Impact of Employer Sponsored Changes

1. Current 457 Visa Applicants

If your 457 application has not yet been lodged or is pending, you will be affected by the changes in the occupations list.
This would cover both:

Occupations removed from the new list (the STSOL); and
Occupations with caveats such as minimum salary, minimum work experience, position details and size/nature of business

If your application is pending and you are in one of the affected occupations, you are likely to receive correspondence from Immigration asking if you are able to meet the new requirements.
You may need to then provide further documentation or your employer may need to increase your base salary.

If you are unable to meet the new requirements, you have the option of either withdrawing your application or having it refused.

You may be able to re-lodge, and it may be better to lodge in a different nominated occupation.

Alternatively, you may consider applying for an RSMS visa which has a wider range of occupations. The caveats on salary level, business size and position only apply to 457 visas, and you may be eligible for an ENS visa which is not subject to the same caveats.

2. Current ENS Applicants

If you have lodged your ENS application prior to 19th of April and is still in process, you will not be affected by the changes to the occupations list.
If you are looking at applying for an ENS visa through the Direct Entry Stream, you will be unable to apply if your occupation has been removed from the list.

If you are currently on a 457 visa and considering applying for an ENS visa through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, you will not be affected by the changes immediately. You should apply without delay to avoid the impact of future changes.

3. Current 457 Holders

The announced changes do not directly affect the work rights or visa duration for current 457 holders. However, there are consequences 457 holders should be aware of:
Changing Employer

If your occupation has been removed or has caveats, this will impact on you changing employer because a new nomination would need to be lodged.
Extending your 457 Visa

If you are wish to extend your 457 visa, this would involve a new application and you would need to be aware of the following:
If your occupation has been removed from the list or is subject to caveats, you may not be able to extent
If your occupation is on the STSOL but not the MLTSSL, your 457 extension would be only valid for 2 years. Future changes may mean you can only extend once
Applying for Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

If your occupation is on the STSOL but not the MLTSSL, you may no longer be eligible for ENS after March 2018 (see below).
You may also need to work for your employer for 3 years rather than the current 2 years if applying for the ENS Temporary Residence Transition Stream – it is not yet clear when this change will come into effect.

4. Future 457 Applicants

The 457 visa will be abolished from March 2018. The 457 will be replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortages (TSS) visa from this date.
The TSS visa will have higher requirements than the current 457 visa – in particular:

Minimum of 2 years work experience
Labour Market Testing for most applicants
Higher English for 4-year visas

If you are likely to be affected by these changes, you should lodge your 457 visa application prior to March 2018.
5. Future ENS Applicants

Immigration has indicated that they will be making changes to the ENS program over the next 12 months.
In particular, you will no longer be eligible for either the Direct Entry or Temporary Residence Transition Stream unless you have an occupation on the shorter MLTSSL. You will also need a higher level of English and will need at least 3 years of work experience. The current age limit will also reduce from 49 to 44.

If you are currently eligible for an ENS visa, you should lodge without delay to avoid the impact of these changes. This is particularly for people who have an occupation on the STSOL which is not on the MLTSSL (which is most occupations) and older applicants who are between 45 and 49.

6. Future RSMS Applicants

RSMS applicants are currently not affected by the changes to the occupations lists. The RSMSOL is still the same, and covers a wider range of occupations than the STSOL.
Future changes will also require a higher level of English, minimum of 3 years of work experience and a reduced age limit. It is not yet clear, but there may also be a significant reduction in the number of eligible occupations.

If you are currently eligible for an RSMS visa, you should apply without delay to avoid the future changes.

Posted in ENS

Changes to Australian Citizenship

The Australian Government has announced changes to Australian citizenship requirements which are effective 20 April 2017.

The changes will require:

That applicants hold their Australian permanent residence for longer
Formal English language testing
A revised Citizenship test
Evidence that applicants show that they have integrated into Australian society
This article explains the changes and gives guidance for people affected by the changes.
Changes to General Residence Requirement

Applicants for citizenship by conferral would generally need to show that they meet the “General Residence” requirement.
This would mean showing that they have been present in Australia for at least:

The last 4 years, on any temporary, permanent or bridging visa, with a maximum of 12 months overseas; and
The last 12 months, on a permanent visa, with a maximum of 3 months overseas
Previously, it was possible to count time spent in Australia on a temporary visa or bridging visa towards the 4-year requirement in (1) above.
The announced changes would require that applicants hold a permanent visa for 4 years before applying. This would potentially require applicants to wait a further 3 years before applying for Australian citizenship.

