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Impending Changes to Australian Immigration

Written By Will Aldous
Thu, Nov 9, 2017
Will Aldous

In recent updates, we have covered a number of major changes to migration legislation. These changes have impacted the skilled occupation lists, English language requirements and training benchmark requirements. There are still significant changes to come from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), with March 2018 being the next significant milestone.

The March 2018 reforms will see the introduction of the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa, announced by the Turnbull government earlier this year. These upcoming reforms will affect those who have been in Australia working on 457 visas, as well as those who had intended on applying for permanent residency after two years of employment with their current sponsoring business.

Further, they will affect any Australian business employing overseas citizen employees. This is due to the introduction of the new training levies, which in most circumstances, make the process more expensive for a nominating company. For this reason, we encourage businesses to proceed with permanent residence nominations prior to March 2018.


The New Training Levy

Existing training benchmark requirements will cease in March 2018, with a new Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy to be paid instead at nomination time for the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, as well as employer sponsored permanent visas.

The SAF levy will make nominating employees a considerably more expensive undertaking for a business.

The amounts payable per applicant are set out as follows:

  • The charge will be calculated according to the number of years set out in the nomination, and payable in full at this time.
  • A small business (Turnover less than $10M) will pay $1,200 per nomination per year for a TSS visa. A large business will pay $1,800 per nominee per year.
  • If the employee is applying for a four year visa, this will require the four annual payments to be made at the time of application. (For example, if a large business nominates an employee for a four year TSS visa, this business is liable to pay $7,200 when the nomination is made.)
  • For permanent visas, the charge will be $5000 per applicant for a large business, and $3,000 per applicant for a small business.


Available Streams

Visa holders may not be aware of all the pathways available for permanent residency.

Where a visa holder is not eligible to apply for their permanent residency visa via the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream until after March 2018, they may wish to consider applying for a 186 or 187 visa through the employer nominated Direct Entry (DE) stream. This option only remains available for approximately 6 more weeks, as the window of time in which to obtain a positive skills assessment is closing.

Like the TRT stream, the DE stream leads to a permanent residency visa. The difference is that if an applicant can demonstrate that they are at the requisite Australian skill level in their nominated occupation prior to lodgement, they do not need to work for their employer for two years, or even hold a 457 visa.

Further to the option of applying for an employer nominated visa, many applicants may also be eligible to apply for a permanent General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa. Unlike the TRT and DE streams, a GSM visa does not require the support of an employer.

Both the DE permanent visa and the GSM visa will require the applicant to first obtain a positive skills assessment in their occupation.


Skills Assessments

Each eligible occupation has a specific skills assessing authority. The assessing authority will assess the applicant against specific requirements to see if they will meet the criteria to use this pathway. Each occupation requires an applicant to meet different criteria.

For example: A Marketing Specialist will be required to demonstrate that they have completed a relevant degree, and that they have one year of work experience post-graduation in a relevant role – this is assessed by VETASSESS. (Note 3 years skilled experience is required for a permanent visa to be successful)

A skills assessment will generally take 12 weeks to complete, and must be finalised prior to lodgement of a direct entry PR visa. There is an option to request priority processing for an additional fee of $660.00.

Businesses who wish to support employees for permanent residency via the TRT, DE or GSM stream can contact TSS Immigration to arrange an assessment of the individual's options.

If you have any questions relating to the above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

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