The 457 visa programme is due to be replaced by a new visa subclass. Below we discuss the details and planned time frames for the changes to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme. The 457 visa will no longer be available and a new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa will be introduced in March 2018. Some changes to the temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme commenced on 19 April 2017 and all changes will be completed by March 2018. Please engage the services of a registered migration agent to ensure you understand the impact of these changes.
From 19 April 2017, the existing 457 visa occupation list was significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted. The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) was renamed the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months. The other occupations list used for skilled migration, the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) was renamed the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will be updated annually and will be used to specify occupations available for a 4 year 457 visa and permanent employer sponsored visas. 457 visas issued nominating an occupation on the short term list (STSOL) will be valid for a maximum two year stay in Australia. Occupations on the medium list (MLTSSL) will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years.
From 1 July 2017, the short term list (STSOL) will be further reviewed and additional occupations may be removed. The medium list (MLTSSL) will be revised based on outcomes from the Department of Education and Training’s 2017-18 SOL review. There will be no English language salary exemption threshold, which exempts applicants whose salary is over $96,400 from the English language requirement. Policy settings about the training benchmark requirement will be made clearer in legislative instruments due to be released at an unknown later date. Police clearance certificates will become mandatory for all visa applicants.
At some time prior to 31 December 2017, The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for all 457 visa holders and other employer sponsored migrants. Data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary. The Department also plans to publish the details of any sponsor sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations.
From March 2018, the 457 visa will be closed and replaced with the TSS visa. Under the TSS the Short-Term stream will have the capacity for visa renewal onshore once only. A requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (or equivalent test) score of 5, with a minimum of 4.5 in each test component and finally a genuine temporary entrant requirement will be applied.