Australia: Subclass 457 occupation lists updated – good news for CEOs, additional requirements for permanent resident hopefuls

Last Updated: 21 July 2017
Article by Rachel Drew

Most Read Contributor in Australia, December 2018

The revised 457 occupation list has been released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, effective 1 July 2017, along with a range of additional requirements for permanent residence applicants and changes to working holiday visas.

Occupations shuffled – new cuts

The new list maintains the distinction between occupations subject to the "Medium and Long term Strategic Skills List" (MLTSSL), eligible for a 4-year 457 visa, and the "Short term Skilled Occupation List" (STSOL), eligible for a 2-year 457 visa.

As of 1 July 2017, the main changes are:

  • An additional 12 occupations have been completely removed from the lists, in addition to what was removed on 18 April 2017
  • Some occupations have moved from the STSOL to the MLTSSL
  • The caveats on some occupations have been revised.

The important occupations of Chief Executive, Managing Director and General Manager have been put on the MLTSSL. Applicants are now eligible for a 4-year visa. This reverses the 18 April changes which left employers only able to offer two-year visas, which were often unattractive to incoming CEOs or MDs.

Accredited Sponsors fast track

Accreditation gives priority processing to 457 nominations and visas. Previously, it was only available for "high volume" sponsors.

From 1 July, "low volume" sponsors will be able to be accredited providing they have minimum turnover of AUD 4 million and have at least 90% Australian staff. Accreditation means priority processing and faster visa grant.

Skills assessment

Some skills assessment exemptions have been removed. Formal skills assessment will be required for more trades and more countries.

Mandatory criminal checks introduced

All visa applicants are now required to undergo mandatory criminal checks as part of their application.

Exemption to English test removed

More 457 applicants will have to demonstrate English language capacity through English testing.

The exemption where the applicant's salary is over $96,400 has been removed. However, employees transferring between a foreign parent company to an Australian arm of the company will not be required to undertake language testing.

Were the changes as expected?

The Department had foreshadowed the above changes, in general terms. However, a number of changes to Employer Sponsored and General Skilled Migration permanent residence were also announced as part of the 1 July changes, which had not been disclosed in advance.

Permanent Employer Sponsorship (ENS and RSMS)

For the Direct Entry (DE), the following changes were made:

  • Maximum age of 44 years of age for applicants.
  • Removal of exemptions for English testing and skills. Applicants must sit for an English test and obtain a positive skills assessment, regardless of their income.

For the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT), the changes were:

  • Higher English requirement: Competent English is required.
  • Genuine Position: Employers must now show that there is a genuine need for a paid employee in the position.

General Skilled Migration

All applicants for General Skilled Migration must be under 45 at the date of invitation.

What's next?

The occupation lists will continue to be subject to 6-monthly review. Caveats on occupations now apply to both the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and the Employer Nominated Scheme (subclass 186) – Direct Entry Stream.

Full implementation of the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa will be complete by March 2018. The TSS visa will include increased English language requirements, stricter labour market testing and a test to ensure employers are not discriminating against Australian workers.

From March next year, employers nominating a worker for a TSS visa will be required to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund to support additional education and training for Australian workers. Employers must continue to show they are making every effort to employ and train Australians in their businesses.

Business Migration changes from 1 July 2017

Visa Subclass Effective 1 July 2017
Age Skill English Occupation List
186 DE Under 45 Skills assessment + 3 years Competent English STSOL or MLTSSL
187 DE Under 45 Skill Level 1, 2, 3 Competent English Schedule 1 IMMI17/058
186 TRT Under 50 2 years on 457 visa Competent English Approved 457 Occupation
187 TRT Under 50 2 years on 457 visa Competent English Approved 457 Occupation
189 Under 45 Skills assessment + Point Test Competent English MLTSSL
189 NZ Exempt Exempt Exempt Exempt
190/489/485 Under 45 Skills assessment + Point Test Competent English STSOL + MLTSSL

Business Migration changes from 1 March 2018 to be confirmed

Visa Subclass Effective 1 March 2018
Age Skill English Occupation List
186 DE Under 45 Skills assessment + 3 years Competent English MLTSSL
187 DE Under 45 Skill Levels 1, 2, 3 Competent English Schedule 1 IMMI17/058
186 TRT Under 45 3 years on eligible visa (TBC*) Competent English TBC*
187 TRT Under 45 3 years on eligible visa (TBC*) Competent English TBC*
189 Under 45 Skills assessment + Point Test Competent English MLTSSL
189 NZ Exempt Exempt Exempt Meet income threshold unless exempt
190/489/485 Under 45 Skills assessment + Point Test Competent English STSOL + MLTSSL

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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