Skilled Occupation Lists

For the purposes of skilled migration, the Australian government is guided by the National Skills Commission's classification of occupations into lists to address Australian workforce labour shortages. These include:

  • The Short-Term Skill Occupation List (STSOL) addressing short-term shortages
  • Medium and Long-term Skilled Occupation List (MLTSSL)
  • Regional Occupation List (ROL) addressing labour shortage in regional Australia.

The lists are subject to yearly review with occupations being added or removed, causing uncertainty for visa holders wanting a defined pathway to permanent residency.

Employer Nomination Scheme

The Employer Nomination Scheme has three streams leading an applicant to permanent residency through employer nomination. These streams include Temporary Resident Transition (TRT), Labour Agreement and Direct Entry.

Regulation 5.19 of the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) details employer nomination requirements for skilled temporary visa holders in the three visa streams. Specifically, Regulation 5.19 (5) to (8) empowers the Minister of Home Affairs to define the class of persons eligible for nomination under the 186 TRT and Direct Entry streams.

On 18 March 2022, the then Minister utilised his power, confirming permanent residency pathway through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Temporary Resident Transition (TRT) stream would be expanded to eligible skilled visa holders who remained employed in Australia at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 1 July 2022, the eligible skilled visa holders include:

  • Individuals who remained in Australia for one year during 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 and held;
  • a Temporary Skills Shortage (subclass 482) visa in the Short Term Stream or
  • an individual who held or applied for a 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa on or after 18 April 2017.

The Australian Government confirmed this pathway would be available for two years from the date of the announcement. Additionally, the Minister provided further concessions for the calculation of work experience requirements due to COVID unpaid leave and COVID reduced work period.

Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme

Traditionally, the Regional Sponsored Migration Stream (RSMS) (Subclass 187) provided a pathway to permanent residency for applicants nominated by their employer in regional Australia whose occupation appeared on the Regional Occupation List (ROL).

The RSMS employer nomination requirements for the TRT stream required an applicant to live and work for their 482 employer in regional Australia for a period of three years prior to lodgement.

The Australian Government closed this pathway to permanent residency on 16 November 2019, leaving 482 visa holders who were nominated by their employer for an occupation on the regional occupation list with no pathway to permanent residency.

On 13 February 2023, the Minister confirmed that the 1 July 2022 category of eligible skilled visa holders for nomination under the 186 TRT stream would capture individuals who held a short-term TSS visa (Subclass 482) and nominated occupation appeared on the Regional Occupation List (ROL).

The latest expansion of the pathway to permanent residency for regional skilled workers recognises the important contribution skilled workers made to regional Australian communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.