Employer Sponsorship – Recent Developments Feb 2017

Employer sponsorship has been controversial in recent times and the Department of Immigration continues to make changes.

This article goes through some of the recent trends we have encountered in the 457 and other employer sponsored programs, and also flags some possible changes which may come into effect in 2017.

Cancellations of 457 Visas

Immigration has stepped up its compliance operations and is now much more likely to cancel visas where:
An employee has ceased work; or
In the case of dependent partners, where the relationship has ceased
A typical scenario would be where a spouse relationship has broken down. If this is reported to Immigration, the dependent partner will receive a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation (NOICC). Whilst the partner can put forward reasons for not cancelling the visa, this is happening more often – even if a new visa application has been lodged.
Cessation of employment – 60 rather than 90 Days

Since November 2016, employee who have ceased employment for more than 60 days are considered to be in breach of visa conditions. The 60-day timeframe applies to 457 visa granted on or after 19 November 2016.
The timeframe was previously 90 days, so this means 457 holders have less time now to find a new 457 sponsor if they finish employment.

457 holders who cease employment for more than 60 days are now more likely to face cancellation, so it’s very important to be aware of this if ceasing employment.

Possible Changes to Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)

The Minister for Immigration has indicated on a number of occasions that he is looking to reduce the number of occupations on the approved list for 457 sponsorship, the CSOL.
The Minister has said that this will happen “very soon” but there is no clear timeframe on when this would happen.

The Minister has tasked the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) to review the 457 list and their report is due in the first half of 2017.

If a change is made, the most likely date would be 1 July 2017, but the list could be changed at any time by issuing a new Legislative Instrument.

Possible Increase to Minimum Salary for 457 (TSMIT)

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is the minimum a 457 holder can be paid. The current minimum salary is $53,900 and has been at this level since July 2013.
A review of the TSMIT was commissioned by the Minister in December 2015, and was to report to Government in April 2016. To date, we do not have any information on recommendations, or when they would be implemented.

However a recent report from the Australian Population Research Institute suggests that a large number of IT workers are paid at the lowest possible rate, which suggests an increase might be warranted at least for the IT sector.

ENS/RSMS Processing Times – Impact on Training Requirement

Processing times for the permanent Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme are now 8 months in most cases. Because of the long processing time, we are starting to see Immigration requesting updated training information – for the period between lodgement and prior to grant of the ENS nomination.
As a result, it is more important than ever to ensure that the business complies with its 457 training obligation at all times.

Conclusion

Employer sponsorship continues to be under the spotlight.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-20/government-cutting-457-job-list-for-skilled-migrants/8040548

The Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training reviews the skilled migration program’s Skilled Occupation List each year based on certain criteria e.g., demand and supply or the amount of training needed etc., and flags certain occupations for future removal. Today was the last day for submitting feedback to the Minister for Immigration for consideration in March. The final list will take affect from 1st July next year.

The current list includes 183 occupations and is used to determine the eligibility for Australia’s permanent skilled migration scheme. There is another list which is longer, called the Consolidated Skilled Occupation list, which is for temporary work visas under 457 visa scheme.

Right now, the following occupations have been shortlisted for potential removal from Skilled occupation list.

  • Production Manager (Mining)
  • Accountant (General)
  • Management Accountant
  • Taxation Accountant
  • Actuary
  • Land Economist
  • Valuer
  • Ship’s Engineer
  • Ship’s Master
  • Ship’s Officer
  • Surveyor
  • Cartographer
  • Other Spatial Scientist
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer
  • Transport Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Production or Plant Engineer
  • Aeronautical Engineer
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Engineering Technologist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Naval Architect
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist
  • Veterinarian
  • Medical Diagnostic Radiographer
  • Medical Radiation Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • General Practitioner
  • Anaesthetist
  • Cardiologist
  • Endocrinologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Intensive Care Specialist
  • Paediatrician
  • Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
  • Medical Practitioners (nec)
  • Barrister
  • Solicitor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Psychologists (nec)
  • Chef*
  • Boat Builder and Repairer
  • Shipwright

http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/punjabi/en/article/2016/11/21/52-jobs-may-get-removed-skilled-occupation-list

Coalition opens way for foreign chefs, brickies

THOUSANDS of foreign chefs, bricklayers and tilers will no longer have to be sponsored by employers to obtain permanent visas, as the Abbott government eases skilled migration rules to address alleged labour shortages.

