Starting March 2018, changes are being implemented to make sure that businesses have the critical skills they need where no skilled Australian worker is available.
There are three options under the new visa program known as Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa
Short-term stream – for employers to hire genuine temporary overseas skilled workers in occupations found on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) for a maximum of two years (or up to four years if an international trade obligation applies).
Medium-term stream – for employers to hire highly skilled overseas workers to fill medium-term critical skills in occupations found on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)* for up to four years, with eligibility to apply for permanent residence after three years.
Labour Agreement stream – for employers to hire overseas skilled workers in a labour agreement with the Commonwealth, on the basis that the Australian labour market cannot meet the demand and standard visa programs are not available. Permanent residence option can be negotiated under this stream.
A broader range of occupations will be available in regional Australia.
At the time of lodging a TSS nomination application, employers need to select an employment period of up to one year or two years for the short-term stream (unless an international trade obligation applies); and one year, two years, three years or four years for the medium-term or labour agreements stream.
- a new standard five-year sponsorship agreement period (including for start-ups)
- auto-approval of complete streamlined lower-risk nomination applications lodged by accredited sponsors
- a new streamlined ‘renewal process’ for existing sponsors; a shorter application form to fill out and possible auto-approval of such sponsorship applications; new online forms for the new TSS visa; a complete review of correspondence to ensure that TSS templates are easier to use and understand.
It is important that sponsors are accredited to avail of priority processing and streamlining processing arrangements. Subclass 457 nomination applications lodged by accredited sponsors are now generally processed in less than five days.
Understanding the transition from subclass 457 to TSS
Employers who are already approved standard business sponsors for subclass 457 will be able to sponsor skilled overseas workers under the TSS visa program.
Here are the transitional arrangements subject to final approval
- If complete subclass 457 nomination and visa applications are both lodged before the end of February, they will be processed under the current framework.
- If a subclass 457 nomination application is lodged without 457 visa application being lodged before the start of TSS, it will become ‘redundant’ as subclass 457 nominations cannot be linked to TSS visa applications, even where the nomination has already been approved. Arrangements will be in place to ensure that such ‘redundant applications’ can be finalised and/or withdrawn with a refund of the fee provided.
- Secondary visa applicants of 457 visa holders or pending 457 visa applicants can lodge a subsequent dependent TSS application and will be granted a TSS visa linked to their family’s subclass 457 visa/nomination application. The validity period of the TSS visa will match the expiry date of the subclass 457 primary visa holder.
- Subclass 457 visa holders, whose visa is not expiring but wish to change employer after the implementation of TSS, can get their new employer to lodge a TSS nomination application to facilitate this as per current arrangements.
- Subclass 457 visa holders who wish to change occupation or need a new visa with longer validity, will need to lodge a new TSS visa application with a new TSS nomination application.
Labour Market Testing (LMT) for TSS
There will be no more exemptions to LMT to ensure that employers try to find qualified Australians before they can seek to employ overseas skilled workers on a TSS visa.
Sponsors are expected to test the local labour market before using the subclass 457 program (except where international trade obligations apply) and the requirements will be met by employers who advertise key job details in English via a medium that has sufficient national coverage.
Salary and conditions arrangement for TSS
Sponsors seeking to employ an overseas worker at a salary of under AUD250,000 will need to provide additional information to demonstrate that they are going to pay the market salary rate to ensure that overseas workers are protected and the local labour market is not undercut.