Who Will Be Most Affected?

It is quite common for people to spend a significant amount of time in Australia on temporary or bridging visas ahead of obtaining permanent residence. Examples would include:
International students who complete studies in Australia ahead of applying for General Skilled Migration
457 visa holders who work for their employer in Australia for several years, then apply for permanent residence through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
Partner visa applicants who first obtain a temporary partner visa, then qualify for a permanent partner visa 2 years after lodging their initial partner visa application
Are There Exceptions to the Residence Requirement?

There are concessions to the general residence requirement currently in the Citizenship Act – these include:
Partners of Australian citizens – in this case time spent outside Australia can be counted towards the residence requirement, providing you hold a permanent visa at the time
Significant hardship – time spent in Australia on a temporary visa can be considered towards the requirement for holding a permanent visa, if otherwise significant hardship would result

You can also apply under the Special Residence pathway – this would generally require that you are supported by an Australian sporting agency, have completed defence service or need to travel regularly due to your employment. For the employment pathway, only certain types of work can be considered, including:
a member of the crew of a ship or aircraft;
work on a resources installation or a sea installation;
CEO or Executive Manager of an S&P/ASX All Australian 200 listed company;
Scientists employed by a university, CSIRO or medial research institute
Medical specialists internationally renowned in their field
Writer or person engaged in the visual or performing arts and who is the holder of, or has held, a Distinguished Talent Visa.
When do the Changes come into Effect?

The Department of Immigration citizenship eligibility page has been updated and indicates that the residence requirements come into effect as of 20 April 2017.
However, it also notes that the legislation to bring the changes into effect has not yet been passed by Parliament. The Government has indicated that the legislation will be put to Parliament by the end of 2017, and it is possible that it will take some time for the legislation to be passed.

If the legislation is not passed by Parliament, then the previous rules would continue to be in effect.

If the legislation is passed by Parliament, it is likely to be retrospective and affect applications lodged on or after 20 April 2017. Pending applications which don’t meet the 4-year permanent residence requirement are likely to be put on hold and processed once the legislation is passed.

What are my Options if I’m Affected by the Changes?

Option 1 – Lodge Now

If you meet the previous General Residence requirement for Australian citizenship, you have the option of still proceeding with lodgement. The online lodgement system is not currently available, so you would need to lodge a paper application.
If the legislation is not passed, your application might then be successful.

If the legislation is passed, your application is likely to be refused. This would not affect your the permanent visa you hold. You would lose the application fee of $285, but would not have any other adverse consequences.

Another possibility would be that the legislation is passed, but does not come into effect retrospectively. In this case, there would be an advantage to lodging ahead of the legislation being introduced to Parliament.

If considering this option, we would recommend you do this without delay as it’s possible Immigration will stop accepting paper applications to close this application pathway.

Option 2 – Wait Until Legislative Process is Completed

As the legislation is not yet passed, you could wait until it is clear whether the legislation will come into effect or not.
At the moment, it is not clear that the Government has the numbers in the lower house to pass the legislation.

Even if it is passed, it may need to be amended to get it through Parliament.

This option gives the greatest certainty, but requires you to keep a close eye on developments.

Option 3 – Apply Based on one of the Concessions to the Residence Requirement

This may be possible if you can show significant hardship or that you are required to travel due to your employment.
Option 4 – Wait Until You Meet the 4-Year Permanent Residence Requirement

This may require you to wait up to an additional 3 years, during which time you may need to spent the majority of your time in Australia.
Changes to English Requirement

Applicants will need to show Competent English when applying for Australian citizenship going forward – this will require many applicants to do an English test. English testing was not previously required.
Competent English would require a score of 6 in each band of IELTS, or one of the alternative tests of English.

Passport holders from the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and New Zealand are usually exempt from English language testing in demonstrating competent English – we would expect this to also apply to the citizenship requirement.

English tests are usually valid for 3 years – we would hope that applicants who have previously done an English test for their permanent residence application would be exempt for English language testing.