Under changes backed by business groups, the three professions have been added to the Skilled Occupation List from July, meaning these workers will be able to apply for a permanent visa without requiring a sponsor.

Unions attacked the changes as unjustified given employers had recently said there were having “little difficulty’’ finding workers in the building industry.

Documents seen by The Weekend Australian also show the agency that recommended the changes acknowledged the inclusion of chefs could result in “exploitation of the training system for permanent residency’’.

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said the tourism sector faced labour and skills shortages, with an additional 56,000 workers required by next year, including 26,000 skilled positions.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash said the addition of the three professions would be welcomed in regional areas where there was increased demand for these jobs but “a decrease in apprenticeship completions’’.

“As an island nation with a small population, a sustainable human capital strategy for Australia must be readily available to safeguard business from labour and skills shortages,’’ Senator Cash said.

“However, it would be simplistic to say that there is always an Australian willing and available to fill a particular position in various geographical locations within Australia, and it is the role of the skilled migration program to fill the gap.’’

Under the general skilled migration program, professionals and other skilled migrants can enter Australia without being sponsored by an employer. While they have to nominate an occupation on the skilled occupation list, there is no obligation for them to work in that occupation.

The government has capped the program at 43,990 skilled visas next financial year. For each of the professions on the list, the number of positions available is capped at 6 per cent of the occupation’s workforce.

Senator Cash said the government had decided to set the cap for chefs at 3 per cent for an initial six months.

According to the ABS Labour Force survey, about 76,100 chefs, 23,360 bricklayers and 15,800 floor and wall tilers work in Australia.

Under the 3 per cent cap, up to 2283 overseas chefs could apply for a place in the program, rising to 4566 if the cap went to 6 per cent. For bricklayers, the maximum number would be 1401, and 948 for floor and wall tilers.

Senator Cash stressed the changes would not result in thousands of extra foreign workers coming to Australia. Given total places remained capped at the same level, the entry of additional chefs, bricklayers and tilers would result in less places being approved among the existing 188 occupations on the list.

United Voice, the union representing chefs, said it did not accept there was a “skills gap’’ among chefs.

“The industry has got no problems attracting staff in Australia, the industry has a problem keeping staff,’’ said the union’s acting national secretary, David O’Byrne. “It has high turnover, low wages and highly casualised labour.”

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union pointed to the latest national survey by the Master Builders, which found the degree of difficulty in finding employees and subcontractors decreased in the March quarter.

“All categories are close to record lows with little difficulty finding employees or subcontractors in the building industry,” the survey said.

Dave Noonan, the national secretary of the CFMEU’s construction division, said the policy change “again demonstrates that the Abbott government does not have the interests of working Australians at heart’’.

Master Builders acting chief executive Richard Calver said the survey also showed “strong growth in the residential construction sector’’.

In recommending the changes, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency said the inclusion of chefs “presents risk in terms of exploitation of the training system for permanent residency purposes’’ as had occurred prior to 2010. It said the risk had been diminished by policy changes.

Mr Robb said the changes would ensure Australia could fill the workforce needs of the “next wave of tourism infrastructure’’.

At Crown casino in Melbourne, Mark Holmes, general manger of food and beverage, said Crown gave priority to recruiting locally and had a program to train Australian chefs. “But we still currently have a number of local chef vacancies which have taken much longer than usual to fill,’’ Mr Holmes said.

