Changes to skilled visa programmes – 1st July 2017

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In April this year the Australian government announced a number of changes to their immigration policies for temporary and permanent skilled migrants.  These changes included some dramatic changes to the temporary skilled migrant programmes (the 457 visa), as well as other changes that impact on several temporary and permanent skilled visa programmes, including the Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190).

The sweeping changes to the subclass 457 visa for temporary foreign workers was introduced in a drive to give Australian workers the first priority for jobs.  Australian businesses will still be able to temporarily access critical skills from abroad if local skills are lacking under the new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa.  This visa replaces the Subclass 457 visa and will involved tighter English language requirements and compulsory criminal checks.  These visas have been split into two streams, short term and medium term, based on the relevant occupation lists.

Short term visas will be issued for two years, whereas the medium term visa for four years, and both categories will require mandatory labour market testing, a minimum of two-years experience in the skilled occupation, salaries must be paid at the Australian market rate and meet the skilled migration income threshold.  This new visa will come into effect in March 2018.  For more information about this new visa category, click here.

The Australian government also announced changes to the points-tested skilled visa categories.  This includes skilled independent visa subclass 189, skilled nominated visa subclass 190, and skilled regional visa subclass 489.  One of the most significant changes to the points-based visas is the lowering of the age threshold to under 45 years of age.  Previously, if you were aged between 45-49 you could still apply but received zero points for your age.  This has now been done away with.

The other change has been to the skilled occupation lists.  There is no longer the SOL and CSOL lists, but rather a new list (IMMI 17/072) that breaks occupations into either Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills Lists (subclass 189 and 190 visas), and Short-term Skilled Occupation List (subclass 190 and 489 only).  As before, applicants will need to apply to the sponsoring state or territory, submit and EOI, wait to be nominated by the state before applying for the visa.  The full list of the eligible occupations can be seen here.