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Changes to Skilled Occupation Lists - April 2017


Written By Michael Walker
Mon, May 1, 2017
Michael Walker

In continuing to report on changes in train to 457 visa rules and the transition to permanent residency, we take a look in detail at the changes to the skilled occupation lists.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has made significant changes – effective 19 April 2017 - to the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) and the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL):

  • The SOL was the list of occupations used for General Skilled Migration (applications not sponsored by an employer);
  • The CSOL was the list of occupations that could be sponsored by an employer.  The term ‘consolidated’ was used because occupations on the SOL also appeared on the CSOL.

 

Changes to Occupation Lists
Effective from 19 April the CSOL was replaced by the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).  It has been condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted for use in the 457 visa program by a set of new caveats.  The STSOL will be updated every six months.

Effective from 19 April, the SOL was replaced by the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) list.  This list contains occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy.  The Government anticipates updating it every twelve months.
These changes will affect visa applicants for:

  • Temporary Work (Skilled) Sub-Class 457 visas
  • General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas
  • Permanent Employer Sponsored (ENS) visas
  • The Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa expect to be introduced in March 2018

 

Relevance of Occupation Lists to Employer Sponsored Visas
The creation of the two lists ushered in one of the more significant aspects of the recently announced changes to the 457 visa program: 

  • The maximum duration of a 457 visa for occupations on the STSOL is 2 years. 
  • The maximum duration of a 457 visa for occupations on the MLTSSL is 4 years.


This change to visa duration is also expected to feature as a hallmark of the new TSS visa when it is introduced.

Caveats to 457 Visa Program
Under the 457 visa program the restrictive caveats attaching to 59 occupations exclude the nomination of affected occupations in certain circumstances.  These caveats include matters such as prior work experience of nominees, requiring a regional location for the proposed employment and a higher minimum salary level for the proposed role.  In some cases, the restriction may relate to the nature of the business lodging the nomination.  More information is provided below.

The STSOL and MLTSSL are also relevant when employers wish to nominate employees for permanent residency under the Employer Nomination Scheme.  The rules around the ENS eligibility are in transition.  More information is provided below.


The Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
Occupations on the MLTSSL are available for:

  • Temporary Worker (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas (4 year visa*) 
  • Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visas
  • Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 visas (Graduate Work Stream)
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) Subclass 489 visas
  • Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 visas*

*Note: with exceptions for 16 occupations – see below

It is expected that from March 2018 the MLTSSL will be the relevant list for the Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 visa.

The Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)
The Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) has replaced the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL).

Visa applicants must have an occupation featured on the STSOL to eligible to apply for the following visa types;

  • Temporary Worker (Skilled) Subclass 457 visas (2 year visa)
  • Skilled Nominated Subclass 190 visas
  • Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 visas (if nominated by a State or Territory Government)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 visas (Direct Entry)

 

It is expected that from March 2018 the MLTSSL will be the relevant list for the Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 visa. More information is provided below.

16 occupations not appearing on List of Eligible Skilled Occupations
The STSOL and MLTSSL appear together in a listing published by DIBP entitled List of Eligible Skilled Occupations. This combined listing can lead to some confusion as there are currently 16 occupations on the MLTSSL that do not appear on the combined listing. 

The occupations (ANZSCO code in brackets) are not eligible under the 457 visa program:

• Chemical Engineer (233111) • Production Manager (Mining) (133513)
• Civil Engineering Technician (312212) • Production or Plant Engineer (233513)
• Electrical Linesworker (342211) • Project Builder (133112)
• Electronics Engineer (233411) • Ship's Engineer (231212)
• Industrial Engineer (233511) • Ship's Master (231213)
• Materials Engineer (233112) • Ship's Officer (231214)
• Medical Administrator (134211) • Stonemason (331112)
• Pressure Welder (322312) • Telecommunications Network Planner (313213)


 

Note that the STSOL contains the occupation Minister of Religion (272211), but this occupation is available for sponsorship for a Training Visa (Subclass 407) exclusively.

General Skilled Migration Impacts
The MLTSSL governs the occupations that are eligible for:

  • Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visas
  • Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 visas (Graduate Work Stream)
  • Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 visas (Family Sponsored only)


As the MLTSSL will be revised on 1 July 2017, there is potential for occupations to be removed.

457 Visa Impacts
The changes announced impact the 457 visa program in a number of ways including;

  • A maximum visa duration of 2 years (unless the occupation is also on the MLTSSL)
  • 16 occupations on the MLTSSL not available for 457 sponsorship
  • 200 occupations which have not been carried over from the CSOL to the STSOL
  • 11 occupations subject to new prior-work caveats in the context of 457 visa sponsorship
  • 25 occupations with occupation-specific caveats in the context of 457 visa sponsorship
  • 24 occupations subject to regional caveats and no longer available for 457 visa sponsorship unless the occupation is based is in a duly designated postcode


The caveats affect any applications that have been lodged but not finalized prior to 19 April, and any new applications lodged from this date. 

