In this skilled visa update, we will be exploring the new skilled visa changes particularly in regards to:
- Global Talent Scheme (GTS) pilot launched **NEW**
- The Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) increase
- 1 July 2018 changes to online skilled forms
- Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) legislation update
- Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa update
- Permanent Skilled visa update
- Labour Agreements update
- New Zealand police checks
This post includes the 1 July 2018 implementation of:
- the Global Talent Scheme (GTS) pilot launch
- changes to the online skilled application forms
- a new pass mark for the skilled migration points test.
The proposed changes are consistent with the Government’s announcement of 18 April 2017.
The Department of Home Affairs is also in the final stages of preparing for implementation of Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) changes in this quarter of 2018, with the exact implementation date impacted by legislative and systems release processes and timeframes.
Global Talent Scheme (GTS) pilot launched
The GTS pilot was launched on 1 July 2018 and will run for 12 months, with the first GTS agreement already in place.
Where no suitable Australians are available, businesses will now have the opportunity to sponsor highly-skilled overseas workers with niche skills that are not covered by the short-term and medium-term streams of the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) program. The GTS will have two streams:
- Established Business stream allows employers who are accredited sponsors to employ highly-skilled individuals with cutting-edge skills to contribute to innovation in an established business, and help make Australian businesses and their Australian employees the best at what they do.
- Start-up stream allows employers to sponsor highly-skilled individuals with cutting-edge skills to contribute to Australia’s start-up ecosystem and bring new ideas, new jobs, new skills and new technology for Australia. This stream is for start-ups operating in a technology based or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related field and meet certain criteria.
In both instances, a four-year TSS visa will be issued with the option to apply for permanent residence after three years.
The Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) increase
The Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) was increased on 1 July 2018 from AUD142,000 to AUD145,400.
1 July 2018 changes to online skilled forms
Changes were made on 1 July 2018 to the online TSS, ENS and RSMS visa application forms, including changed questions on forms, and changed requirements in relation to interviews and biometrics.
Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) legislation update
The Migration (Skilling Australians Fund) Charges Bill 2017 and Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2017 passed Parliament on 9 May 2018 and came into effect on 12 August 2018.
Note: There will be no exemptions for the SAF levy, except for religious workers nominated under the Labour Agreement (LA) streams of the TSS or ENS visas. All other sponsors, including those who are party to a labour agreement, must also pay the SAF levy.
Where required to be paid, the SAF levy is now being charged on any new nomination lodged under the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS), Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa programs. The SAF levy will be payable in full at the time of lodging a nomination application in ImmiAccount.
Further additional changes to the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visa program were also implemented on 12 August 2018, these include:
a. Changes to Labour Market Testing (LMT) arrangements, specifically regarding the period, manner and evidence of labour market testing) published to specify the form in which LMT must be undertaken
b. While nominated positions must be full-time, there is however now a discretion to approve part-time positions if supported by a strong business case. More information is available on this in the TSS Nominations Procedural Instructions (PI).
c. Ensuring that an approved nomination does not cease before processing of an associated TSS visa application is completed, including merits review (even if this is longer than 12 months provided none of the other cessation events has occurred).
In addition to the above, any residual training benchmarks/compliance requirements have also been removed for new ENS/RSMS nomination applications where previously applicable (noting pipeline applications will still need to be assessed against requirements in place at the time of lodgement).
It is noted, however, that requirements relating to the manner in which LMT must be conducted have already been implemented under policy. The SAF Act imposes the following requirements for nominations lodged from the date of implementation:
- the duration of the LMT undertaken will need to be four weeks, and
- LMT, where required, will need to have been undertaken within four months immediately prior to lodgement.
It is expected that some cohorts will continue to be able to provide alternative evidence of LMT.
Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa update
TSS visa processing times
As expected processing times for the TSS visa are much quicker than for the previous Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa program – with 75% of applications currently being processed within:
- 57 days for the short term stream
- 55 days for the medium term stream
- 28 days for the labour agreement stream.