 

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/coalition-opens-way-for-foreign-chefs-brickies/story-fn59noo3-1226946439974

Alternative English Language tests for visa applicants

From November 2014, the department will accept English language test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT) and the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) across visa programmes.  These tests are alternatives to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Occupational English Test (OET), and have been accepted in the Student visa programme since November 2011.

The Department of Immigration has announced that the TOEFL and Pearson tests of English language ability will be accepted for immigration purposes from November 2014.

Currently, only the International English Language Testing System IELTS and Occupational English Test (OET) are accepted for the purposes of applying for General Skilled Migration and Permanent Employer Sponsored ENS/RSMS visas.

From November 2014, the following tests will also be accepted:

TOEFL iBT

The TOEFL iBT is taken via the internet. There are more than 50 test dates each year, and there is a wide range of test locations throughout the world.

The test takes approximately 4.5 hours to complete has the following structure:

  1. Reading: 60-80 Minutes
  2. Listening: 120-180 Minutes
  3. Speaking: 20 Minutes
  4. Writing: 50 Minutes

TOEFL scores are available approximately 10 days after the test date. They can be viewed online, and a hard copy is sent approximately 13 days after the test date. You can specify recipients for your scores to be sent to via an online facility, but this cannot be changed after you have taken the test.

The current cost to undertake the TOEFL iBT in Australia is $240, well under the current cost of IELTS ($330).

PTE Academic

The Pearson Test of English Academic is structured as follows:

  1. Speaking and writing: 77 – 93 minutes
  2. Reading: 32 – 41 minutes
  3. Listening: 45 – 57 minutes

Overall, the test takes 3 hours. Results are available within 5 working days, and can be accessed by logging into an online account. It is possible to forward results to institutions via the online account also. This compares favourably with IELTS – results currently take 2 weeks to become available, and there is no online account facility for test takers.

The cost to do the PTE Academic test in Australia is $330 – exactly the same as IELTS. Locations and test dates are less extensive than the TOEFL.

Which Visas Will Be Affected?

The new English tests will apply for the following types of visa:

At this point, the new English tests have not been announced as applying to the subclass 457 visa. This subclass is currently under review and a report is due in July 2014, and it is likely that one of the recommendations would be to accept a wider range of English tests.

English Levels

Various Levels of English are Relevant for visa purposes:

1. Functional English

This is the level required for applicants for permanent and provisional skilled visas who wish to avoid paying the English Language Charge (currently $4,500 or more).

Required Scores to establish Functional English are as follows:

Test component Average across test components only
IELTS 4.5
TOEFL iBT 32
PTE Academic 30
OET n/a

2. Vocational English

Vocational English is the required level to obtain a 457 visa, and also ENS and RSMS visa through the Temporary Residence Transitional stream for people who have held a 457 visa for 2 years with the employer.

Required scores to establish Vocational English are as follows:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 5 5 5 5
TOEFL iBT 4 4 14 14
PTE Academic 36 36 36 36
OET B B B B

3. Competent English

Competent English is the minimum (threshold) score for people applying for General Skilled Migration. It is also the score required for people applying for ENS and RSMS visas through the Direct Entry Stream.

Scores required to show Competent English are as follows:

 

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 6 6 6 6
TOEFL iBT 12 13 21 18
PTE Academic 50 50 50 50
OET B B B B

4. Proficient English

Proficient English applies only to Points Tested General Skilled visas, and is the required score to obtain 10 points for English.

Scores required for Proficient English are:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 7 7 7 7
TOEFL iBT 24 24 27 23
PTE Academic 65 65 65 65
OET B B B B

5. Superior English

Superior English is to obtain the maximum score of 20 in the Skilled Migration Points Test.