Prior work caveats
There are 11 occupations on the STSOL contain caveats that are exclude their use under the standard 457 program for positions that do not require a minimum of two years’ relevant work experience:

• Advertising Specialist (225111) • ICT Support Engineer (263212)
• Contract Administrator (511111) • ICT Systems Engineer (263213)
• Finance Manager (132211) • Information and Organisation Professionals nec (224999)
• Graphic Designer (232411) • Software Tester (261314)
• Hairdresser (391111) • University Lecturer (242111)
• ICT Project Manager (135112)  


 

Occupation-specific caveats
There are 25 occupations on the STSOL contain caveats specific to their occupation:

• Accountant (221111) • Hair or Beauty Salon Manager (142114)
• Animal Attendants and Trainers (NEC) (361199) • Hotel or Motel Manager (141311)
• Baker (351111) • Management Consultant (224711)
• Café and Restaurant Manager (141111) • Marketing Specialist (225113)
• Chef (351311) • Massage Therapist (411611)
• Chief Executive or Managing Director (111111) • Mechanical Engineering Technician (312512)
• Conference and Event Organiser (149311) • Pastrycook (351112)
• Cook (351411) • Recruitment Consultant (223112)
• Corporate General Manager (111211) • Sales and Marketing Manager (131112)
• Corporate Services Manager (132111) • Supply and Distribution Manager (133611)
• Customer Service Manager (149212) • Technical Sales Representative NEC (225499)
• Facilities Manager (149913) • Transport Company Manager (149413)
• Farmer – various (ANZSCO Group 121)  


 


Examples of the restrictions on this group include:

  • A designated minimum salary for the position which may be over the TSMIT salary requirement
  • Turnover of the business - minimum $1 million turnover and 5 employees
  • Restrictions on the type of activities involved in the position



Regional caveats
There are 24 occupations on the STSOL contain caveats that are regional in nature and exclude their use under the standard 457 program for positions that are not located in regional Australia.  These occupations are:

• Agricultural Technician (311111) • Livestock Farmers (NEC) (121399)
• Apiarist (121311) • Mixed Crop & Livestock Farmer (121411)
• Aquaculture Farmer (121111) • Mixed Crop Farmer (121216)
• Beef Cattle Farmer (121312) • Mixed Livestock Farmer (121317)
• Cotton Grower (121211) • Pig Farmer (121318)
• Crop Farmers (NEC) (121299) • Poultry Farmer (121321)
• Dairy Cattle Farmer (121313) • Primary Products Inspectors (NEC) (311399)
• Flower Grower (121212) • Production Manager (Forestry) (133511)
• Fruit or Nut Grower (121213) • Sheep Farmer (121322)
• Grain, Oilseed or Pasture Grower (Aus) / Field Crop Grower (NZ) (121214) • Sugar Cane Grower  (121217)
• Grape Grower (121215) • Vegetable Grower (Aus) / Market Gardener (NZ) (121221)
• Horse Breeder (121316) • Wine Maker (234213)



 

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186)

There are 2 key streams of interest for the ENS visa:

1. Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) Stream

  • Applicable where an applicant has worked in Australia for the nominating employer on a 457 visa for at least the previous 2 years; and


2. Direct Entry (DE) Stream

  • This stream requires a skills assessment and 3 years’ work experience in the occupation, although more generous rules may apply in certain circumstances.

Currently, to be sponsored for Direct Entry, an occupation must appear on the List of Eligible Skilled Occupations.

Changes are expected to be implemented in stages over the period to March 2018.  These will likely include:

  • A change to the level of English language ability needed (IELTS 6.0)
  • A change to the age requirement (lowering it from 49 to 44)
  • A change (for the TRT stream) to 3 years of prior employment with the sponsor
  • Eventual limitation of the ENS program to MLTSSL occupations only


There is currently a degree of uncertainty around some aspects of these changes, particularly whether the limitation of MLTSSL occupations for the ENS program will be limited to the Direct Entry stream only or whether it will extend to the TRT stream. 

This uncertainty currently makes it difficult in some cases to provide advice whether it is advisable to lodge an ENS application.  It is expected that DIBP will be providing further clarification in the lead up to March 2018.

Note that RSMS operates under a separate gazetted list of occupations.

It is hoped that this explanatory information helps clarify how the new occupation lists operate. Given the fluid nature of the current transition period, as DIBP develops new regulations and policy, it is recommended professional advice is sought with regard to any specific matters of concern.

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