January 2018 Visa Update

Plane taking off

On 20 December 2017, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection was rebranded by the Government and is now known as the Department of Home Affairs – https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/

This name change sees the former Department of Immigration included in the portfolio of federal law enforcement, national and transport security, criminal justice, emergency management and border related functions and agencies.On 20 December 2017, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection was rebranded by the Government and is now known as the Department of Home Affairs – https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/

This name change sees the former Department of Immigration included in the portfolio of federal law enforcement, national and transport security, criminal justice, emergency management and border related functions and agencies.

Skilled Visa update

Last week, the Department of Home Affairs released the first of this year’s updates on the Skilled Visa programme, outlining the changes that will take place later in January, with more to come in March.

There will be updates made to the current list of occupations for temporary and permanent skilled visas on or around 17 January, and there has been confirmation that the new list will not apply to applications already being processed by Immigration. Further, there will also be a new occupation list published in March for the Employer Nomination Scheme, Regional Skilled Migration Scheme and the new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa programmes.

The occupations that have been flagged for removal from the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) are:

  • Accommodation and Hospitality Managers
  • Hair or Beauty Salon Manager
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Building Associate

There has also been a list of occupations flagged for addition to the STSOL:

  • University Tutor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Property Manager
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Real Estate Representative

We expect some changes to the short term list, however the Government has indicated it will prioritise stability of the program for business and major changes are not expected.

Temporary Skill Shortage

The Government will be introducing the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa in early March, and while there is no exact date this will occur, the Department has advised that there will be three options available under this new Visa programme:

  • Short-term stream – this Visa will be available for a maximum of 2 years (occupations on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List)
  • Medium-term stream – this Visa will be available for a maximum of 4 years, with eligibility to apply for permanent residence after 3 years (occupations on the Medium to Long Term Skilled Occupation List)
  • Labour Agreement – this is for employers to source overseas workers in accordance with a Labour Agreement with the Government, where there is a demonstrated need for the employees, and no other pathways available to them

The Department will subsequently implement new initiatives for sponsors to support this programme.

Some of these initiatives include:

  • Accredited sponsorship will offer business sponsors auto approval of nominations
  • Reducing approval times from 5 days to immediate approval
  • a new streamlined ‘renewal process’ for existing sponsors

These changes also mean that transitional arrangement have been put in place, whereby both the Nomination and Visa of a 457 lodged prior to the introduction of the TSS, must both be approved before the TSS comes into effect in March, otherwise, they will become redundant.

Client should ensure that 457 nominations are linked to a 457 Visa application before the TSS visa is introduced to avoid the need to lodge a new TSS nomination and pay the training levy for that employee. Transferring 457 visa holders can transfer their visa with the lodgement of a TSS Nomination.

To avoid any delays or unnecessary additional processing steps, Registered Migration Agents are, however, strongly encouraged to:

  • lodge complete subclass 457 nomination and visa applications together before the end of February, or
  • postpone lodgement until commencement of TSS.

Further, Labour Market Testing (LMT) will be required for all TSS applications, with occupation exemptions no longer available.

Permanent Skilled updates

The Employer Nomination Scheme and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Visa programmes will also revised with the March 2018 changes. The main changes are:

  • The nominated occupation must be on the Medium to Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
  • Employers will be required to pay the Australian market rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Threshold (TSMIT)
  • The permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from 2 to 3 years, with at least 3 years’ work experience in the occupation required
  • Maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application (exemptions apply)
  • Sponsors will be required to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) at the time of Nomination.

 

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