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