Summary of the Latest Changes to the Skilled Migration Program, How do they Affect You?

Following on from the Australian Government changes to the skilled migration program on the 18th of April 2017, the Government has made further changes. Some of the changes affect pending applications that were lodged prior to the 1st of July 2017, but most of the changes only affect new applications made on or after the 1st of July 2017.

Here’s a summary of the changes:

Visa Application Charge Increase

There has been a slight increase to the Visa application charges for all subclasses of Visa. This applies to both primary and secondary applicants and affects the first instalment, the second instalment (which applies to some Visas subclasses) has not changed. 

Updates to the Skilled Occupations Lists

Occupations removed from the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL):

  • Equipment Hire Manager
  • Fleet Manager
  • Picture Framer
  • Property Manager
  • Real Estate Agent Principal
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Real Estate Agent Representative
  • University Tutor

Occupations removed from the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL):

  • Psychotherapist
  • Ship’s Engineer
  • Ship’s Master
  • Ship’s Officer

Note: The occupations that have been removed from the MLTSSL don’t appear on the STSOL either.

36 occupations have been added to the STSOL, and some occupations have been moved between the STSOL and MLTSSL.

Caveats on some occupations have been revised.

Updates to Subclass 186 (ENS) and Subclass 187 (RSMS)

Age Requirements

Applicants in the Direct Entry Stream (DE) must be younger than 45 years of age, this applies to visa applications lodged on or after the 1st of July 2017.

The current under 50 years of age limit for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRT) will remain in place until the 1st of March 2018, when it will be reduced to under the 45 year of age limit.

The age exemptions for both the DE and TRT streams will remain in place.

English Language Requirements

Applications lodged on or after the 1st of July 2017 made under the TRT Stream require the applicant to have Competent English, which requires one of the following:

  • You hold a passport from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland
  • IELTS: Have scored at least 6 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing)
  • OET: Have scored a B or above in each of the four test components
  • TOEFL: Have scored at least 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking
  • PTE: Have scored at least 50 in each of the four test components
  • CAE: Have scored at least 169 in each of the four test components

The English language exemption for applicants with nominated earnings which equalled or exceeded the highest Australian Tax bracket (currently $180,001) no longer applies. This applies to all applications, including those lodged prior to the 1st of July 2017 that are yet to be finally determined.

Genuine Position

All nominations made under the DE and TRT streams must provide evidence of a genuine need for the person to work in the nominated role. The nominated employee is required to work under the direct control of the nominating employer.

Skills Assessment Exemption

The skills assessment exemption for applicants in the DE Stream with nominated earnings that equalled or exceeded the highest Australian Tax bracket (currently $180,001), no longer applies. This applies to all applications, including those lodged prior to the 1st of July 2017 that are yet to be finally determined.

Training Requirements for Subclass 186 DE

Training Benchmark A: Funds that offer commissions or refunds for failed visa applications can no longer be used.

Training Benchmark B: Scholarships payments for non-employees are no longer acceptable. A trainer’s salary is only accepted if the person is engaged solely as a trainer.

New Subclass 189 Stream for New Zealand Citizens

New Zealand citizens who hold a subclass 444 have a new pathway to permanent residence under the Subclass 189 New Zealand Stream.

The applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • must have been usually resident in Australia on or before the 19th of February 2016
  • must have resided in Australia for at least 5 years
  • must have contributed to Australia through income tax return and show taxable income of at least the equivalent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
  • must meet mandatory health, character and security criteria

Once granted, the visa holder is eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after 12 months.

Updates to Subclass 190 and 489

Applicants must be younger than 45 years of age, this applies to visa applications lodged on or after the 1st of July 2017.

Updates to Subclass 457

Character Requirements

The applicant must provide national police clearance certificates for every country they have lived in for more than 12 months, within the last 10 years. This applies to applications lodged on or after the 1st of July.

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose salary exceeds $96,400 will no longer be exempt from the English language requirement, this applies to applications lodged on or after the 1st of July unless:

  • The applicant is eligible for another English language exemption (eg: they are a passport holder from an eligible country)
  • The applicant is employed by an overseas company or associated entity and have a salary of at least $96,400

Skills Assessment for Certain Nationalities

Applicants from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan nominating their occupation as a Chef or a Cook must submit a skills assessment with their application.

Sponsorship Accreditation Arrangements

Certain low risk sponsors who only occasionally nominate employees will now have access to priority processing.

Training Requirements

Training Benchmark A: Funds that offer commissions or refunds for failed visa applications can no longer be used.

Training Benchmark B: Scholarships payments for non-employees are no longer acceptable. A trainer’s salary is only accepted if the person is engaged solely as a trainer.

 

In March 2018, the Subclass 457 visa will be replaced with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa, which will include a short term stream of up to 2 years and a medium term stream of up to 4 years. This is part of an Australian Government push to support businesses with genuine skills shortages in their workforce and aims to prioritise Australian workers.

Stay tuned for more updates

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How do the changes affect you? Are you eligible for a Visa? Find out today: