Transitional arrangements for 457 visa holders to permanent employer sponsored visas revealed

Recently, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) updated their Fact Sheet on upcoming visa reforms. This includes providing information on the anticipated grandfathering arrangements for Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa holders to access the Temporary Residence Transition Stream of the employer sponsored permanent visas: the Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa and the Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa. The Temporary Residence Transition Stream is only available to primary 457 visa holders who were nominated by a Standard Business Sponsor.

While nothing is definite until it is law, a working assumption was that only occupations on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will be able to apply for a permanent employer sponsored visa from March 2018. However, this now appears to only apply to Direct Entry stream visa applications. If this turns out to be true, the grandfathering arrangements will have a more subdued effect.

It later states that for 457 visa holders and those who had applied for a 457 visa on 18 April 2017, will be able to access existing provisions under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, including:

  • Not requiring the nominated occupation to be on any list,
  • Requiring the primary applicant’s age to be no less than 50 at the time of application, and
  • Requiring the primary applicant to have been employed in the nominated position for at least two of the last three years while holding a 457 visa prior to being nominated, with unpaid leave not counting.

With such vague wording, questions still linger. Firstly, it is hopeful this applies to all 457 visa applications lodged before 18 April 2017 and not just on 18 April 2017!

Secondly, for those who were granted a 457 visa on or after 18 April 2017 and whose occupation was on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), most, if not all, would have been granted a two-year visa. For those visa holders to be eligible, they would have to start their employment the day their 457 visa was approved, cannot take any unpaid leave while holding a 457 visa, and would have to lodge their nomination and permanent visa applications the day their 457 visa expires to meet the work experience requirements.

Thirdly, there is no information for those 457 visa holders who were subsequently nominated by a different employer, nor for those subsequently nominated in a different occupation. It is possible they will miss out.

The particular fact sheet should be taken with a healthy serving of caution, as until the regulations are released, everything, including a fact sheet, is open to amendments.