On 18 April 2017 the Australian Government and Department of Immigration and Border Protection jointly announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (referred to as 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.

The changes will be rolled out over the next 12 months to make improvements to Australia’s employer-sponsored skilled migration programmes to ensure they better meet Australia’s skills needs.

The first thing you need to know is – don’t panic! The new visas aren’t radically different from the current one. Here’s what you need to know:

What is the 457 visa? 

In a nutshell, the 457 visa allows Australian businesses to employ foreign workers for a period up to four years in skilled jobs where there are a shortage of Australian workers.

What is the new TSS programme?

The new programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years.

The Short-Term Stream

This is designed for Australian businesses to fill gaps with foreign workers on a temporary basis when a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be found.

Employment positions which are listed on the Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) are eligible for a two-year visa, with the capacity for one onshore visa renewal. This means that a Short-Term TSS Visa holder will only be able to stay in Australia for a maximum of four years.

These visa holders may not be eligible for Permanent Residence under the Employee Nominated Scheme (ENS) or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), as there is now a requirement of 3 years continual work to get ENS. (Further information will be sought on this).

Potential applicants will still need to meet the English language requirement and do a police check.

In July 2017, the Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) will be reviewed based on advice from the Department of Employment.

The Medium/Long-Term Stream

The Medium-Term Stream of the TSS will allow Australian businesses to source foreign workers to address shortages in a narrow range of high skill and critically needed occupations. These positions will be for occupations which have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy so that Australian business can find the right expertise to prosper when a suitably skilled Australian worker is not available.

The Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). Occupations on the list will be eligible for a visa up to four years, with the capacity for visa renewal onshore for another 4 years and a permanent residence pathway after three years.

This stream will also require applicants to meet English language requirements.

What does this mean for the current and future University of Tasmania student community? 

Fear not! If you are already on the 457 visa, you won’t be affected and will still continue under the same conditions of that visa unless you are otherwise notified by the department. However, if you want to transfer from your current 457 visa to a new visa, you may fall into the new regulations.

For any current or future University of Tasmania international students, many of the occupations changes refer to vocations or entry level workers, so there is a good chance that you won’t be affected – but keep an eye on The Explorer and we’ll keep you posted as more information is released.

 

UTAS alumni that applied for a 457 visa before 18 April 2017 – what will happen?

457 visa applicants that had lodged their application on or before 18 April 2017, and whose application had not yet been decided, with an occupation that has been removed from the STSOL, may be eligible for a refund of their visa application fee.

 

When are these changes happening?

From 19 April 2017 – for the existing 457 visa applications/holders – the government has reduced the number of occupations that applicants can apply for a 457 Visa or a TSS visa under, with the list reduced from 651 to 435 occupations. You can see the full list here, however, the government is yet to provide separate lists that distinguish the short-term and medium-term visas – these lists are expected to be released in July 2017 and will be revised in 6-month increments.

From March 2018 –  the 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the TSS visa. The TSS visa will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years, and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years (as above).

Where can I find out more information?

The best person to contact is your migration agent or sponsoring employer. You can also check out these fact sheets released by the Australian Government for more information:

Fact sheet one: Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme—abolition and replacement of the 457 visa.

Fact sheet two: Reforms to Australia’s permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programme.