Integration Requirement

According to the discussion paper, applicants will need to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community by providing documentation on their integration into Australian society.
This is likely to include providing evidence that you are:

Working, are actively looking for work or seeking to educate yourself
Actively involved in community or voluntary organisations
Properly paying your taxes
Ensuring your children are attending school

If there is evidence of the following, your application might be refused:
Criminal records
Breaching social security laws
Family Violence including any AVOs
Involvement in gangs and organised crime
Applicants previously needed to show that they were of good character, but the changes give Immigration more discretion to refuse applicants who are not sufficiently integrated into Australian society.
Citizenship Test

A new citizenship test will be developed which tests Australian values more thoroughly.
Applicants will be able to attempt the test a maximum of 3 times. If a person is found to be cheating on the test, this will result in an automatic fail.

The current citizenship test has a low faiure rate. The most important aspect of this change will be to reinforce Australian values and make the importance of integration into the Australian community more clear.

Can I Do Anything to Prevent the Change Happening?

There is a discussion paper on the proposed changes to Australian citizenship.
If you are going to be affected, we would recommend that you make a submission to Submissions close on 1 June 2017.

Summary of 457, 186 and 187 changes.

Summary of 457, 186 and 187 changes.
Any 457 sponsorship, nomination or visa applications that are NOT listed in the relevant Instrument IMMI 17/040 (check any notes against your occupation) and NOT decided by 18th April 2017 will no longer be able to be approved. Refund of DIBP application fees may be available.
Any new 457 applications lodged from 19 April 2017 onwards will have to have their occupation on the STSOL or MLTSSL occupation lists.
If you are granted a 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the STSOL list, it can only be granted for 2 years. There will be one (only) further extension allowed after that for another 2 years. You will not be allowed to apply for a permanent 186/187 visa under that occupation if it is on the STSOL.
If you are granted a 457 visa after 18 April 2017 off the MLTSSL list, it can be granted for 4 years. You will be able to be apply for a permanent 186/187 visa after 3 years on a 457 visa if that company decides to nominate you.
From March 2018 the new TSS visa will have replaced the 457 visa. You will need to have 2 years work experience before applying and your occupation will have to be on the STSOL or MLTSSL lists. If you are on the STSOL list you will also have to show you only want to stay in Australia temporarily.
From March 2018 you need to have your occupation on the MLTSSL occupation list to apply for company/employer sponsored permanent residence. You will also need to commit to working for the company for 3 years, have an IELTS of 6+ and be under 45 years of age.
Some consequences of this:
1.Occupations such as cook and restaurant manager are on the STSOL list. While you can still be sponsored for 2 years by a restaurant on the 457 visa and gain another 2 year extension, you can no longer apply for a permanent visa unless it is added to the MLTSSL list for you being in a designated regional area.
2. Retail manager is still available in regional areas for the 187 visa at the moment. But from March 2018 this will not be the case, as this occupation is not on the MLTSSL list.
3. Most student graduates will not be eligible for temporary or permanent company sponsorship after March 2018 as you require at least 2 years FULL-TIME WORK EXPERIENCE first.
The Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration confirmed that existing 457 visa holders (as of 18 April 2017) will still be able to apply for a Permanent visa and will not be affected by these changes. (See article)
Timeline of future 457 changes are:
from 19 April 2017 – 216 occupations removed and 59 others restricted, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed, validity period for occupations on STSOL 2 years.
from 01 July 2017 – English salary exemption $96,400 to be removed, training benchmarks to be changed, mandatory penal clearance certificates.
before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.
from March 2018 – 457 visa abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term(2 years) and Medium-Term stream(4 years).
Timeline of future 186/187 changes are:
from 19 April 2017 – CSOL condensed, 216 occupations removed, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed as STSOL and MLTSSL.
from 01 July 2017 – review of STSOL and MLTSSL, IELTS 6 required in each component, changes in age (DE stream 45 years old, no change to TRT).
before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.
from March 2018 – the MLTSSL will apply to ENS/RSMS with additional regional occupations, Market salary rate will apply and meet TSMIT, eligibility period for PR extended from 2 to 3 years, at least 3 years’ work experience required, under 45 years of age, contribution towards training fund.


