The federal government is replacing 457 visas with a new type of temporary visa designed to ‘better target genuine skills shortages’. The announcement was made on Facebook by Malcolm Turnbull who explained “Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs”.
The Prime Minister said the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa will feature “new requirements including previous work experience, better English language proficiency and labour market testing”. In addition, he said the government will establish a new training fund to ‘help train Australians to fill skills gaps’.
Following the announcement, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection released further details of the new visa, explaining it will be comprised of a ‘Short-Term stream of up to two years’ and a ‘Medium-Term stream of up to four years’, with ‘a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers’.
The Department said the TSS Visa is part of a reform package, the implementation of which is now underway but expected to be completed by March 2018.
Intended to ‘strengthen the integrity and quality of Australia’s temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes’, the Department said the package includes the following reforms:
- Introducing the TSS visa with new requirements, including but 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.”