On Tuesday 18 April, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull along with Minister of Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton announced the end of the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457) commonly known as the 457 visa, effective March 2018.

The most frequently asked questions are answered below:

What happens to the lists that contain all the different occupations that can be sponsored?

The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) will be renamed the new Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment (effective immediately).
The other occupations list used for skilled migration, the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will contain occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy and aligning to the government’s longer term training and workforce strategies (effective immediately).

Has the occupation list actually changed?
Yes. The occupation list has been significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted (effective immediately).
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 (effective 1 July 2017).

Has the duration of the 457 visa changed?
For certain occupations, yes. The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two years. Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years (effective immediately).

What are the changes on the English language requirements for the 457 visa?
The current English language salary exemption threshold, which exempts applicants whose salary is over A$96,400 from the English language requirement will be removed (effective 1 July 2017).

What are the changes to the training benchmarks for employers/sponsors?
Policy settings about the training benchmark requirement will be made clearer in legislative instruments to come (effective 1 July 2017).

Do I now need to provide evidence of a criminal record?
Yes. Provision of penal clearance certificates will become mandatory. This may include Australian and/or overseas police certificates (also known as a penal clearance certificate in some countries) (effective 1 July 2017).

Do I need to provide my tax file number?
Yes. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will commence the collection of tax file numbers for 457 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 (effective 31 December 2017).

Anything else that may affect the sponsors?
Yes. The DIBP will commence the publication of details of sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation (effective 31 December 2017).

So what happens in March 2018? What will the replacement be called?
From March 2018, the 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa. The TSS visa will comprise two streams: a Short-Term stream of up to two years, and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years.

What are the differences between the TSS Short-Term and Medium-Term visas?
The TSS Short-Term visa stream is designed for Australian businesses to fill skill gaps with foreign workers on a temporary basis, where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced. This visa lasts up to two years.
It will include the following criteria that must be met at the time of application:
Renewal: capacity for visa renewal onshore once only. Any subsequent visas will most likely need to be applied while the applicant is offshore.
Occupations: for non-regional Australia, the STSOL will apply. For regional Australia, the STSOL will apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers.
English language requirements: a requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (or equivalent test) score of 5, with a minimum of 4.5 in each test component.
Genuine entry: a genuine temporary entrant requirement.
The TSS Medium-Term visa stream allows employers to source foreign workers to address shortages in a narrower range of high skill and critical need occupations, where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced. This visa lasts up to four years.
It will include the following criteria that must be met at the time of application:
Renewal: capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years.
Occupation lists: for non-regional Australia – the MLTSSL will apply. For regional Australia – the MLTSSL will apply, with additional occupations available to support regional employers.
English language requirements: a requirement of a minimum of IELTS 5 (or equivalent test) in each test component.

Any further eligibility criteria that will affect both Short-Term and Medium-Term streams?
Yes. They include the following criteria that must be met at the time of application:
Work experience: at least two years’ relevant work experience.
Labour market testing (LMT): LMT will be mandatory, unless an international obligation applies.
Minimum market salary rate: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold requirements.
Character: Mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.
Workforce: A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers.
Training requirement: a strengthened training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers.
The detailed policy settings for several of these requirements will be finalised through the implementation process. Further details on these requirements to inform stakeholders will be available in due course.

What will this cost me?
The DIBP fees are as follows:
TSS Medium-Term Stream: A$2,400 per applicant
TSS Short-Term Stream: A$1,1500 per applicant

Can I get permanent residency?
The TSS Short-Term visa program will offer no prospect of permanent residency. However TSS Medium-Term visa holders will be able to apply for permanent residency.

Who is affected right now?
Current 457 visa applicants and holders, prospective applicants, businesses sponsoring skilled migrants and industry. Existing 457 visas will continue to remain in effect.
457 visa applicants that had lodged their application on or before 18 April 2017, and whose application had not yet been decided, with an occupation that has been removed from the STSOL, may be eligible for a refund of their visa application fee. Nominating businesses for these applications may also be eligible for a refund of related fees.

Why are these changes being made?
According to the decision-makers of this change, these measures will sharpen the focus of Australia’s employer-sponsored skilled migration programmes to ensure they better meet Australia’s skills needs, increase the quality and economic contribution of skilled migrants, and address public concerns about the displacement of Australian workers.

What about my circumstances?
The circumstances are different for each of the following six cases:
You are currently on a 457 Visa (four years)
You are currently on a 457 Visa (one and a half years)
You have applied for a 457 Visa
You have not yet applied for a 457 Visa
Your occupation is listed on the STSOL
Your occupation is listed on the MLTSSL

About Andreas Athanasiou
Andreas Athanasiou was born in Chania, Greece in 1987 and relocated permanently to Melbourne in 2001. He is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN: 1685134) and General Manager at Katsaros & Associates, located at Level 8, 140 Queen Street, Melbourne, VIC.
Andreas can give you expert advice on any of the available 75+ Australian visas, including visitor visas, working holiday visas, business visas, investor visas, skilled visas, temporary work visas, student visas, partner visas, protection visas, bridging visas and MRT appeals.
For further information visit
facebook.com/katsarosandassociates, call (03) 9670 3663 or email andreas@katsaros.com.au with your full name, phone number, current location and brief description of your circumstances.