Proposed changes to permanent employer sponsored skilled visas are due to commence in March 2018. Proposed bills are currently before parliament and in draft consultation. So what should we expect to see?

Eligible Occupation Codes

Employer sponsored permanent residency visa pathways under the Direct Entry stream will only be available for the occupation codes listed on the Medium & Long-Term Strategic Skilled List. There may be additional occupation codes available for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).

Minimum Salaries

Minimum salary thresholds are currently applicable to the 457 visa program only. This requirement in addition to the market salary rate requirement will also be introduced for employer-sponsored permanent visa applications.

Eligibility Period Extended to Three Years

Temporary work visa holders will need to work for their sponsor at least three years instead of the current two years before they can to apply for an employer-sponsored permanent residency application.

Three Years Work Experience

Applicants applying for the ENS and RSMS must have at least three years relevant work experience relevant to their nominated occupation code at the time of application.

Age

The age limit for the employer-sponsored permanent residency (ENS) will be 45.

Skilling Australia Fund

The existing training benchmark requirements will effectively be replaced with the nomination training contribution charges under the Skilling Australians Fund if the proposed bills are passed. Under the proposed bills, employers will need to pay the nomination training contribution charge for each employee they wish to nominate under the employer-sponsored permanent residency visa program.

Under the Skilling Australians Fund, small businesses (turnover of less than $10m) will need to pay $1,200 per year for each person they wish to sponsor under the new Temporary Skill Shortages (TSS) visa program. Large businesses (turnover of at least $10m) will need to pay $1,800 per year for each worker.

For the ENS and RSMS, small businesses will need to pay $3,000 for each nominated employee and large businesses will need to pay $5,000.

Grandfathering Arrangement for Eligible 457 Visa Holders

The Department of Immigration has released grandfathering provisions for the following 457 visa holders:

  • Anyone who was holding a 457 visa on 18 April 2017 and have not changed their employer or position since then.
  • Anyone who applied for a 457 visa before 18 April 2017, and was subsequently granted a 457 visa and have not changed their employer or position since then.

The proposed grandfathering provisions are as follows:

  1. Occupation requirements will remain the same;
  2. The current age limit (under 50) will remain the same; and
  3. The current requirement of the two-year employment on a 457 visa with the same sponsor will remain the same sponsor.