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AUSTRALIA – Stricter Criteria for Permanent Employer-Sponsored Skilled Migration

On 18 April 2017, the Australian government announced tighter eligibility criteria for the permanent employer-sponsored skilled migration programmes, alongside major changes to the subclass 457 visa which we described in this alert.

The implementation of these reforms began on 19 April 2017 and is expected to be completed in March 2018.

Which Visas are Affected?

  • Those affected are prospective permanent employer-sponsored visa applicants and businesses sponsoring skilled migrants.
  • The reforms mainly affect the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187).
  • Existing and prospective applicants for the Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa, the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa, and the Skilled Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa will also be affected by some changes to the occupations lists.

Timeline of Changes

From 19 April 2017

  • The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), which currently underpins the Direct Entry stream of the ENS visa, has been renamed the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL).
  • There has been a removal of 216 occupations from the CSOL in creating the STSOL. In addition, 24 occupations listed on the STSOL will now only be eligible for positions located in regional Australia.
  • The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) has been renamed the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).

From 01 July 2017

  • The STSOL will be further reviewed based on advice from the Department of Employment. The MLTSSL will be revised based on outcomes from the Department of Education and Training’s 2017-18 SOL review.
  • A requirement will be introduced for an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (or equivalent test) score of 6 in each component.
  • A maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application will apply to Direct Entry stream applicants. A maximum age requirement of 50 at the time of application will continue to apply to Temporary Residence Transition stream applicants.

Before 31 December 2017

  • The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for these visa holders (and other employer sponsored migrants), and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.
  • DIBP will commence the publication of details relating to sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation.

From March 2018

  • For the ENS and RSMS visas: The MLTSSL will now apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers for the RSMS.
  • Employers will have to pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (set at AUD 53,900 as at 18 April 2016).
  • The permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years.
  • At least three years’ relevant work experience will be required.
  • All applicants will have to be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application.
  • A strengthened training requirement will be introduced for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers.

Action Items

  • Employers sponsoring future applications for permanent skilled migration to Australia should consult an immigration adviser for the latest information about these reforms.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Visa Executive and Newland Chase.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.