The Turnbull government has fully reversed a regulation that effectively doubled the income requirements for visa sponsors.

The Coalition has officially scrapped its changes to so-called Assurance of Support visa sponsorship rules, weeks after a government backdown was negotiated to prevent a Senate defeat.

Social services minister Dan Tehan tabled the documents in parliament on Wednesday to complete the reversal, less than two months after the changes were introduced.

The government struck a deal with the Greens to restore the old rules when it became apparent the party had enough support from Labor and the crossbench to defeat the changes on the floor of the parliament.

The new requirements were brought in at the beginning of April and meant residents needed much higher salaries to bring their parents to Australia on a visa.

An individual trying to sponsor their two parents would need to prove they earn an annual income of $86,607, up from around $45,000 under the previous rules.

While the rules were in place for a number of weeks, the minister agreed that anyone who applied in that window would be reassessed under the old rules.

Greens senator Nick McKim thanked the minister for “engaging” on the issue and welcomed the “change of heart”.

“No doubt the government could see the writing on the wall, in terms of the Senate being prepared to support our motion,” he told a news channel earlier this month.

The reversal came following weeks of backlash from migrant communities, with the Chinese community in particular launching a sophisticated petition campaign.

Reporting from various media channels demonstrated the changes would have impacted tens of thousands of migrants on Australia’s long waiting list for visas who were still being vetted by the Home Affairs department.

The coalition is putting the early squeeze on foreign workers

The 457 visa for temporary workers won’t be officially abolished until March 1, but the number granted has already fallen by more than a third – heralding a squeeze on foreign workers by the coalition.

Australian National University researcher Henry Sherrell has found the number of primary 457 visas granted in the 2017 September quarter was down by 35.7 per cent on the same period of 2016.

And the dive was not because some jobs – most famously, “goat farmer” – have been ruled ineligible. In a paper published by the Parliamentary Library, the ANU Development Policy Centre research officer reports only a fifth of the decline in 457s came from the scrapped occupations.

Eight of the top 10 occupations for primary 457 visas had significant double-digit declines. Developer programmers were down by 42 per cent to 350 in the quarter, ICT business analysts plunged 49 per cent to 238, resident medical officers dropped 18 per cent to 436 and the top 457 job, cook, was off 29 per cent to 452.

Given the near-record employment growth last year, the sharp reduction in 457s appears to have nothing to do with demand for labour, but a response by employers and would-be employees to hiring and gaining permanent residency being made more difficult and expensive.

The size of the fall and the breadth of occupations to experience it during a period of very fast employment growth should raise some interesting questions about the nature of the Australian workforce and how 457s have been used.

From March 1, the 651 occupations eligible for 457 visas will be formally replaced by 435 occupations eligible for Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa, which comes in two flavours: a two-year visa that can be extended only once and offers no pathway to permanent residency; and a four-year visa that can lead to permanent residency. There are only 183 occupations eligible for the four-year visa.

The possibility of permanent residency seems to make an immediate difference to applications. Sherrell notes that while cook 457s plunged, visas granted to chefs rose slightly. Chefs are in the pot for four-year visas, cooks are left in the two-year pan.

“The increase in chefs could reflect genuine growth in employer demand for chefs,” Sherrell writes. “However, it may also reflect employers who previously nominated cooks now nominating chefs as this is a more advantageous occupation for migrants and employers given visa conditions. If the job being performed in the business has not changed, this might be called ‘occupational inflation’, as employers upgrade their occupations to take advantage of more beneficial immigration policy settings.”

Visa requirements tighten further from March. For the shorter TSS, applicants will need at least two year’s work experience – wiping out many of the foreign students and backpackers that have been transitioning. Employers will be subject to greater scrutiny, higher visa costs and a new training levy. There are stricter English language requirements and a lower maximum age for the four-year visas.

Sherrill notes a lack of other useful data on 457s, such as salary figures and the number of applications that are rejected, and warns that isolating the effects of specific policy change is difficult amidst multiple factors, but he suggests the eligibility changes could further reduce demand for TSS visas.

