Skilled migrants currently working in Australia on a 457 visa can continue to work under their current conditions despite an announcement by the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, that the 457 visa is to be abolished.
However, employers of skilled migrants need to be aware of important changes that will impact employment of new migrants to Australia.
Mr Turnbull announced that the 457 visa program for skilled migrants will be replaced by a new scheme that will comprise a short-term two-year visa and a medium-term four-year visa with a reduced occupation list. He said, “it will be underpinned by more focused occupation lists that are responsive to genuine skill needs and regional variations across Australia”.
Mr Turnbull said the decision to abolish and replace the 457 visa would help protect Australian jobs for Australian workers, “while finding the right balance so businesses can prosper by acquiring the expertise they need”.
- Key reforms to the temporary skill shortage visa, include but are not limited to:
- new, more targeted occupation lists which better align with skill needs in the Australian labour market
- a requirement for visa applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation
- a minimum market salary rate which ensures that overseas workers cannot be engaged to undercut Australian workers
- mandatory labour market testing, unless an international obligation applies
- capacity for only one onshore visa renewal under the Short-Term stream
- capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the Medium-Term stream
- the permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years
- a non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers
- strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers
- the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records, and
mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.
- Tightening eligibility requirements for employer sponsored permanent skilled visas, including but not limited to:
- tightened English language requirements
- a requirement for visa applicants to have at least three years’ work experience
- applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application
- strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers, and
- employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold1.
- Concessions for regional Australia will continue to be available:
- Employers in regional Australia will continue to have access to occupations under the temporary and permanent visas, to reflect their skills needs.
- Existing permanent visa concessions for regional Australia, such as waiving the nomination fee and providing age exemptions for certain occupations, will be retained. Consideration will be given to expanding the occupations in regional Australia that are exempt from the age requirement.
- Significantly condensing the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas, including the subclass 457 visa, from 19 April 2017.
Applicants for skilled migrant visas will be required to pay a fee of AU$1,150 for the short-term visa, while medium-term applicants will pay $2,400.
The new visa scheme will begin immediately, with full implementation to be completed by March 2018. Detailed information on changes to occupations is available here.
At Ayers we’ve been assisting Australian businesses to employ skilled migrants to meet their business needs for almost 20 years. We understand the legislation and know how to fast track visa applications. For further advice and assistance contact the experts at Ayers. Telephone: 1300 767 391