TSS visa

Being a 457 holder in a TSS world

Since the March 2018 changes to the Temporary Work visa program were rolled out, Putt Legal has been approached by a number of current and prospective clients who already hold subclass 457 visas, and want to know what these changes mean for their permanent residence prospects.

Previously, 457 holders were able to apply for permanent residence through the Temporary Resident Transition (‘TRT’) scheme of the subclass 186/187 visas, after working for 2 years and fulfilling various other criteria. The TRT arrangements have changed, however there are transitional arrangements in place for some 457 visa holders.

The below table provides a general overview, but please contact us on (08) 9221 7682 for individualised advice:

Category of 457 holder

Transitional arrangement

Held a subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017 and continues to hold this visa at the time of TRT application

  • The applicant’s nominated occupation does not need to be on the current list of eligible occupations.

  • The age requirement will remain at less than 50 years of age with existing age exemptions still available

 

  • The minimum period an applicant is required to have been employed as the holder of a subclass 457 or TSS visa will remain at two years out of the last three years.

Held a subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017 and holds a bridging visa related to a 457/TSS visa application at the time of TRT application

Lodged a 457 application on or before 18 April 2017 which was granted, and continues to hold this visa at the time of TRT application

Lodged a 457 application on or before 18 April 2017 which was granted, and holds a bridging visa related to a 457/TSS visa at the time of TRT application

Anyone else

The new requirements apply

These transitional arrangements are in place to ensure that people who already held or had applied for 457 visas before the changes were announced on 18 April 2017, are not unfairly disadvantaged by the new changes.

 

TSS visa update

Current and prospective applicants for skilled visas will have been keenly awaiting the Department’s announcement of the implementation date for the TSS visa and other changes to the permanent employer-sponsored program.

The date for these changes has not yet been announced, however according to the Department they are still scheduled to take place this month.

Importantly, the Skilling Australians Fund Bill (‘the SAF Bill’) is yet to be passed by parliament. Readers will recall that the SAF Bill proposes to replace the current ‘Training Benchmarks’ with the Skilled Australia Fund levy – instead of making a contribution to an industry training fund or expending part of their gross payroll on training Australian staff, employers will have to make upfront payments into the fund as part of the nomination process (for more on this, see our blog post dated 2 February 2018).

It is unclear if, and when, the SAF Bill will be passed – the House of Representatives is not sitting again until 13 March 2018, and the Senate will not sit until 19 March 2018.

The Department has advised that this will not affect the rest of the changes, which will come into effect as soon as the remainder of the legislative and functional processes are finalised.

This means that any nominations lodged after the March implementation date but before the SAF Bill is passed will continue to require proof of expenditure towards the Training Benchmarks. Once the SAF Bill is passed and becomes law, employers will instead have to pay the levy which may well work out to be much more expensive than the Training Benchmarks. The levy payment is non-refundable, even if the nomination or visa application is refused.

Due to the uncertainty of these timeframes, visa applicants should endeavour to finalise and lodge their nominations and applications as soon as possible, so that they can be processed under the ‘old rules’.

PERTH OFFICIALLY EXCLUDED FROM "REGIONAL AUSTRALIA"

Since the State Election in March 2017, the Regional Certifying Body for WA ceased processing RSMS certification for the purposes of Subclass 187 nomination applications.

At the time this decision only affected people wanting to apply for a Subclass 187 visa under the Direct Entry stream for the Perth metropolitan area, as their nomination application was unable to be approved as required by law.

With effect from 17 November 2017, the Immigration Department introduced new legislation which now excludes the Perth metropolitan area from the definition of Regional Australia.  In other words, the law was changed to reflect the WA Government's decision made in March 2017.

However, this change in legislation has a broader impact than potential Subclass 187 visa applicants.  It means that Subclass 489 visa applicants can no longer live and work in Perth either.

Another consequence is that Subclass 186 nomination applications under the Temporary Residence Transition stream for positions within the Perth metropolitan area will now attract a $540 fee (whereas previously the cost was nil).

Finally, potential Subclass 457 (and from March 2018, TSS) visa applicants need to be aware that if their occupation has a "regional Australia" caveat then they cannot be sponsored for a position located in Perth.

The areas of Western Australia that are now considered regional are:

  • Cocos & Christmas Islands;
  • Gascoyne;
  • Great Southern
  • Kimberley
  • Mid West
  • Peel
  • Pilbara;
  • South West; and
  • Wheatbelt

and the regional post codes are:

  • 6041 to 6044
  • 6083 to 6084
  • 6121 to 6126
  • 6200 to 6799

If you are confused about these changes and whether they affect your visa options, feel free to come in to see us and seek our advice.

TSS visa - changes to training

On 28 April 2017, the Department announced the new TSS scheme which will replace the 457-visa programme in March 2018.

Among other changes announced, the Department will introduce the Skilled Australia Fund levy (SAF) to be managed by the Department of Education and Training.

The SAF will replace the current training benchmarks that sponsoring employers are required to satisfy for Subclass 457 and Subclass 186 visas.

Currently employers are required to spend at least 1% of their annual gross payroll towards the training of Australian employees or pay over 2% towards an approved training fund, to satisfy the training benchmarks.

From March 2018, sponsoring employers will instead be required to pay the SAF levy “up front” as part of the nomination and will be required to do so for each nomination lodged.

The SAF levy costs will be as follows:

  • Small business (annual turnover less than 10 million)
    • TSS visa - $1,200 per year/part thereof
    • ENS/RSMS - $3,000 one-off
  • Other businesses
    • TSS visa - $1,800 per year/part thereof
    • ENS/RSMS - $5,000 one-off

This means if a small company wishes to sponsor a person who has an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) for a period of 4 years, the company will need to pay $4,800 upfront towards the SAF levy.

Fortunately for Standard Business Sponsors that received approval prior to March 2018, the SAF will not apply to them, unless they are renewing their sponsorship after that date.

The Department has also announced an increase to the Visa Application Charges (VAC) relating to 4-year TSS visas:

 Primary Application VAC                    Adult Dependent VAC                   Child Dependent VAC

          $2,400                                              $2,400                                                  $600      

If you are an employer who has been considering becoming a Standard Business Sponsor, the time to do so is now, before the levy is implemented. 

Contact Putt Legal for further information in relation to the upcoming changes to the 457-visa programme and TSS scheme.