Strengthening the integrity of Australian citizenship

Joint Media Release with the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister – Strengthening the integrity of Australian citizenship

The Turnbull Government will strengthen Australian citizenship by putting Australian values at the heart of citizenship processes and requirements.

Our reforms will ensure applicants are competent in English, have been a permanent resident for at least four years and commit to embracing Australian values.

Australia is an immigration nation. We are the most successful multicultural society in the world. More than 130,000 people from around 210 countries are invited to become Australian citizens each year. We welcome the contribution, opportunities and energy they bring to our community.

Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be granted to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia.

Citizenship is at the heart of our national identity. It is the foundation of our democracy. We must ensure that our citizenship program is conducted in our national interest. The reforms will include:

  • Requiring all applicants to pass a stand-alone English test, involving reading, writing, listening and speaking;
  • Requiring applicants to have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years (instead of one year at present);
  • Strengthening the citizenship test itself with new and more meaningful questions that assess an applicant’s understanding of – and commitment to – our shared values and responsibilities;
  • Requiring applicants to show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community. Examples would include evidence of employment, membership of community organisations and school enrolment for all eligible children.
  • Limiting the number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship test to three (at present there is no limit to the number of times an applicant can fail the test);
  • Introducing an automatic fail for applicants who cheat during the citizenship test.

In our democracy, the most important title is “Australian citizen”. Citizenship brings with it great privileges and responsibilities and so deserves respect and commitment from those who seek it, as well as those who are granted it.

Those who choose to become Australian citizens are making a solemn commitment to our democracy, to our way of life. And that commitment, made by 5 million since 1949, has helped secure and enrich our nation.

English language proficiency is essential for economic participation. It promotes integration into the Australian community and social cohesion. Relevant exemptions will apply, such as for permanent or enduring incapacity and for those under 16 years of age.

Any conduct that is inconsistent with Australian values will be considered as part of this process. For example, criminal activity, including violence against women and children, involvement in gangs or organised crime, is thoroughly inconsistent with Australian values.

These changes have been informed by the feedback received from the National Consultation on Citizenship, conducted by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and the Hon Philip Ruddock MP in 2015 and the 2016 Productivity Commission Report Migrant Intake into Australia.

The new requirements will apply to all new applications for Australian citizenship.

See: Index of Media Releases


Last update: Thursday, 20 April 2017

457 Visa to be Abolished – Replaced by Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa from March 2018

The 457 Visa is to be abolished from March 2018, and replaced by a new temporary work visa called the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa.

This initiative was announced on Facebook by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Some information on the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa are now available on the Department of Immigration website.

Changes to the occupations list for 457 visas will come into effect from 19 April 2017 – with some sources suggesting that up to 200 occupations will be removed from the approved list.

The changes will also impact on people applying for permanent residence through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa.

New Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

There is some information on the requirements for the new temporary work visa replacing the 457 visa.
The main points are as follows:

Occupations List

From 19 April 2017, a shorter list of occupations will be allowed for the 457 visa – some sources suggest that up to 200 occupations will be cut.
We would expect that the shorter list would also apply to the new TSS visa.

A change to the approved list for 457 visas could also impact on the ENS direct entry visa, the Occupational Trainee Stream of the Training Subclass 407 visa, and state nominated General Skilled visas (ie the Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 and Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 visa).

Work Experience

A minimum of 2 years of work experience will be required to meet the requirement for the visa. The skill level for a 457 visa can currently be met without any work experience, providing the applicant has relevant qualifications.
This change will impact significantly on those without work experience in the occupation – particularly international students completing studies in Australia.

Labour Market Testing

Labour Market Testing would require employers to show that they have advertised the position to be filled and show that a local is not available to fill the position.
Currently, Labour Market Testing is only required when nominating trade occupations, nursing or engineering occupations for a 457 visa. The announcement indicates that Labour Market Testing will be required in all cases when applying for a TSS visa, except when exempted by international trade agreements.

If Labour Market Testing is required in most cases when applying for a TSS visa, this could significantly delay lodgement of the visa application – particularly important when filling an urgently required role or where the applicant’s visa is expiring.

Visa Period

There will be 2 streams for the TSS visa – a short-term stream of 2-years and a medium-term stream of 4-years.
The short-term stream can only be renewed only once.

The medium-term stream is likely to have higher requirements (eg English language ability, shorter occupations list) and can be renewed or may also lead to a permanent visa.

