The recently announced permanent residency pathway for Short Term Stream (subclass 482) and grandfathered Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa will have a positive impact for business owners facing genuine skills shortages and skilled foreign workers wanting to stay in Australia.
However, these subclass 186 permanent residency visa changes have also left employers and visa holders with burning questions.
In this blog, The Migration Agency’s (TMA) Managing Director, Sarah Thapa, answers the most common questions about the new permanent residency pathway associated with the subclass 482/457 visas, and what employers and visa holders can expect when the changes take effect in July.
Frequently asked questions: Subclass 482 visa changes and the new permanent residency pathway
What are the details of the new permanent residency pathway for the 482/457 visa?
The permanent residency pathway will come into existence from July 1, 2022 for certain Short Term Stream 482 and grandfathered Temporary Work Skilled (Subclass 457) visa holders.
This includes skilled workers who remained in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic between February 1, 2020 and December 14, 2021.
The permanent residency pathway has become available via the subclass 186 visa Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream.
What is the criteria to apply for permanent residency under the Short Term Stream (subclass 482) visa?
In order for sponsored subclass 457/482 visa holders to access this permanent residency pathway, the following requirements must be met:
- The applicant holds or has held a subclass 457 visa that was applied for before April 18, 2017 and subsequently granted, OR
- Is a subclass 482 visa holder (or holds a bridging visa associated with the subclass 482 visa application) who is nominated in an occupation that is currently on the short term skilled occupation list AND the visa applicant must have been in Australia for a cumulative period of 12 months between February 1, 2020 and December 14, 2021.
What is the qualifying employment experience period for permanent residency under this pathway?
A visa holder that meets the requirements above, may be able to access employer-sponsored permanent residency through the subclass 186 Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) Stream, where they have completed either:
- Two years of full-time employment in the last three years with the business, while holding the subclass 457 visa, OR
- Three years of full-time employment in the last four years with the business, while holding the subclass 482 visa.
Are there any job types on the subclass 482 visa that are not eligible for permanent residency?
All Short Term Stream occupations are eligible for this pathway, however, the pathway does not have a regional occupation list, so those occupations are not eligible.
Does the employment experience period have to be a consecutive three-year period with the same organisation?
The period needs to be three in the last four years. For example, if a person works for a company for two years, they have a sabbatical, leave the company and then come back to work for that company for another year, and they can do all of that in four years, then cumulatively they have completed the required employment experience of three years in four-year period, and they can qualify.
What happens if a skilled worker is promoted to a management role in the same company?
This is a good question. It depends on whether the promotion still classifies as working in the same occupation as the original visa grant states. If it is a substantial change to their duties, it’s potentially a change in occupation, and a change in occupation means they won’t meet the three-year qualifying period until they work for three years in the managerial occupation.
It’s important to contact a specialist immigration, such as The Migration Agency, if you have employees in a similar situation.
What happens when an employee can’t gain the required three years employment experience with the one organisation?
If a person has not gained three years’ experience with one employer, they can’t apply for this permanent residency pathway. Subclass 482 visa holders must have worked for a period of three years with an employer sponsor before they can qualify, unless they are a grandfathered subclass 457 visa holder where they need two years of employment experience to be eligible.
There are some concessions if their work was not full-time hours or at full pay, but if someone was laid off or ceased work for their employer then they cannot apply until they work for the new employer for three years.
What happens if a visa holder changes employers but remains in the same sponsored occupation for three years?
As soon as you change employers, the three-year period starts again with the new employer sponsor.
Will subclass 482 visa holders have their visa extended so they can apply for permanent residency after three years with the same employer?
There is no provision for an extension for the subclass 482 visa; the visa will need to be renewed if it is expiring before July 1, 2022. That means a new subclass 482 visa would be required to maintain a person’s visa status, work rights and eligibility to access employer-sponsored permanent residency through the subclass 186 visa under the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) Stream.
Visa holders who are on their second 482 visa in the Short Term Stream will be able to apply for a third 482 visa while onshore. This concession is available from July 1, 2022 until June 30, 2023.
What happens if a subclass 482 visa is due for renewal before July 1, 2022 and a person has more than three years employment experience?
We understand that it will be a criteria that the person holds a subclass 482 visa to apply for the subclass 186 visa under this new permanent residency pathway. A person will need to maintain a subclass 482 visa to qualify.
The program only opens after July 1, 2022, so even if that person has already done a full three years employment experience prior to this date, they will need to maintain a subclass 482 visa until this pathway opens.
Is this new legislation only for the subclass 186 visa through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream? Does the Direct Entry Stream remain the same?
This permanent residency pathway for Short Term Stream subclass 482 visa holders is only available through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) Stream. The TRT Stream is for people who qualify by working for the same employer for three years on a subclass 482 visa (or two years on a grandfathered 457 visa).
The Direct Entry stream doesn’t have the same qualifying period of employment as the subclass 482 visa, there are other criteria that apply, for example, a person has to have a positive skills assessment and they need three years of employment experience more generally.
There is no direct entry pathway for short term occupations, it’s only under the TRT Stream that people can apply.
What are the processing times for the subclass 482 visa?
We have seen subclass 482 visa processing times slowdown post-pandemic due to a backlog in applications. Processing times will depend on whether it is a short-term, medium-term or long-term occupation. However, for medium to long-term occupations, we are quoting between 4-8 weeks and up to eight weeks for short-term occupations.
The processing times on the Department of Home Affairs website give an indication, depending on the specific subclass 482 visa application.
What are the processing times for the subclass 186 visa (permanent residency)?
Permanent residency time frames vary depending on the sponsorship status of the business, the occupation and other factors. We are seeing permanent residency applications being processed in a matter of months at the moment.
What about medium-term skilled visa holders who got to Australia before the pandemic and have been here for over two years?
There is no change for medium to long-term skilled visa holders. Medium-term skilled visa holders continue to have their usual permanent residency pathways.
This permanent residency pathway is for short-term skilled visa holders who were unable to apply for permanent residency after the 2017-18 overhaul of the Employer Sponsored Visa program.
How long will this new permanent residency pathway be available for?
This legislation is in place temporarily; it was enacted through a legislative instrument which can cease at any time. We understand from the Department that the pathway will be available for two years, that is, from July 1, 2022 until June 30, 2024.
In many cases, visa applicants may not have held a subclass 482 visa with the same employer during the pandemic. They can only apply if they can achieve the three-year qualifying period before June 30, 2024.
The Migration Agency will share more information on this new pathway as it comes to hand.
Get in touch if you have questions about this new permanent residency pathway
If you have questions about the subclass 482/457 visa changes that are specific to your current circumstance and you would like to know how this new permanent residency pathway will benefit your organisation, please contact our highly skilled people at The Migration Agency for an eligibility assessment. Contact us here.