February 2018 Visas and Immigration Wrap Up

2018 Australia Visa and Immigration News

February 2018 Visas and Immigration Wrap Up

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]2018 Australia Visa and Immigration News

Australia 2018 visas and immigration news. March is coming and so the inevitable changes to skilled visa (the transition of subclass 457 to 482 visa or TSS visa; the effects they will have to 186 (ENS) and 187 (RSMS) visa applicants etc) are getting closer.

TSS Visa

Date of Introduction

Although it won’t roll automatically on March 1, it’s only a matter of time before TSS visa or subclass 482 commence. The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that it will start somewhere in the first half of March.

Genuine Temporary Entrant

TSS visa applicants will require to provide Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) just like student visa applicants do. This requirement is an integrity measure to ensure the skill shortage program is used as intended and not as a way to maintain ongoing residency in Australia. The Department considered the GTE met unless the applicant has a history of holding a number of short-term visas over the last 4-5 years. It is not clear at this time whether this will only be short-term employment visas or include other visa subclasses.

Transition from 457 to TSS, limit of two visas

A visa holder transitioning from a current 457 visa to a TSS visa will still be eligible to apply for a second TSS visa onshore.

Work Experience

There’s a requirement of a 2-years work experience in the TSS visa.

Non-Discriminatory Workforce Test

This non-discriminatory workforce test will not apply to all sponsors-applicants. The practice will rather on case-by-case basis e.g. where the number of sponsored workers far outnumber Australian employees and is different to what would be expected in that industry. The Department does accept that there may be good reasons for such deviations and only expects to be examining a small number of cases each year.

Labour Market Testing

Labour Market Testing or LMT will be required for all applications unless International Trade Obligations (ITO) apply. Specific LMT advertising requirements will be included in either a legislative instrument or the Skilling Australia Fund Act. That means, Gumtree type advertising will no longer be acceptable and advertising must be in English. There will be some flexibility around LMT for ‘talent based’ applications e.g. sports. The requirements for LMT will be made much clearer by including the length of time a position must be advertised, the method of advertisement and exemptions to LMT.  Issues related to the specifics of the LMT are still being debated in parliament and have not been finalized.

Reminder regarding transitional arrangements

The table below summarizes the transitional arrangements that are expected to be in place:

Standard business sponsorship (SBS) applications lodged before the implementation datewill continue to be processed under the old rules subject to minor transitional arrangements to the benefit of employers (example: will move to new five year periods, and training benchmarks will not apply subject to the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) arrangements having come into effect – see below).
Subclass 457 nomination applications for existing subclass 457 visa holders lodged before the implementation datewill be processed under ‘old rules’
Subclass 457 nomination applications for visa applicants lodged before the implementation date
  • If a related visa application was also lodged before implementation date – both nomination and visa applications will be processed under ‘old rules’.
  • If no related visa application was lodged before implementation date – the nomination application will be administratively finalized and the nominee fee refunded (without a written request for a refund).
Subclass 457 visa application lodged before the implementation datewill be processed under ‘old rules’ and if satisfied, a subclass 457 visa will be granted.

ENS and RSMS Visas Changes being introduced for March 2018

The key changes being introduced in March 2018 for the ENS and RSMS visa programs, subject to the transitional arrangements and the final drafting of regulations, are:

  • Skilled occupation lists: The MLTSSL will apply to the ENS (186) and the RSMS (187), with additional occupations available through the RSMS to support regional employers
  • Salary arrangements: the new market salary framework planned to be introduced for the TSS visa will also apply to ENS and RSMS, including Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) requirements
  • Residency: The eligibility period to transition to permanent residence will be extended from two to three years
  • Work experience: At least three years’ work experience relevant to the particular occupation will be required
  • Age: All applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 years at the time of application.

The Skilling Australians Fund

Skilling Australians Fund levy will be paid at the time of nomination. The ATO has advised that the levy will be tax deductible. The levy will be refunded where the nomination is refused or where an incorrect application is lodged and withdrawn. Further circumstances under which the levy may be refunded are being considered. The cost of the SAF levy cannot be passed on to the visa applicant and will be covered by the ‘paying for sponsorship’ regulations.

On The News

Meanwhile, migration-related issues keep becoming the national headlines. Some are as follows:

Immigration Cut

There’s an ongoing debate on immigration that took place since Tony Abbott made a remark on cutting the immigrant intake. Both sides, with the opposing side represented by the Treasurer Scott Morrison, seem eager to crunch and spew numbers to support their beliefs. Who’s right?

Here are some of the best takes on the matter from both sides:

The Age (pro-immigration op-ed)

Herald Sun (anti-immigration Morrison op-ed)

Department of Home Affairs Costs Taxpayers AUD 2 Million

The transitional cost of establishing the Department of Home Affairs, home to 14,000-23,000 staffs, reached $ 2 Million and is likely to increase as the new-established mega-department scale its operations. From that numbers, $788,000 goes to DIBP’s former boss, Mike Pezzullo as his annual take-home pay.

Read more

ImmiAccount Break Down

Due to the high volume of visa applications being lodged simultaneously (or so the official statement said), the Department’s ImmiAccount has undergone several breakdowns since Friday. (ImmiAccount is the gateway to immigration online service where migration agent lodges your visa application.) It will also undergo some maintenance from March 2-3. Given the fact that the high volume is very likely due to avoiding the commencement of TSS visa, let’s hope the maintenance doesn’t hinder visa lodgement any further.

Fair Work Ombudsman

Fair Work Ombudsman (https://www.fairwork.gov.au/) has made its website available to 40 languages. This move is expected to help migrant workers in Australia to find info that they need as far as fair go is concerned.

Wrapping Up

If any of the aforementioned transitional changes somehow affect you or you think they will make your plan to migrate to Australia on a skilled work visa in jeopardy, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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