Recent changes to employer-sponsored visas

On 18 March 2018 the subclass 457 visa was abolished and replaced with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) subclass 482 visa.

The TSS visa has two streams. The Short-Term stream enables employers to fill a range of positions for up to two years. The Medium-Term stream will allow sponsors to fill certain positions for up to four years.

I have been reading the Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) 2018 Bill which is currently before the Australian Senate. I need a life I know! Anyway, this Bill was not passed by the Senate during their last sitting. The Senate will next sit on 8 May 2018.

The Bill provides for the collection of a nomination training contribution for both temporary and permanent employer-sponsored visas.

Positive impacts of the Bill on regional Australia

Some of the other proposed changes in the Bill may benefit regional Australia. They include:

  • specifying eligible occupations in the Medium-Term list, with additional occupations available to support regional employers using the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)

  • This broader occupation list available under the RSMS would be extended to also apply to the two streams of the TSS visa

  • a requirement for temporary visa holders who accessed a regional occupation concession to have lived in a regional area for three years to be eligible for a permanent employer sponsored visa would ensure that migrants have a strong incentive to live and settle in regional Australia.

If my interpretation of the above changes is correct, this is potentially very good news for regional Australia. I believe that without a permanent pathway, many prospective migrants won’t be willing to work in the bush – just like most Australians.

I also hope the reference to the ‘regional occupation concession’ refers to those semi-skilled occupations which are included in the NT Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA). If so, this will be very welcome news to NT employers who are using the DAMA to address their skill shortages and make it a much more attractive option.

I have also noted that Senator Anning has proposed an amendment to the Bill to allow small businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million per annum to be exempt from the Skilling Australia Fund levy. Although, I’m unsure about the chances of Senator Anning’s amendment being successful, I believe small businesses in the NT should be exempt from the levy as they are unlikely to realise any benefit from it.

Additionally, as perhaps the largest user of the employer-sponsored migration programs in the Northern Territory, I have noted the NT government has also requested an exemption from the levy in their submission to the Senate Committee.

So, watch this space. I will include any updates on this Bill in my news. In the meantime, I recommend approved employers consider getting their nomination applications in as soon as possible to minimise their chances of being impacted by the levies should they become law.