New occupation lists for many visas are now in force. Whereas previously one or two lists covered numerous subclasses, there are now six separate occupation lists.
Training (subclass 407) visas. This list applies to nominations made on or after 1 July 2017.
Temporary Work (subclass 457) visas. This list applies to nominations made on or after 1 July 2017; or made and not finally determined before 1 July 2017 regardless of whether, for a nomination in relation to an applicant for a visa, the application was made before, on or after 1 July 2017.
Graduate (subclass 485) visas under the Graduate Work stream (Medium and Long‑term Strategic Skills List only). This list commences on 1 July 2017.
Skilled - Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa (Medium and Long‑term Strategic Skills List only). This list commences on 1 July 2017.
Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visas. This list applies to nominations lodged on or after 1 July 2017.
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visas. This list applies to nominations made on or after 1 July 2017 or any nomination lodged before 1 July 2017 and not finally determined.
Independent Skilled (subclass 189) visas (Medium and Long‑term Strategic Skills List only). This list commences on 1 July 2017.
Nominated (Skilled) (subclass 190) visas (Medium and Long‑term Strategic Skills List and Short‑term Skilled Occupation List). This list commences on 1 July 2017.
General Skilled Migration visas, which are considered the 485, 489, 189 and 190 visas are the only ones now tied to the one list, however, as it was previously, different lists (previously known as schedules) applied to different subclasses and even different classes of nominees.
Grumblings about the lawfulness of caveats applying to occupations now appear to be resolved. It was thought that the delegated power for the Minister to specify additional conditions to occupations were unlawful. This seems to have been put to bed with a new regulation authorising these extra conditions.
Other major changes, beside training benchmarks to employer sponsored visas include:
The high-salary exemption for English for 457 visas is now abolished for any applicant other than those nominated by an overseas business and who is paid a high salary of at least AUD 96 400. This only applies to visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2017.
Mandatory police clearance certificates
These will now be requested under policy for all applicants over the age of 17.
Mandatory skill assessments for certain trades occupations expanded
Skill assessments conducted by Trades Recognition Australia for 457 visa applicants will expand, meaning that unless a policy exemption applies, it will be expected these will be formally requested.
186 and 187 visas
High-salary exemption for English and skills abolished
Not previously mentioned in proposed reforms was that the high-income salary exemption for skills and English for permanent employer sponsored visas has been abolished. This will apply to any visa application not finally determined.
This means those applications relying on being nominated for a high salary (at least AUD 180 001) to not require a positive skill assessment or English language test, unless they can be exempt another way, will need to obtain these, and, should be prepared to lodge a new visa application as these are required at the time of visa application.
This seems particularly harsh when the high-salary exemption for English for 457 visas remain for applicants whose application was lodged before 1 July 2017.
The age of a 186 and 187 visa primary visa applicant under the Direct Entry stream must now be less than 45 years of age from 1 July 2017. Exemptions apply for certain academics, Special Category (subclass 444) and New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) (subclass 461) visa holders who have worked with their employer for at least two years in the last three (unpaid leave not counting) and some medical practitioners.
The age exemption for Temporary Residence Transition stream applicants over 50 remains the same.
While the high salary exemption for English for 186 and 187 visas, as stated above have been abolished, there is some relief. Vocational English was replaced with the higher standard of competent English, however, an exemption for 186 and 187 primary applicants for the Temporary Residence Transition stream now exists for those who have completed at least five years of full-time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where all of the tuition was delivered in English. This is considered an “exemption”. It was previously listed as an exemption for vocational English.
Demonstrating the need for a paid employee
Nominations for 186 and 187 under the Temporary Residence Transition stream visas will be required to demonstrate that the need for a paid employee under their direct control is genuine.
Identifying visa applicants in nominations
Lastly, nominations for a 186 or 187 visa under the Direct Entry stream will now require the visa applicant to be identified.
What does this all mean for employer sponsored visas? Tougher criteria to meet to say the least.