Before anyone gets too excited thinking fewer overseas workers will mean higher wages, Sherrell’s isn’t the only interesting paper to consider. Slate.com reports an American study that has relevance here on why workers aren’t getting decent wage rises despite jobs growth and falling unemployment.

The study suggests it’s not so much a matter of an excess of workers holding down wages, but a shortage of employers.  The idea is that in various geographical areas and fields, hiring is concentrated among a relatively small number of businesses resulting in a monopsony problem – a lack of competition among employers.

“Monopsony is essentially monopoly’s quieter, less appreciated twin sibling,” Slate explains. “A monopolist can fix prices because it’s the only seller in the market. A monopsonist, on the other hand, can pay whatever it likes for labour or suppliers, because it’s the only company buying or hiring.”

Given the limited number of players in key Australian industries, it’s not impossible to think monopsony develops whereby it’s not in those players’ interests to compete too hard for workers, or to at least not compete on price.

Meanwhile, back at the 457s, Sherrell says there’s a lack of analysis of the changes but cites an August report by the Australian Population Research Institute’s Bob Birrell – a campaigner against present migration levels.

Birrell called the 457 changes “the first serious sign that either major political party is prepared to tackle the immigration issue”.

“Make no mistake about the significance of the rest,” he wrote. “When fully in place from March 2018, the flagship ENS (employer nomination scheme for permanent residency) program will fall to less than a third of its recent size of 48,250. The number of TSS visas will also fall sharply relative to the current number of 457 visas being granted.”

Birrell expects further reforms by the government to make their immigration policy change more obvious to the public.

The apparent contradiction here is that while fewer 457/TSS visas would mean a relatively small reduction in the number of people in the country, there’s been no sign of a change in the permanent visa quota of 190,000, plus humanitarian admissions. Family reunions – mainly spouses – get 60,000 places and skilled migrants and their families the rest.

Whether the 130,000 should come as “newbies” based on their qualifications or those given a trial run through temporary work is a matter of further debate.  The Productivity Commission has argued that temporary workers here should not be given an advantage in the selection process, but the Lowy Institute’s Peter Mares makes a casefor the two-step temporary-to-permanent pathway having significant benefits for productivity because it facilitates better matching of skills to positions.

“Before the introduction of 457 visas, skilled migrants would often be granted a permanent visa before arrival in Australia,” Mares wrote. “Visas would be issued under the points system, which was the government’s attempt to match the annual skilled migration intake to its expectation of the number and types of professionals the economy would need in the year ahead. Migrants would often land in Australia and then search for a job to match their qualifications.

“Frequently, however, they might end up taking a position in which their skills were not well utilised. (We are all familiar with the scenario of engineers driving cabs, for example.) This might have been because government assumptions about the labour market were incorrect, or because those assumptions had been overtaken by a change in business conditions.”

p.s. despite the crackdown on goat farmers and kennel handlers,  the list or eligible skilled occupations for foreigners remains somewhat curious. It includes “journalists and other writers”. Anecdotal evidence would point to no shortage.  At least “federal politicians” doesn’t feature.

Employer Sponsorship (457 Visa) Update

Employer Sponsorship – Update 15 January 2018

Since the Government’s announcement on 19 April 2017 there have been a number of changes to the employer sponsored program, with more to take effect as early as January 2018 and in early March 2018.

The relevant legislation hasn’t been released but, Immigration recently issued their January Skilled Visa E-news to help understand some of these arrangements.

New Occupations Lists from January 2018
Immigration have indicated the changes to employer sponsored occupations lists for temporary and permanent skilled visas will be introduced around 17 January 2018.
We have been advised these changes will not impact undecided applications, providing they were lodged before the change takes effect. Given the severe impact similar changes had to temporary residents last year, this is a welcomed approach.

Further information is expected to be released in the coming days.

