Cutting through the fog: 457 visa changes explained
You must have heard about the changes in the 457-visa program and its implications. Much confusion reigns due to several changes and since less knowledge is worse than no knowledge, let me explain all the things in a detailed manner.
To begin with, because the occupation list and caveats are in effect from April 19, 2017, any 457 application that has not been finalised and has nominated an occupation on any of the lists must be able to fulfil these additional requirements. It is harsh, but this is how it is. Caveats apply to all 457 visa and nomination applications which:
- are lodged on or after April 19, 2017;
- were lodged before April 19, 2017 and have not yet been decided by the Department
Those who have already been granted their 457 visas will not be affected. Unfortunately, those who applied before April 19, 2017, but have not yet been granted their visa will still be affected by the changes.
Such pending applications that are based on a removed occupation will not be successful. Applicants will need to withdraw their applications and will receive a refund on the application fees.
For those people here on a 457 visa at the moment, there will be a “grandfathering” arrangement and they will continue under the conditions of that visa.
However, visa holders should note the changes to the English language and skills requirements if they plan to change employment, change their occupation or seek a further subclass 457 visa.
Here is the breakdown of all the changes:
Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS visa)
The Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa will be replaced with the completely new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.
The occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa have been significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted.
The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) is renamed as Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment.
The other occupations list used for skilled migration, the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) is renamed as Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).
The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two years with an optional two-year extension allowed only once.
Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years.
The two-year short-term visa program will offer no prospect of permanent residency. The four-year medium-term visa holders will be able to apply for permanent residency.
The four-year visas will require a higher standard of English language skills; a minimum of IELTS 5 (or equivalent test) in each test component. English language exemption salary threshold, which exempted applicants whose salary was over $96,400 from the English language requirement, will be removed.
Policy settings about the training benchmark requirement will be made clearer in legislative instruments. Training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers will be strengthened. Please ensure that your clients keep meeting this obligation (training benchmark A or B) as this is expected to be more carefully monitored.
Provision of penal clearance certificates will become mandatory.
Two-year work experience will be required for both visas.
In majority of cases, mandatory Labour market testing will be required, unless an international obligation applies. Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold requirements. A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers.
$1150 for two-year visa and $2400 for four-year visas apply
Applications already lodged:
457 visa applicants that had lodged their application on or before 18 April 2017 with an occupation that has been removed from the STSOL, and whose application has not yet been decided, may be eligible for a refund of their visa application fee. Nominating businesses for these applications may also be eligible for a refund of related fees.
As always, you can contact me or the team at Migration Centre of Australia for further understanding and clarity about how the changes may affect sponsorship, nomination and visa applications.