• Changes to the Permanent Employer Sponsored Visa Categories Take Effect
  • July 19, 2017
  • As outlined in our earlier client alerts, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced significant changes to the Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) and permanent employer sponsored visa categories. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has released further detail of the proposed reforms in a Frequently Asked Questions document on its website.

    A number of changes which took effect July 1, 2017 will impact streams of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (Subclass 186) Visa and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (Subclass 187) Visa programs.

    Changes to the Direct Entry Stream Requirements

    Key changes include:

    • Evidence of English language proficiency and skills assessments will be required for high income earners who were previously exempt provided their earnings were at least equivalent to the Australian Tax Office top income tax rate (A$180,001). This applies to ENS and RSMS Direct Entry applications made on or after July 1, 2017 and to applications made prior to and not finalized by that date. According to the explanatory statement to the amending legislative instrument, this change was made to “strengthen the integrity of the Subclass 186 and Subclass 187 Visas by ensuring that applicants have the required skills and English language requirements”.
    • The age limit for applications submitted on or after July 1, 2017 has been reduced from 50 to 45 years of age with exemptions remaining for limited prescribed occupations, New Zealand nationals, and New Zealand Family Relationship (Subclass 461) Visa holders.

    Changes to the Temporary Residences Transition Stream Requirements

    Key changes include:

    • Nominating employers will need to show that there is a genuine need for the Subclass 457 Visa holder to work in the position on a permanent basis in order to bring this in line with the Direct Entry nomination requirements.
    • Applicants will be required to demonstrate a competent level of English language proficiency on a test. Exemptions to this rule will be available for native English speakers and to applicants who have completed at least five years of full-time study in an English secondary or higher education institution. This affects new applications lodged on or after July 1, 2017.
    • As a result of the removal of the English language exemption for high income applicants with earnings above A$180,001, evidence of English language proficiency will now be required for Temporary Residence Transition stream applications and will affect new applications submitted on or after July 1, 2017, as well as applications which were submitted prior to that date, but remain pending.

    Other Amendments Effective July 1, 2017

    The maximum age limit for applicants for the points-tested Skilled Nominated (Subclass 190) Visa and the Skilled Regional (Subclass 489) Visa was reduced from 50 to 45 years of age. This change will not impact applicants who received an invitation to submit or who submitted one of the points-tested visas prior to July 1, 2017.

    Under the Working Holiday (Subclass 417) and Work and Holiday (Subclass 462) Visa categories, the maximum age at the time of application submission will increase from 30 to 35 years of age.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Direct Entry and Temporary Residence Transition Stream ENS and RSMS applications will be impacted by the removal of the high income English language and skills exemptions, some of which were previously unannounced. Foreign nationals applying under these visa categories should ensure that they meet the new requirements.