Australian 457 Visa Update

The much anticipated changes to the 457 visa, sees the Australian government committed to securing the expertise of high calibre professionals across a range of sectors and establishing a route to permanent residency for those occupations on the four year MLTSSL (Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List).

The 457 visa has been the predominant focus of change with the majority of amendments applying to this subclass. Legislation saw the creation of separate occupation lists for different visa subclasses with 36 new occupations being added and 12 removed. In addition, there were changes to the training benchmark system and certain exemptions were removed.

Temporary Work Subclass 457 visa
The 457 visa has been the main focus of the recent changes and the largest number of changes apply to this subclass. 36 occupations have been added to lists and 12 removed. The changes will apply to lodged but undecided applications for 457 STSOL  (Short-term Skilled Occupation List) and MLTSSL.

Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 visa
The changes made to the ENS 186 visa will impact on applications for permanent residency from 1 July 2017 and in some cases applications made prior to the date. The 186 visa has had separate MLTSSL and STSOL lists established but occupations on the 186 STSOL will still qualify for access to the 186 visa. It is thought that the STSOL will not be removed until March 2018. A significant feature is that changes to the occupation lists will not apply to already lodged applications.

The recent changes, have softened the impact of those made in April, improving oversights to these occupation lists. While the new framework flags concerns over permanent residency pathways for occupations on the STSOL and it’s impact on employers' recruitment and retention policies, the lists will be reviewed every 6 and 12 months in response to changing labour market demands.

The 1st of July changes do remove many of the overreaching April changes but for some sectors there remains an uncertainty regarding permanent residency. This, commentators believe, may require a review of the recruitment and retention of overseas talent. Despite this, many suggest that the changes remain beneficial for businesses and professionals from a range of sectors. The Health, Construction and Engineering, and Mining sectors feature skilled occupations on both the two year STSOL and the four year MLTSSL. The Sports and Hospitality sectors predominantly feature occupations on the STSOL.

This article provides a brief overview of the current situation and should not be relied upon as a substitute for bespoke legal advice addressing your specific needs. Further information can be obtained from a qualified Australia immigration expert ( MARA and MIA registered), who is experienced in guiding individuals and businesses through the complexities of obtaining the right visa to live, work and play in Australia. For expert advice tailored to your need, contact Ark Migration.

 Ark Migration July 2017


457 implications for hospitality sector

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s most recent quarterly report on the subclass 457 visa, Accommodation and Food Services was among the top three sponsors for 457 visa holders and with the hospitality industry set to continue to grow, what are the implications for Hospitality following changes to the 457?

Tourism Australia relies heavily on the Hospitality industry and the industry itself is in the grip of a major skills drought with a large number of this workforce currently under the 457 visa. As it was, the 457 granted eligible workers four years, with eligibility for permanent residency after two. However, by March 2018, this will now be replaced by two Temporary Skills Shortage visas – a short term, two-year visa (STSOL) and the medium and long term four-year visa (MLTSSL).

Industry insiders comment that some of the initial panic over the abolition of the 457 is misplaced. Very few hospitality-related jobs were among the professions to be removed from eligibility and the demand for chefs is still such that this occupation is on the four year MLTSSL, with it’s attendant residency pathway. Other hospitality professions are sought on the short-term list including cafe or restaurant managers, cooks, bakers and pastry cooks.

With the MLTSSL visa, skilled workers will be entitled to a 4 year working visa with eligibility to apply for permanent residency after three years. The positive outcome from these new regulations is the collection of all tax file numbers, thus ensuring that minimum market salary is being paid. Minimum market salary to be offered to sponsored employees will now be $53,900 per annum.

If you are currently in the process of a 457 visa application that is pending approval, we recommend that you contact your immigration lawyer or Ark Migration. If your profession has been removed from the Medium to Long Term Strategic Skilled List or if your skills do not comply with the new regulations, you may be able to withdraw your application and request a refund.

This article provides a brief overview of the current situation and should not be relied upon as a substitute for bespoke legal advice addressing your specific needs. Further information can be obtained from a qualified Australia immigration expert ( MARA and MIA registered), who is experienced in guiding individuals and businesses through the complexities of obtaining the right visa to live, work and play in Australia. For expert advice tailored to your needs, contact Ark Migration.


Ark Migration July 2017


Further updates to the work visa program

Click here to view the original article by Mark Dunphy from Hall & Willcox.

In addition to the changes made to the work visa program in April 2017, further adjustments have been introduced on 1 July 2017 which we have summarised below.

Temporary Work visa (subclass 457)

Training Requirement

The Department of Immigration has published a new instrument on how it assesses the training benchmark B requirement. The refinements include the fact that only the salary expense of a person whose sole duty is to provide training can be counted as an expense. Previously, the proportionate expense of any employee delivering training could be constituted as a training expense.

Fees paid to external trainers, associated costs for attending training, purchase of eLearning standalone training programs, salary payments to Australian apprentices and graduates who are part of a structured training program and expenditure to attend conferences for continued professional development continue to be accepted by the Department as a training expense.

Mandatory character checks

All applicants over 16 will have to provide a police clearance certificate from each country they have resided for more than 12 months in the last 10 years.

New sponsorship list

The Department has updated the list of occupations available for sponsorship. 36 occupations have been added back to the list including Retail Buyers (639211), Tailors (393213) and Butchers (351211).

Several occupations have been moved from the Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) to the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) such as Chief Executive Officers (111111), Corporate General Manager (111211), Faculty Head (134411), Chief Information Officer (135111), Statistician (224113), University Lecturer (242111) and Software and Applications Programmers not elsewhere classified (261399).

This now means the above occupations are eligible for a four year 457 visa.

English language threshold exemption removed

Previously, applicants who were being remunerated above a base salary of $96,400 were exempt from having to demonstrate their level of English. This is no longer the case unless they are nationals of New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada or Ireland.

Applicants must secure the following scores of an English language test:

  • IELTS: 5.0 overall with no less than 4.5 in each band
  • OET: score of at least a ‘B’ in each component
  • TOEFL iBT: score of 36 and no less than 3 for listening, reading components while writing and speaking must be no less than 12.

The above would not apply if the applicant has studied at a secondary and/or tertiary level institution where all subjects were delivered in English for at least five years.

Updated caveats

The Department has updated the caveat requirements for the following occupations:

  • Chief Executive Officers – must now be remunerated above $180,001 per annum
  • Corporate General Manager – must now be remunerated above $180,001 per annum.

Both these occupations previously had a base salary caveat of $90,000.

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) – Direct Entry stream

New occupations list

All applicants under this stream must nominate an occupation which appears either on the MLTSSL or STSOL list.

Refining the skill and English language exemption requirement

Previously, applicants who were being remunerated above the Australian Tax Office’s high income threshold ($180,001) were exempted from having to provide proof of their skill or English language ability at the time of application. The Department has removed this exemption.

Only researchers, scientists, technical specialists who are nominated by an Australian scientific agency or individuals nominated by Australian universities as lecturers, tutors or faculty heads are automatically deemed skilled at the time of application.

These new exemptions apply to current and pending ENS applications.

Lowering the age requirement

Applicants have to be under 50 years of age (previously 45) at the time of application. Only researchers, scientists, technical specialists who are being nominated by an Australian scientific agency are exempted from the age requirement.

New Zealand citizens who have been working in the role for the nominating employer for two years would also meet the age exemption requirement.

We will be sharing further updates as they become available.