Skilled migration program Subclass 186 and Subclass 187 – Changes from March 2018 and Grandfathering arrangements

Following the government’s announcement to overhaul the skilled migration program in April 2017, incremental changes continue to be introduced with the next big change occurring 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:

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.

Minimum market salary rate: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), currently $53,900.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Grandfathering arrangements

The above changes will be overridden by “Grandfathering” arrangements, when applying for permanent residency under the Temporary Residence Transition stream. Grandfathering is only available to people who held, or had applied for, a Subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017. Under Grandfathering arrangements:

Occupation lists: The occupation requirements will remain the same.  That is, there are no restrictions as long as the nominee continues to work in the same position for the same employer as approved for their subclass 457 visa;

Age: The age requirement will remain at less than 50 years of age; and

Work experience and Residency: The work experience requirement, and the requirement to have worked at least two out of the three years prior to nomination on a subclass 457, will remain at two years.

The upcoming changes in March 2018 will significantly delay or eliminate the opportunity to apply for a permanent work visa. If you think you will be impacted by the upcoming changes, we recommend that you speak to a migration agent today. It’s not too late to discuss your visa options. Please call (07) 5526 6869 or email for an appointment.