Police Clearances

Police clearances will be required for the TSS visa. Depending on the country of residence, these can take several months to come through. Police clearances are not required for 457 visas, unless the applicant has a criminal record.
Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas

Changes have also been outlined for permanent employer sponsored visas – this would potentially affect both the ENS and RSMS visas. It is not yet clear when these changes would come into effect – most likely this would be March 2018.
Likely changes include:

Work Experience: 3 years of work experience will be required to apply for permanent employer sponsored visas in general.
Transition from 457: for the ENS and RSMS Temporary Residence Transition stream, applicants must currently show that they have worked for their employer on a 457 visa for 2 years. 3 years of work for the employer on a TSS will be required going forward
Age: applicants for permanent employer sponsored visas will need to be under 45 when applying. Currently, it is possible to apply for ENS and RSMS up to the age of 50, and a few concessions exist to waive the age requirement. This change would have a significant impact on older applicants.
Regional Concessions

The announcement indicates that certain concessions will be retained for regional employers. These may include:
Occupations List for Temporary and Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas: a wider range of occupations may be possible for both the 457/TSS and RSMS visas for regional employers.
Age Exemptions for Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas: age waivers are currently possible for the ENS and RSMS visa for certain occupations – this includes medical practitioners, academics and staff at Government scientific agencies. These concessions will be retained for regional employers, and might also be expanded

SkillSelect and State Nomination Update April 2017

More popular occupations filled or are almost full for the 2016-17 program year in the last SkillSelect invitation round.

There are also updates for South Australia and Western Australia state nomination criteria.

This article explains the most recent changes.

SkillSelect Update – March 2017

The results of the 29 March SkillSelect round have been published.
The occupational group ICT Business and System Analysts is now full. Accountants and Software and Analyst Programmers are over 99% full, with most other pro-rata occupations likely to be filled by the end of April.

Once these occupations are full, no further invitations can be issued for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa or Skilled Regional (Provisional) Subclass 489 family sponsored stream until 1 July 2017 when the program re-opens.

This will most likely result in a backlog of EOIs in these occupations. Unless occupational ceilings are increased, we can expect minimum points or waiting times for invitations to increase when the program reopens.

New occupational ceilings are due to be published in July 2017, and will be important in understanding how many points will be required in pro rata occupations going forward.

Occupation/Subclass Points Required Waiting Time Invitations – 15 Mar Running Total Target Places Remaining % Filled
Accountants 70 22 weeks 196 2492 2500 8 99.70%
Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasurers 70 13 weeks 110 1375 1413 38 97.30%
ICT Business and System Analysts 70 Next round 42 1482 1482 0 100%
Software and Applications Programmers 65 3 weeks 450 5648 5662 14 99.80%
Electronics Engineer 60 15 weeks 58 937 1000 63 93.70%
ndustrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers 65 19 weeks 34 1501 1539 38 97.50%
Other Engineering Professionals 65 12 weeks 0 1018 1000 0 101.80%
Computer Network Professionals 65 8 weeks 0 1482 1426 0 103.90%

State Nomination Update – South Australia

South Australia has announced that its high points scorer pathway will now requires 85 points, rather than 80 which was previously the case. The high points scorer pathway allows applicants to apply for SA state nomination if their occupation is on the Supplementary List or with “Special Conditions Apply” classification.
The high points scorer change will come into effect on 19 April 2017 – applications lodged prior to this date will not be affected, so please contact us if you would like assistance with applying prior to the cut-off date.

Certain occupations are no longer be eligible for the high points scorer or chain migration exemptions – this includes the following occupations:

221111 Accountant (General)
223111 Human Resource Adviser
225113 Marketing Specialist
225412 Sales Representative (Medical and Pharmaceutical Products)
242111 University Lecturer
242112 University Tutor
251511 Hospital Pharmacist
251513 Retail Pharmacist
This change came into effect on 5 April 2017. The chain migration exemption also allows applicants with relatives in South Australia to apply for SA state nomination in occupations which are on the Supplementary List or with “Special Conditions Apply” classification.
State Nomination Update – Western Australia

Western Australia suspended its state nomination program in March 2017 pending review of the WASMOL.
The WA program is now re-opened but is open only to certain medical practitioners and sonographers.

A revised list is due to be released in late May 2017.