457 Visas Replaced by TSS Visas from March 2018
The 457 Visa will be replaced by the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa in early March 2018.
TSS Validity Period
Currently, a 457 visa granted on or after 19 April 2017 is valid for:
Up to 2 years if the nominated occupation is on the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), unless exempt by an international trade obligation), or
Up to 4 years if the nominated occupation is on the Medium to Long-Term Strategic Skilled List (MLTSSL)
This arrangement will continue when the TSS is introduced.

Police Clearances
In July, Immigration introduced the requirement for 457 applicants to provide police clearance certificates for each country they spent more than 12 months in. This will continue with the TSS Visa.
Labour Market Testing
In March 2018, Labour Marketing Testing (LMT) will be required on all TSS applications where international trade obligations don’t apply. Currently, LMT applies when nominating trade, nursing, or engineering occupations.
If LMT is introduced for all cases, this could delay the lodgement of a TSS application and impact the Sponsor’s ability to urgently fill their vacant position.

Further details on the TSS including streamlined initiatives for processing applications will be announced by Immigration in February.

Employer Sponsored Permanent Residence
In March 2018, further changes are planned for employer sponsored permanent residence as outlined in our article 14 November 2017.
In Immigration’s January Skilled Visa E-news they advised the transitional arrangements, or grandfathering provisions, for certain 457 visa holders and 457 applicants as at 18 April 2017, were subject to final approval.

More details are to be announced in February.

Conclusion
Many are unsure whether they should use a Migration Agent to lodge their visa application.
Since 19 April 2017, obtaining an employer sponsored visa has become more complex and slower than was previously the case. More changes are in the pipeline and much of the information circulating about Immigration’s announcements may be confusing.

Employers should also be aware of upcoming changes in January 2018 and March 2018 and where possible, applications should be lodged before these critical dates to ensure that the impact of the changes is minimised.

MY VISA ONLINE can assist with ensuring that an employer sponsored visa is lodged prior to any critical dates. We can also ensure that it is lodged as a “decision ready” application, and so can be processed as quickly as possible.

If you are an employer and would like advice on sponsoring staff, please call our consultant on 03 9670 1010.

If you are looking at your own visa options and want to know more about the changes to employer sponsorship, please book a consultation at MY VISA ONLINE. As always we are HAPPY TO HELP.

Increase to the financial requirements for certain Student Visa applications

This article explains the changes, potential impact on visa applications and why using an expert of your choice may be beneficial.

Increase to the financial requirements for certain Student Visa applications

Sufficient funds for cost of living
In certain instances student visa applications must be submitted with evidence the applicants have sufficient funds available whilst undertaking studies in Australia.
Today, the Department of Home Affairs announced the minimum funds required will increase on 1 February 2018 – the increase will start at around 2.3% and will continue to change in line with Australia’s consumer price index (CPI).

From 1 February 2018:

Main Student or Guardian: $20,290
Partner or Spouse: $7,100
Per Child: $3,040

Conclusion
Many changes to the migration portfolio and the various types of Australian visas have come into effect over the last 6 – 8 months. Some of these changes are still in place and some have been disallowed subsequently reverting back to the original requirements.
More changes to the migration program are scheduled to take place over the coming months and are likely to create a surge in the number of visa applications being lodged before those changes take effect.

With that in mind, this is a timely reminder that the Department of Home Affairs may make decisions on visa applications based on the information submitted and in many instances are not required to ask for further supporting evidence.

In light of the above, the chances of lodging an invalid application and risking your immigration status, or having a visa application refused is a real possibility.

MY VISA ONLINE has many years of experience and is ready and able to assist you to achieve your migration goals.

If you would like to work with us, the best way to proceed is to book a consultation with our advisor. Aside from outlining your migration options in writing, you will be able to judge for yourself what it’s like to work with MY VISA ONLINE and whether we are the right experts for you.

Australian visas: What to expect in 2018?

From implementation of TSS visa, change in Occupation Lists to mandatory provisional visa before permanent residency, take a look at significant changes and what is in pipeline in 2018.

