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Changes to Skilled Occupations Lists - Essential Information

The last few weeks have seen a major shakeup in the Australian visa landscape. Big changes have been made to the skilled occupations lists from 19 April.


These changes will affect those applying for:


• Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 Visa

• General Skilled Migration Visas

• Permanent Employer Sponsored Visas.


In this article, I will outline:


• The changes to the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) and Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL);

• The impact on General Skilled Migration, 457 visas, the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme(RSMS) Visa; and

• My personal opinion on the changes.


So, what changes have been made to the occupations lists and how will these affect Australian visa applicants?


Changes to the Skilled Occupations List (SOL)

The Skilled Occupations List has now been replaced by the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).

If you’re applying for a Skilled Independent 189 Visa, Graduate Temporary 485 Visa (Graduate Work Stream), or a Skilled Regional Provisional 489 (Family Sponsored) Visa, you must have an occupation listed on the MLTSSL.

Occupations listed on the MLTSSL are identical to the SOL. The MLTSSL is also combined with the Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) (more below). The combined STSOL-MLTSSL list is used for state nominated and employer sponsored visas. Sixteen occupations listed on the MLTSSL cannot be used for state nominated and employer sponsored visas.

Having occupations listed on the MLTSSL but not on the STSOL is an unusual move and it’s likely that further changes will take place from 1 July 2017, with these 16 occupations possibly being removed from the MLTSSL.


Changes to the Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL)

The Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (CSOL) has now been replaced by the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL). Two hundred occupations have been removed from the CSOL to create the new STSOL.

Those applying for any of the following visas must have an occupation listed on the STSOL:

• Skilled Nominated 190 Visa
• Skilled Regional Provisional 489 Visa (State Nominated)
Employer Nomination Scheme 186 Visa (Direct Entry)
Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 Visa
Training 407 Visa.

There are also 24 regional occupations on the STSOL which are only applicable for the:

• Skilled Regional Provisional 489 Visa (State Nominated);
• Employer Nomination Scheme 186 Visa;
• Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 Visa (where the employment is in a specific regional area, as for RSMS visas).


How will this affect General Skilled Migration?

There will be an impact on state nominated 190 and 489 Visas, with many occupations removed or restricted:

• 200 occupations have been removed from the STSOL;
• 16 occupations are restricted on the MLTSSL, and;
• 24 rural occupations are no longer available for the 190 Visa, but remain listed for the 489 (provisional) Visa.

Some Australian states have already announced that they will be modifying their state nomination occupations to reflect these changes.

The changes will not affect applications for the following visas:

• Skilled Independent 189 Visa
• Graduate Temporary 485 Visa (Graduate Work Stream)
• Skilled Regional Provisional 489 Visa (Family Sponsored).

Nonetheless, it’s likely that the MLTSSL will be further revised on 1 July this year and some occupations may be removed.

If you received a SkillSelect invitation before 19 April 2017, you should not be affected by these changes.


What impact will this have on 457 Visas?

On Tuesday this week, the Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 Visa* will be abolished and replaced with an entirely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa in March 2018.

Occupations listed for 457 Visa sponsorship have been reduced or restricted:

• 200 occupations removed from the STSOL
• 16 occupations restricted on the MLTSSL
• 24 regional occupations no longer available (unless included in an RSMS postcode area).

These changes will have an impact on any applications lodged but not finalised before 19 April 2017 and any applications submitted after this date.

The TSS visa programme will include a Short-Term visa stream of up to 2 years and a Medium-Term stream of up to 4 years. It aims to support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and contains a number of safeguards to protect and prioritise Australian workers.

Restrictions (known as caveats in the legislative instruments) have also been placed on certain occupations, and may affect:

• Minimum salary for the position;
• Business size (minimum of 5 employees and a $1 million AUD turnover);
• Restrictions on the activities undertaken in the position;
• Limits on the activities carried out by the business.


Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Visa

Changes to the occupations list will only affect the Direct Entry Stream of the Employer Nomination Stream (ENS) Visa, and not the Temporary Residence Transition Stream. The Direct Entry Stream requires one of the following conditions:

• A skills assessment and 3 years of work experience in the occupation;
• A base salary of at least $180,000, or;
• A family member or NZ citizen working for the employer in Australia for the last 2 years.

Occupations for the Direct Entry Stream have been reduced or restricted:

• 16 occupations restricted on the MLTSSL;
• 200 occupations removed from the STSOL.

As far we can determine, applications lodged on or after the 19 April will be affected, but pending applications should not be impacted.

It’s also possible that the Temporary Residence Transition Stream could be restricted to occupations only listed on the MLTSSL in the future. We’ll keep you updated on any developments.


RSMS Visa

At this stage, the changes to the list do not affect the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme Visa. It’s possible that future developments may include a requirement for a period of work experience of at least 3 years and a reduction on the upper age limit from 49 to 44 years old. Changes may also take place on the RSMS occupations list.


My personal opinion

I believe that the new reform will negatively affect SMEs and start-ups for two main reasons.

Firstly, from March next year every visa applicant will require two years of previous full-time work experience. This means that all university graduates will not be eligible and business sponsors will have to resort to more experienced and expensive workers to fill their skill gaps.

Secondly, the inclusion of a large number of occupations in the Short Term List (STSOL) may have a boomerang effect for businesses by discouraging skilled migrants from choosing Australia. This is because people with an occupation on the STSOL cannot apply for permanent residency after 2 years.

Why would someone invest 2 or 4 of their best years working hard for a country which doesn't want them permanently? Would you get engaged to someone who tells you you are not good enough to marry? They will migrate somewhere else. I was a migrant myself and would have never chosen Australia if I didn't have the option (not the guarantee) to stay here permanently after years of hard work, study and personal sacrifices.

I hope the government will rethink certain aspects of the reform, and put the long term interests of Australian businesses before short term political gain.


Final thoughts

These recent changes will have a major and immediate impact on employer sponsored and state nominated visas.

We’re still processing the impact of the changes and will keep you as up-to-date as possible.

It’s likely that further changes will take place affecting Skilled Independent and Permanent Employer Sponsored visas. FastVisa recommends that anyone thinking of applying for one of these visas acts now to avoid further disruptions.

For practical, balanced advice on Australian employer sponsored or general skilled visas please contact our expert team today:

+61 1300 190 773 +61 (0)406 761 469 af@fastvisa.com.au