Linking new TSS visa nomination to a pending subclass 457 visa application
Many are continuing to enquire whether it is possible to link a new TSS visa nomination to a pending subclass 457 visa application which is not at merits/judicial review. The simple answer is that this cannot be done under the Migration Regulations, specifically regulation 2.72. Applicants in these situations should consider their eligibility for a TSS visa and may also wish to consider withdrawing their pending subclass 457 visa application.
Condition 8607 only applies to the new TSS visa, not existing subclass 457 visa holders. As a result, existing subclass 457 visa holders do not need to apply for a new visa in order to work in a new occupation. This new requirement only applies to TSS primary visa holders subject to 8607 condition.
Permanent Skilled visa update
General Skilled Migration changes
As of 1 July 2018, the pass mark for the skilled migration points test is 65 points.
- This applies to migrants interested in applying for the following visas:
- Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189)
- Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
- Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489)
- The maximum age for claiming points for skilled partners has also been reduced from ‘under 50’ to ‘under 45’ years of age.
- Intending migrants who were invited to apply for a visa before 1 July 2018, based on achieving a score of 60 and/or claiming points for a skilled partner who is under 50 years of age, will still be considered against the pre 1 July 2018 provisions.
- The related policy instruction for the points test for general skilled migration is being reviewed and will be published as soon as available. The relevant website pages, however, have already been updated.
The subclass 189 points tested visa stream and subclass 489 invitation rounds have traditionally been run fortnightly. The Department has reviewed this process and will now extend invitations on a monthly basis. The invitation numbers will be increased accordingly, to ensure the number of applications received will maintain a strong pipeline for the skilled program. There are no other changes being implemented aside from moving to a monthly invitation process.
Beneficial interpretation of ENS/RSMS nomination provisions – TRT stream
The Department continues to apply a beneficial ‘wider interpretation’ in relation to the ‘direct control’ provisions (as per Regulation 5.19(3)(a)(iv) and 5.19(3)(i)). Advice on this matter was removed from the relevant Procedural Instruction (PI) on 18 March 2018, but will be returned in the new August decision of the PI and continues to apply during the interim period. In essence, this approach ensures that an original Standard Business Sponsor can nominate their subclass 457/TSS visa holder for permanent residence under ENS 186 and RSMS 187, despite work done for an associated entity during the two/three year period working on a subclass 457/TSS visa.
A beneficial approach will also be taken in relation to the interpretation of regulations 5.19(5)(b) and 5.19(5)(f), where a subclass 457/TSS visa holder obtains a further approved nomination, but certain elements of the nominated position have changed. In these circumstances, the period worked before the change in the position can also be counted towards the two/three year eligibility requirement. This could include where the new nomination is under the same four-digit ANZSCO code, but:
- the position has changed slightly in terms of title and tasks or
- the salary has increased over time.
Labour Agreements Update
Due to demand, the Department is currently taking up to six months to process labour agreement requests. We are, however, implementing a number of initiatives to reduce this to three months later in 2018. This includes the release of an online labour agreement request form towards the end of 2018 and a revised prioritisation matrix. Certain requests will be able to be processed much more quickly, including those lodged by regional employers or under some existing template arrangements. In the interim, we would, however, encourage organisations seeking to renew a labour agreement to apply at least three months before the expiry date. The list of current labour agreements has also been recently updated.
New Zealand police checks
All New Zealand police certificates undergo a verification process. Agents should ensure that New Zealand Ministry of Justice certificates are made out to the applicant directly (not to a channelling agency such as ‘Veritas’ or ‘Fit2Work’) and should be provided to the Department with a completed ‘Consent to Disclosure of Information’ form – where applicable.
Our office has many registered Migration agents who can assist you if you are thinking about coming to Australia to study. Please email or call our office to discuss your study options today.
T: +61 3 9670 4033
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