What is the change? Australia has published regulations to overhaul key high-skilled visa programmes.

What does the change mean? Effective March 18, the Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) visa will replace the Subclass 457 visa. Applicants will need to satisfy new criteria, including criteria related to work experience, English language skills, salary minimums and police clearance. Related changes to the Subclass 186 and 187 visa programmes will also take effect. Transitional arrangements may be available.

  • Implementation timeframe: 18 March.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visas, Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass186), and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187).
  • Who is affected: Companies sponsoring foreign workers under the Subclass 457, ENS or RSMS programmes and employers planning on recruiting foreign workers on TSS visas.
  • Business impact: Tighter requirements may limit the skilled employees that companies will be able to sponsor for visas. Businesses will also need to budget for the pending implementation of a new skills levy that will fund programmes to train Australian workers.

Key changes: The Introduction of the Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) visa.

The TSS visa will replace the Subclass 457 visa 18 March. The visa will have three streams: short-term, valid for up to two years (or up to four years if the two-year limitation would be inconsistent with an international trade obligation); medium-term, valid for up to four years; and the labour-agreement stream, which will allow employers to sponsor foreign workers for a visa pursuant to a labour agreement with the Australian Government.

To be eligible for TSS visas, applicants will have to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Work experience: The primary applicant must have at least two years of relevant work experience.
  • English language testing: Applicants in the short-term stream will require an International Language Testing score (or the equivalent) of 5 overall, with a minimum score of 4.5 in each test component. Applicants in the medium-term stream will require a score of 5 overall, with a minimum score of 5 in each component.
  • Minimum salary: Applicants must be paid at least the required salary under the annual market salary rate (AMSR) and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold.
  • Police clearance: Applicants will be required to provide police clearance certificates where applicable.

Sponsors may be subject to non-discriminatory workforce tests to ensure employers are not discriminating against Australian workers. Officials previously clarified that the tests will not be conducted for all TSS applicants. Tests can be expected in cases where a company’s workforce does not match the industry norm, for example, in situations where sponsored workers are far greater than the number of Australian workers.

Labour Market Testing will be mandatory for TSS visa applications, but details on how positions must be advertised have not been finalised. A new Skilling Australians Fund for training Australian workers will also be introduced. Legislation authorising collection of a fee from employers to fund the skilling of Australian workers has also not yet been finalised.

Key changes: ENS and RSMS visa programmes.

The regulations make related changes to the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (subclass 187) programmes. Applicants will have to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Occupation lists: The nominee’s job must be on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) unless the employer is in a regional area (for which more occupations will be available).
  • Minimum salaries: Employers must pay the nominee the annual market salary rate (AMSR) and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold.
  • Residency period: Workers under the Temporary Residence Transition stream will become eligible for permanent residency after three years (instead of the current two years).
  • Work experience: The employee must demonstrate at least three years of work experience relevant to the particular occupation. This does not substitute for the required work experience required by ANZSCO for the nominated occupation.
  • Age limit: All applicants must be below the maximum age of 45 at the time of application (instead of the current maximum age of 50). Authorities have yet to confirm whether certain exemptions will continue to exist.

Nominees may be eligible for transitional arrangements. Employers in both subclasses will also be required to contribute to the Skilling Australians Fund once it is implemented.

BAL Analysis: Employers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the information that is available about the forthcoming changes. BAL continues to review the regulations and will provide additional information as it becomes available. Please contact your BAL professional for questions about transitional arrangements.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 0101248

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