Australian migration update – 2018 changes

Introduction of the new temporary sponsored parent visa

Although this visa was to be introduced in late 2017, there have been delays. The Bill enabling this visa to come into effect has not yet been approved by the Senate.

For more information about this visa, please see: http://www.swiftmigrationaustralia.com/new-temporary-parent-visa-update/

Changes to Partner visas

The introduction of a two-step application process was proposed to begin in 2017, but has now been deferred. The change is dependent on the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 (Cth) being enabled by the Senate.

If this legislative change is introduced, all sponsors will be required to be approved as a sponsor before a visa application can be lodged. Prospective sponsors will be assessed on their immigration history and criminal history.

Currently, all sponsors are required to submit police clearances for all countries they have lived in for 12 or more months in the past 10 years. The introduction of a sponsorship approval step prior to visa lodgement could significantly impact onshore Subclass 820/801 applications, where the visa applicant’s visa is soon expiring and timing is critical.

The Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) has not yet released information on whether sponsorship approval needs to be granted prior to lodging a visa, or whether both applications can be simultaneously submitted. In the former case, we can foresee a number of complications given the considerable time required to obtain police clearances from some countries and the uncertain processing time by DOHA:

  1. Delays in lodging a visa application before the expiry of the current visa, means that prospective applicants would need to apply for another visa in the meantime to remain in Australia, or leave the country before their visa expires. This would incur extra costs and hassles;
  2. Further delays in processing partner visa applications; and
  3. There is no mention of whether there will be a sponsorship application fee. Most other sponsorship applications incur an extra fee.

Changes to Subclass 186 and Subclass 187 visas in March 2018

From March 2018, the following changes will come into effect for permanent employer sponsored skilled visas, including the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa Subclass 186 and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa Subclass 187:

  1. Occupation lists: The MLTSSL will now apply to the Direct Entry stream for both the ENS and the RSMS. Additional occupations will be available through the RSMS to support regional employers.
  2. Minimum market salary rate:Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), currently $53,900.
  3. Residency:The eligibility period to transition to permanent residence will be extended from two to three years. That is, Subclass 457 visa holders will be required to work for the same company for at least three years before becoming eligible to apply for a permanent residency visa in the Temporary Residence Transition stream.
  4. Work experience:Visa applicants will need to demonstrate at least three years’ relevant work experience prior to lodging a visa application. Whilst this requirement has always been in place for ENS visas, this is new to the RSMS visa.
  5. Age:All applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application. Previously a maximum age requirement of 50 applied.
  6. Training requirement:Employers nominating a worker for an ENS or RSMS visa will be required to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund. The contribution will be payable in full at the time the worker is nominated as follows:
  • $3,000 for small businesses (those with annual turnover of less than $10 million); and
  • $5,000 for larger businesses (annual turnover greater than $10 million).

Replacement of Subclass 457 visa with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa

From March 2018, the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa will replace the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa Subclass 457.

Under the TSS visa program, visa applicants will be granted either a Short-Term stream visa of up to two years or a Medium-Term stream visa of up to four years. The visa stream is dependent on whether the visa applicant’s occupation is listed on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List

(MLTSSL) or Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL). Unlike the Subclass 457 visa, a pathway to becoming an Australian permanent resident will only be available to applicants under the Medium-Term stream only.

More information on the upcoming changes can be found at: http://www.swiftmigrationaustralia.com/new-temporary-skill-shortage-tss-visa-will-replace-temporary-work-skilled-visa-subclass-457/

Citizenship changes

After failing to introduce a new Citizenship Bill last year, the government is taking steps to introduce an amended Bill on 1 July 2018. Possible changes may include an increased level of English proficiency, capping the number of times an applicant can sit the citizenship test and changes to the residency requirement.

Applications already lodged will not be affected. They will be assessed under current requirements.

Our general advice to clients is to lodge an application as soon as you meet the requirements, as future legislative changes may impede your ability to qualify for a visa. If you have any questions regarding an Australian visa or Australian citizenship, please feel free to contact us on hp@swiftmigrationaustralia.com or phone 07 5526 6869.