457 visa will be replaced with Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (R) has defended the decision to scrap the 457 visa program.
From March 2018, the current 457 visa program will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.

The TSS visa will be comprised of a Short-Term stream allowing stays of up to two years, and a Medium-Term stream allowing stays of up to four years.

The Short-Term stream visa is renewable only once. The STSOL occupation list will apply for Short-Term Stream applicants.

The Medium-Stream visa holders may renew their visas onshore and may apply for permanent residence pathway after working for three years in Australia. The MLTSSL occupation list will apply for Medium-Stream visa applicants. This stream is relatively similar to the current 457 visa.

Tighter Regulations for both streams:

Increased Work Experience Requirements
Higher English Language Levels Requirements
Mandatory Labour Market Testing
Set Australian Market Salary Rates
Additional Character, Anti-Discrimination and Training Requirements
More information: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/WorkinginAustralia/Documents/abolition-replacement-457.pdf

Changes to Occupation lists in 2018

Skill Migrant
A number of changes were made to the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) in April 2017 and again in July 2017.
Though the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skill List (MLTSSL) is likely to remain the same, the STSOL which is a list of occupations nominated for temporary and short-term visas is likely to see some changes.

Some of the occupations flagged for removal from the Short-term Skilled Occupation List are Accommodation and Hospitality manager, Hair or Beauty Salon Manager, Recruitment Consultant and Building Associate..

University Tutor, Psychotherapist, Property Manager, Real Estate Agent and Real Estate Representative may be added to the list.

It is also likely that Skilled Occupations List will include Airline Pilots in 2018 to address the shortage of pilots in Australia. Following lobbying from the peak body for regional airlines, SBS Hindi reported the Skilled Occupations List will be revised to allow foreign pilots to come to the country on a two-year work visa.

Plans to introduce mandatory provisional visas before permanent residency in Australia and reducing the number of visas from 99 to 10

Getting permanent residency in Australia
The Government undertook public consultation to transform Australia’s visa system in 2017.

The Australian government discussed plans to introduce mandatory provisional visas where migrants may need to spend a certain period of time before they are granted permanent residency and also to reduce the number of visas from 99 to 10 to simplify the process.

The Department received 255 submissions and approximately 184 representatives of industry, academia, community and government participated in roundtables across the country, with an additional 60 industry representatives participating in immigration reform workshops.

In December 2017, the department in a consultation summary said while approximately 55% opposed a provisional period, among those who supported the principle of provisional residence, a provisional period of a minimum of two years was most popular.

88% of the submissions supported visa simplification with suggestions that importance be given to transparency around decision making, reduced processing times and a system that was easier to understand and navigate.

The department though has not set a timeline for its implementation and says, ‘This is a long-term programme of improvement to the way we deliver our services. There is no immediate impact for visa applicants or holders. The first step will be broad consultation with the market on the design and build of a new visa processing platform.’

Temporary sponsored parent visa

parent visa
The image is for representation only.

In the 2017-18 federal budget, a new temporary sponsored parent visa was announced – to be available from November 2017. However, the new visa which will allow migrants’ parents to stay in the country for extended periods has been delayed.

The Bill enabling the new visa to come into effect has not yet been approved by the Senate.

Here are the six must know facts about the new long stay visa for parents.

 

3-year-visa will cost $5000, a 5-year-visa will cost $10,000 and a 10-year-visa will cost $20,000, with the opportunity of a single renewal for another five years at the same price.
15,000 people each year will be granted this long stay parent visa.
Children/Sponsors will be required to pay for their parents’ private health insurance. The children will also need to act as financial guarantor on any extra healthcare costs their parents rack up in Australia.
Those on the new visa will not be allowed to work, however, the government hopes they will take on family roles which would see “reduced pressure on childcare facilities.”
Those sponsoring their parents for the new visa need to be Australian citizens or permanent residents, or “eligible New Zealand citizens”.
The visa-holders would not be allowed to reapply beyond the 10 years and would have no pathway to permanent residency.

