The Australian Government has introduced a raft of changes to skilled migration eligibility criteria with view to making the immigration programme more responsive to, and reflective of, the genuine skill needs of the Australian labour market. Many of these changes have already been implemented, with more scheduled for 2017 – 2018.
The biggest changes relate to the subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa, implemented in anticipation of it being phased out in March 2018. From March 2018, you can apply for the new Temporary Skills Shortage visa (TSS) which will include two visa streams with the potential for a visa grant of up to 4 years (cumulatively for two-year Short-term Stream visa holders who may make an onshore visa renewal for a further two years). The most significant difference between the two streams is that only the Medium-term Stream offers you a permanent visa pathway after three years.
Another major reform relates to the occupation lists which will now be “updated” every six months. Potentially, this means that your occupation could be included on, or removed from, the list every six months. A massive 200 occupations were removed from the lists and 16 occupations restricted to specified visa programmes in April 2017, with subclass 457 eligibility under some occupations subject to inapplicability conditions. A nightmare for those of you who made an application for an occupation that was removed before a decision could be made or that is now beyond your reach because you cannot meet the new conditions.
If you are applying for a subclass 457 visa and counting on not having to meet the English language requirement because your salary would be over $96,400 – bad news! This exemption is no longer available to you. Unless you are eligible for another exemption, you will have to meet this requirement. For subclass 186 and 187 permanent employer sponsored skilled visas, you must now achieve and IELTS score of 6 in each component. If you intend to make a TSS application, you will have to achieve an IELTS score of 5 (minimum of 4.5 in each test component).
The subclass 186 and 187 Direct Entry visa age criterion has been revised down to under 45 years. All other subclass 186 and 187 streams will follow suit in March 2018. So, if you are approaching 45, your window of opportunity is closing.
The uncertainty created by these many changes is more than just a little unsettling. As always, you need to protect your interests. This is best done by engaging the help of a registered migration agent who is abreast of the changes and can guide you through this difficult process. Feel free to contact me to discuss your immigration situation.
Together we can negotiate the red-tape nightmare to give you the best opportunity of achieving your dreams.