The Australian government is committed to introducing the new TSS visa program in March 2018, and this will be broken into both a short and long-term stream.
Foreign nationals who qualify for the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), will be granted a two-year visa, with an option to apply for another two-year on-shore extension if they wish to remain in Australia for a further period of time. Applicants will have the option to go off-shore to make further applications for the TSS visa, however they will no longer have access to a pathway towards permanent residency.
Conversely, individuals who are eligible for the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will be granted a four-year visa with the opportunity for renewal, as well as a guaranteed pathway to permanent residency after three years.
The government is currently looking at finalising a pathway to permanent residency for applicants 45 years of age and over.
Under the new proposal, visa holders will have to work for three years with the same employer, in the same occupation, and be paid at least the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT)—currently $142,000—for each year, prior to the application being made. The previous requirement was four years, so this can be seen as a massive win for this cohort of applicants.
The introduction of the new STSOL and MLTSSL led to the removal of 216 jobs from the previous Skilled Occupation List (SOL), and will feature stricter requirements to qualify, including:
- A minimum of two years previous experience in a similar role;
- Stricter background checks and character assessments, taking the form of police clearances that may delay the approval process;
- Tougher English language proficiency requirements, specifically for applicants with occupations on the MLTSSL.
There is currently no age restriction in place for applicants wishing to lodge a TSS visa application, although age limits do still apply to other programs such as the Employer Nomination (subclass 186) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.
Business owners looking to employ temporary foreign workers will also be hit with higher fees and the introduction of rigorous new mandatory labour market testing laws.
Before employers can hire temporary foreign workers they will have to show they have satisfied the following requirements:
- Provide proof that non-discriminatory workforce testing requirements have been met;
- Demonstrate that it passes the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (currently $53,900 plus Super);
- Ensure that the business pays workers at the Australian market salary rate.
Higher Fees for Visa Holders and Employers
Visa applicants will also be hit with significantly higher fees when applying to the skilled visa program, with the short-term visa increasing in cost from $1,060 to $1,150, while the price of the medium-term visa is set to spike to $2,400 each.
Additionally, companies will also be required to pay an annual foreign worker levy to help contribute to the government’s new Skilling Australians Fund.
The amount required will vary depending on the size of the business looking to hire TSS visa workers, with employers required to contribute a fixed visa fee along with a larger one-off payment to the Department.
- Companies with an annual turnover of less than $10 million per year will be required to pay $1,200 per year for each worker they wish to employ on a TSS visa;
- These companies will also be required to make a one-off payment of $3,000 to the Department for each employee being sponsored for a permanent employer nomination or regional sponsored migration visa;
- Larger companies with an annual turnover exceeding $10 million will be slugged with a yearly fee of $1,800 for every TSS visa worker employed;
- They will also be subject to a one-off payment of $5,000 for every worker they chose to employ as part of the permanent employer nomination or regional sponsored migration visa scheme.
Please note that this levy is still to be approved by Parliament, and if it does not get passed prior to the introduction of the TSS visa then we are certain that the government will push to have this passed in a watered-down form.
The Department has confirmed that individuals who were already on 457 visas prior to the April changes last year will still retain access to the employer-sponsored pathway to permanent residency.
The provisional grandfathering arrangements will provide some concessions for visa holders by placing them into the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream. Under the TRT occupation requirements will remain unchanged, meaning that there will be no new restrictions applied so long as the visa holder continues to work in the same position, for the same employer who initially nominated them.
At this time other grandfathering arrangements will include:
- A current maximum age limit of 50 years for applicants, although this may be subject to change;
- A new requirement that the applicant must possess three year’s work experience relevant to the particular occupation;
- The work experience requirement will remain unchanged, meaning that visa holders will still be able to apply for residency after two years of employment from their sponsor;
- 457 visa holders will also be subject to the same fees that have been imposed on the TSS program, with the amount to be paid in full at the time of nomination.
Absolute Immigration believes that there are ways to minimise some of the impact of the March changes, and these include:
- Work with Absolute Immigration to develop robust systems and processes around overseas foreign nationals;
- Advertise for every role;
- Lodge 457 visas and Nominations prior to March 2018;
- Look to lodge PR applications prior to March 2018, at minimum the Nomination (company) part of the application;
- Hold off on new sponsorship applications if the current 1% training benchmark is greater than the proposed training levy:
- Lodge new sponsorship applications prior to 1 March 2018 if the proposed training levy is greater than the 1% training benchmark;
- Look at sending great employees who do not have a pathway to permanent residency to locations in New Zealand, where they may have a pathway to a permanent visa (Absolute Immigration can also assist with this requirement).
Please contact one of our Registered Migration Agents at Absolute Immigration to discuss how we can assist with your strategy for the introduction of the TSS visa and the 1 March 2018 changes.
If you have any questions or would like us to assist with your global immigration queries, simply click this link to schedule a call with one of our Registered Migration Agents
http://absoluteimmigration.com/schedule-a-call/ OR call 1300 ABSOLUTE (1300 227 658).