

Future changes

Between now and March 2018 it is expected that the Immigration Department will continue to review the eligible occupations lists for subclass 457 visas.   Applicants will also be required to provide tax file numbers for data matching with other agencies.  Increased sanctions for sponsors who are non compliant may also be introduced.

In March 2018 the subclass 457 visa will be abolished and a new temporary skilled visa will be introduced.  Proposed changes include:

  • Changes to the training obligations requiring sponsors to make a payment to a training fund for each sponsored employee.
  • Two streams – a Short term, two year stream and a Medium Term, four year stream.  Each will have different criteria including a higher English language requirement for the Medium Term stream.
  • Labour Market Testing for all positions unless an international trade obligation applies.
  • Two year post qualification work experience requirement will be mandatory for all nominated applicants.
  • Police Checks will continue to be mandatory

Information from the Immigration Department is regularly updated but cannot be confirmed until specific legislation changes are released. 

As with the recent updates in April and July, changes can also be applied to applications which are lodged and not fully decided on the date, thus having a retrospective effect on lodged applications.  We will keep you updated as further information becomes available. 

For further information please contact the following:

Rita Chowdhury:  rita@integratelegal.com       Nicole Guillaume:  nicole@integratelegal.com

 

Changes to the subclass 400 visa subclass

Changes from 19 November 2016

The Temporary Work (Short Stay) visa, subclass 400 is now called the Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa, subclass 400.

Prior to 19 November 2016, there were 3 application streams depending on whether the purpose of the applicant’s stay.  These were:

1.      specialised work;

2.      invited participant; or

3.      national importance.

The key change to the visa subclass is the removal of the last two of the three streams.

The new subclass 400 visa is now solely for persons who wish to travel to Australia to undertake:

- short-term, highly specialised, non-ongoing work; and/or

- in limited circumstances, participate in an activity or work relating to Australia’s interests.

The criteria for the visa has remained largely the same as it was previously for the specialised work stream.

For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.

Applying for Accredited Sponsorship - 1 July 2016 changes

What the advantages of becoming an Accredited Sponsor?

·        your sponsorship is valid for six years

·        you will receive priority processing of all nomination and visa applications.

How to apply for sponsorship accreditation

Accredited status can be applied for by either submitting a new sponsorship application or applying for a variation of a current sponsorship agreement.

If you do not meet the accredited sponsor requirements you will then be assessed in relation to the requirements for standard business sponsorship.

What are the requirements for accredited status?

You must be:

  • be a government agency, a publicly-listed company, or a private company, with a minimum of AUD 4 million turnover per year for the last three years
  • have been an active subclass 457 visa sponsor for the past three years (with a break of no more than six months, not due to any sanction)
  • have no adverse information known about you based on monitoring by us and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
  • have sponsored at least ten primary subclass 457 visa holders granted in the last 24 months
  •  have an excellent record of compliance with immigration and workplace law
  • have lodged a high level of decision-ready applications over the previous two years
  • have a non-approval rate of less than three per cent for the previous three years
  •  have Australian workers comprising at least 75 per cent of your workforce in Australia and a commitment to maintain this level
  • have all 457 holders engaged as employees under a written contract of employment that includes at least the minimum employment entitlements as required under the National Employment Standards (unless their occupation is exempt from this requirement).  A copy of a template contract that you use must be attached to the application
  • have all Australian employees paid in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or an internal salary table that reflects the current market salary rates for all occupations in your business. 

A copy of the Enterprise Agreement or internal salary table must be attached to the application in addition to evidence and a description of how the business used the evidence to determine that the salary rates contained in the document reflect the current market salary rates for occupations in your business (for example: awards, remuneration surveys, job advertisements, the Australian Government’s Job Outlook).

In addition, you must:

  • have provided details of all business activities undertaken by your business to the department.  Evidence relating to the other business activities must be attached to the application (for example: profit / loss statements, Business Activity Statements, annual reports); and
  • have provided details of all Principals / Directors of your business to the department.  If the business is a company, a current / historical extract from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) must be attached to the application.

What are accredited sponsors under the new program eligible for?

Sponsors approved for accredited status after 1 July 2016 will also be eligible for streamlined processing of nominations where the nominated base salary is equal to or greater than either of the following:

  • the Fair Work High Income Threshold (currently AUD 136,700) and the occupation is classified as skill level 1 or 2 in the ANZSCO;

OR

  • AUD 75,000 and the occupation is classified as skill level 1 or 2 in the ANZSCO with the exception of the following occupations:

o   recruitment consultant

o   sales representative (industrial products)

o   customer service manager

o   corporate general manager

o   procurement manager

o   quality assurance manager

o   sales and marketing manager

o   specialist manager not elsewhere classified

o   hotel/motel manager

o   contract administrator

o   information and organisation professionals not elsewhere classified.

Important issues to note

  •   You must continue to meet the requirements of accredited sponsorship during the approval period otherwise your accredited status will be revoked.
  •   Sponsors with accredited status must still comply with all sponsorship obligations.

Contact us for more information or assistance.