Since April last year, the Australian Government has been rolling out reforms to the country’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration program. The primary change will be the replacement of the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (457 Visa) with the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa (TSS).
The abolishment of the 457 Visa will be fully implemented by March 2018. The change has been done in an effort to reduce discrimination against local workers, and boost the quality of Australia’s skilled migration program.
Several reforms have taken place between April 2017 and January 2018. These include the significant reduction of the occupation lists for skilled migration visas. 216 occupations have been removed, with 435 remaining. The Department of Employment is tasked with reviewing the lists every six months.
The TSS Visa
There are two main streams to the TSS Visa, namely, the short-term and medium-term streams.
Employers may utilise the short-term stream where they are looking to source genuine temporary overseas skilled workers. The occupations in which these workers can be employed in must be included on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) (once known as the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List [CSOL]). Visas are valid for two years, and are renewable only once for a further two years.
Examples of occupations listed on the STSOL include:
- Primary school teacher or private tutor
- General plumber
- Retail pharmacist
The medium-term stream is useful for employers seeking highly skilled overseas workers. These workers must be employed in occupations included on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) (previously known as the Skilled Occupations List [SOL]). The visa is valid for four years, and permanent residency may be applied for after three years.
Several examples of occupations featured on the MLTSSL list include:
- Nurse practitioner or registered nurse
- Social worker
- Special education / needs, early childhood or secondary school teacher
Key facts for employers
The TSS Visa comes with strict requirements, including the following that are relevant for employers:
- applicants must have at least two years’ work experience in the relevant skilled occupation.
- compulsory labour market testing (unless an international trade obligation applies).
- employers to undergo a non-discriminatory workforce test.
- mandatory payment contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund; $1200 is payable per year for small businesses (those with an annual turnover of less than $10 million), while all other businesses must pay $1800 yearly. This is payable in full at the moment the worker is nominated.
For more information as to the TSS Visa and the temporary employer sponsored skilled visa program, visit https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/WorkinginAustralia/Documents/abolition-replacement-457.pdf.
 Note that chefs are included in the MTSS; for details visit http://www.visabureau.com/australia/medium-and-long-term-strategic-skills-list.aspx.