Fair Work High income threshold increases, Occupation Lists with errors

As the dusts settles on the changes that occurred on 1 July 2015, it should be noted that there has been a couple of changes that may affect current visa holders and potential visa applicants.

The first is that the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) increased on 1 July 2015 from AUD 133 000 to AUD 136 700. While this threshold is more applicable to unfair dismissal matters and not immigration law, it would be of extreme importance to 457 visa holders who are 50 years of age or older. This is because in order to qualify for a permanent employer sponsored visa either through the Employer Nomination Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, their annual earning must be at least this threshold amount for each of the four years they are sponsored by the one Australian business before they can make this application. Earnings can generally include allowances and non-monetary benefits that have an agreed value, but does not include payments that cannot be determined in advance such as performance bonuses, overtime, or compulsory superannuation.

The other big thing to note is that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have conceded that they may have left out some important occupations in their new Skilled Occupation Lists.

The first is Primary School Teachers was omitted from the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List, and that Child Care Group Leader (Aus) was omitted from the newly created list of occupations that a person must be nominated for before they apply for a Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa under the Direct Entry Stream. The Explanatory Statement for that list says that it was designed to affect one occupation only, which we now know to be that of Minister of Religion. Lastly, both New Zealand Citizens (subclass 444) and eligible family members (subclass 461) visa holders are eligible for skill exemptions for the subclass 196 Direct Entry Stream visas as well.

It is expected that Immigration will be releasing new occupation lists to confirm these changes and have these backdated to apply from applications received from 1 July 2015. I am sure a few affected people will be relieved to know that.