Partner Visa
Wedding
Proposed changes to Partner Visa were expected in 2017 but it has been deferred to 2018.

This is because the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 (Cth) (“the Bill”) is still before the Senate and has not been enacted.

If the Bill is enacted, it will establish a sponsorship framework for partner visas, placing more focus on the assessment of sponsors.

In particular:

 

The sponsorship assessment would be separated from the visa application process
Sponsors would need to be approved before visa applications are made
Legal obligations would be imposed on approved sponsors
If sponsors fail to meet their obligations, sanctions may be imposed
In certain circumstances sponsors can be barred from sponsorship

The new regulations propose partner visa sponsorship applications would need to be lodged under stricter criteria and approved before the overseas partner visa application could be lodged.

The new two-step process is expected to delay the lodgement of the overseas partner application and require the overseas partner to have a valid visa until a visa application for the overseas partner can be lodged.

Changes to Apply from March 2018 to ENS and RSMS

The main changes Changes to Apply from March 2018 to ENS and RSMS which will apply from March 2018 are as follows:

Occupations List

Applicants must in general have an occupation on the shorter MLTSSL (Medium Long Term Strategic Skills List) to apply for an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa from March 2018. Extra occupations will be available for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), but it is not yet clear which occupations these will be. If your occupation is not on the MLTSSL, you may no longer be eligible for permanent residence through the ENS or RSMS program from March 2018
Age

Applicants for ENS and RSMS must be under 45 at the date of application from March 2018. Currently, 457 holders applying for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream can be under 50 when applying
Minimum Salary

From March 2018, applicants must have a base salary of at least Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT – currently $53,900) to qualify. There is currently no minimum salary applicable to ENS and RSMS visas.
Work on 457 Visa – TRTS Requirement

Currently 457 holders who have worked for their employer in their position for the last 2 years may be eligible for ENS or RSMS through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRTS). The TRTS is a streamlined pathway which may not require the same skills assessment, age, English language ability and health requirements as the Direct Entry Stream. From March 2018, 3 years of work experience on a 457 will be required instead of the current 2 year requirement
Training Levy

A training levy will be applicable to all ENS and RSMS applications. The amount will depend on the turnover of the sponsoring business and will be $3,000 for small businesses and $5,000 for businesses with turnover of $10 million or more.
Grandfathering Provisions for 457 Holders or Applicants as of 18 April 2017

The Department of Immigration has announced that 457 holders and applicants as of 18 April 2017 will not need to meet all of the new requirements.
These “grandfathered” 457 holders have access to transitional provisions which would preserve their eligibility for ENS and RSMS through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.

To be eligible for the transitional provisions, you must either have:

Held a 457 visa as of 18 April 2017; or
Have a pending 457 visa application as of 18 April 2017, and this application was subsequently granted
Grandfathered applicants will not need to meet all the new requirements when applying for Temporary Residence Transition Stream ENS and RSMS visas from March 2018, and in particular:
Occupation: grandfathered applicants will be able to apply even if their occupation is not on the MLTSSL
Age: they will be able to apply providing they are under 50 years
Work Experience on 457 Visa: they can qualify once they have worked in their occupation for their employer on a 457 visa for 2 years

Grandfathered applicants will still need to meet the requirements for minimum salary (TSMIT) and payment of the training levy from March 2018.
RSMS Postcodes

A new legislative instrument has been released yesterday which specifies the postcodes for RSMS, as well as the Regional Certifying Bodies. The Perth Metropolitan Area is now excluded from the RSMS program, though it is still possible to apply if your position is located in a postcode specified in the instrument.
The instrument comes into effect on 17 November 2017.

Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa – Closure of ACT Migration Program to overseas applicants

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa – Closure of ACT Migration Program to overseas applicants
Effective immediately (23 August 2017 at 9.30 am AEST) the ACT Migration Program is now closed to overseas applicants.
• If your client is living overseas you will not be able to commence an application for ACT nomination of a Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa until the Program reopens in 2018.
• If you have started an application for ACT nomination prior to closure of the program, and the status is ‘in progress’, the application must be submitted, and the service fee paid before 11.59 pm (AEST) Thursday 24 August 2017.
o You must submit a complete application e.g. all supporting documents attached, as additional documentation will not be accepted after lodgement.
o The application must meet ACT nomination criteria as you will not be contacted to provide additional supporting information.
o If the application is not submitted, and the $300 service fee paid by Thursday 24 August 2014 (AEST), the application will automatically lapse.

CLOSE TIES TO CANBERRA
This action does not affect overseas applicants with close ties in Canberra. If your client has close ties (either family or genuine job offer) in Canberra; OR they have completed a PhD at an ACT university, they are still eligible to apply for ACT nomination
CANBERRA RESIDENTS
This action does not affect Canberra based applicants. If your client is living in Canberra and working in a skilled occupation, the program is still open. You are still able to lodge an application for ACT nomination of the Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa if your Canberra based client meets the current nomination criteria.

TAS Sponsorship New Guidelines

 

From 1 July 2017:
 New Category for overseas applicants (489 visa only): A new Category for the
Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) has been introduced for
Tasmanian Government state nomination. Overseas (offshore) applicants will be
eligible to apply under this new Category.
 Changes to eligibility for ‘Category 3 – Family in Tasmania’: Applicants with
eligible family members residing in Tasmania will only be eligible for Skilled Regional
(Provisional) visa (subclass 489) nomination.

From 1 August 2017:
 Labour market testing for ‘Category 2 – Job Offer’ (489 visa only): For Skilled
Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) nomination, employer offering
employment for a position at ANZSCO skill level 4 or below will need to provide
evidence of genuine attempts to recruit workers from the domestic labour market.

From 1 October 2017:
 Three months prior employment requirement for ‘Category 2 – Job Offer’
(BOTH 190 and 489 visas): Onshore applicants with employment in Tasmania will
only be eligible for nomination if they have been working in Tasmania for 3 months
prior to lodging their application for state nomination.
[12:37 PM, 9/13/2017] +61 404 490 111: From 1 January 2018:
 Two year study requirement (190 visa only): Applicants will need to have
completed two years of study at a CRICOS-registered Tasmanian tertiary institution
instead of one year.
 Please refer to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)
Australian study requirement as to what constitutes two years of study. If the
applicant is claiming regional study points with DIBP, they would meet the two year
study requirement.
 One year study requirement remains in place for provisional visa nomination
(489 visa).

TAS Sponsorship New Guidelines

https://www.migration.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/151775/Fact_Sheet_-_Reforms_to_Tasmania_s_state_nomination_policy_-_6_July_2017_-_FINAL.pdf

Keep up with the latest changes and news from Engineers Australia!

Keep up with the latest changes and news from Engineers Australia!

English Language Test
From the 1st of November 2017, Engineers Australia will be accepting the Pearson’s Test of English (PTE) (Academic) for Migration Skills Assessment as well as for Membership assessment purposes. Applicants submitting their application after the 1st of November will be able to use either the IELTS, the TOEFL iBT or the PTE (Academic) to demonstrate their level of English in an assessment application.
Applicants must show a minimum score of 50 in each of the 4 modules (Listening, Writing, Reading and Speaking).

Abolition of the RMA profession? Part 2

 

The bill: Migration Newsletter 630 discussed how the unfair Migration Amendment
(Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2017 could be part of a long-term plan to
abolish the RMA profession.That discussion implied that only some RMAs would be immediately impacted upon
by the bill. Actually, most RMAs could well be immediately impacted upon.
Here is why. Lawyers would no longer be subject to the Code of Conduct for RMAs (Code).
As a result, many lawyers could well be tempted to freely unfoundedly market
themselves as providing superior immigration assistance compared to RMAs.
Even lawyers with no experience in migration law could well be so tempted.

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2017B00136