Minimum scores for Superior English are:

Listening Reading Writing Speaking
IELTS 8 8 8 8
TOEFL iBT 28 29 30 26
PTE Academic 79 79 79 79
OET A A A A

Conclusion

The availability of more choices for English language testing from November 2014 will be good for visa applicants. There will be various advantages for the different English tests, for instance:

  • TOEFL: readily available, inexpensive
  • Pearson: results ready in 5 days, ability to forward results to various recipients after test date
  • OET: no requirement to sit all 4 modules on the same date, results from different dates accepted by Immigration

http://www.immi.gov.au/News/Pages/aelt.aspx

Possibility of Cook in SOL …

Skill Shortages – Statistical Summary
The following is a summary of the quantifiable results of the Department of Employment’s skill shortage research. These provide a basis for comparison across locations and occupations and gives an historical  perspective to the 2013 results. It is important, though, to also understand the qualitative information gathered from the research. This is provided in Skill Shortages Australia

 

http://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/skillshortagessummary2013.pdfcoo

 

http://docs.employment.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/skillshortagesaustralia2013.pdf

 

 

Annual Update of Skilled Occupation List – 1 July 2013

Occupations removed from the SOL

ANZSCO Code Occupation
251511 Hospital Pharmacist
251513 Retail Pharmacist
323111 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics)
323112 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical)
323113 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures)

Regional Classification for Perth

On 19 July 2011 the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced the inclusion of Perth in the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS). The minister also agreed to include Perth as a regional area for family sponsored applications through the regional General Skilled Migration (GSM) programs.

Regional Migration Agreements

As part of Budget 2011–12, the Government has announced the introduction of Regional Migration Agreements (RMAs). These agreements are a new migration initiative that will bring together employers, local and state government and unions to cooperate on addressing local labour needs.

RMAs will be a coordinated response to regional labour needs, helping local areas to implement workforce strategies that support growth while ensuring Australian workers remain the first choice for employers and industry.

RMAs will be custom-designed, geographically based migration arrangements that set out the occupations and numbers of overseas workers needed in the area. Concessional access to semi-skilled overseas workers will be negotiated where there is a demonstrable and critical need.

Each RMA will be negotiated between the Government and representatives of the local area. Individual local employers will then directly sponsor workers under the terms of the RMA.

The agreements will allow employers to use overseas workers where local labour cannot be sourced. By utilising RMAs, regional employers will be able to gain streamlined access to temporary and permanent overseas workers if they can demonstrate a genuine need.

A strong focus of RMAs will be fostering training initiatives for Australians. Communities will be expected to demonstrate innovative strategies to train local workers to meet future skill needs. Individual employers who sponsor overseas workers under an RMA-associated labour agreement will be required to demonstrate investment in the training of local workers.

Free Seminars for Skilled Migrants in Victoria

Skilled migrants who have recently arrived in Australia can get expert advice on finding work in selected occupations at free seminars in Victoria.

The seminars will be held in Melbourne and regional Victoria, and will feature a panel of experts to answer questions and cover topics including:

* an overview of the labour market in Victoria for each occupation
* how to prepare for work in Australia
* how to write a resume for an Australian employer
* where workers for each occupation are needed most in Victoria.

Migrants who attend will also have the opportunity to network with a range of industry professionals, recruiters and other industry experts.

Please note that these seminars are for skilled migrant visa holders only. Other interested parties are advised to email seminars@holmesglen.edu.au for further information.

Western Australian Skilled Migration Occupation List

Western Australian Skilled Migration Occupation List
Skilled Sponsored Visa (SSV) – Subclass 176 (Offshore) and 886 (Onshore)
Skilled Regional Sponsored (Provisional) Visa (SRSV) – Subclass 475 (Offshore) and 487 (Onshore)

Applicants who have a skill listed on the Western Australian Skilled Migration Occupation List (WASMOL) may be eligible to apply for Western Australian State Sponsorship.
These occupations do not relate to any specific job vacancies, nor represent any guarantee of a job in these occupations, but rather identify skills that are in demand for industry sectors in Western Australia.
State Sponsorship applicants will have to compete with all potential employees in the Western Australian labour market in a normal competitive selection process to secure any available or advertised job.