Department of Home Affairs provides updates on forthcoming visa programme

13 Feb 18

AUSTRALIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Government officials have provided the Migration Institute of Australia with updated information about the forthcoming Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa programme.

What does the change mean? Officials confirmed that the TSS visa programme will be launched in the first half of March. They said that a requirement that applicants be ‘genuine temporary entrants’ will automatically be satisfied in most cases and that tests to determine whether sponsoring employers are discriminating against Australians will be the exception, not the norm. A number of details must still be finalised, including details related to the introduction of new labour market testing requirements, plans to expand the accredited sponsor scheme, streamline ‘lower risk’ applications and develop a Skilling Australians Fund.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing. The TSS visa programme is set to be implemented in the first half of March, but no exact date has been provided yet.
  • Visas/permits affected: Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visas.
  • Who is affected: Employers planning on recruiting foreign workers on TSS visas.
  • Next steps: Additional information on the TSS visa programme is expected this month and in March. BAL will continue following developments and will alert clients to additional changes once they are announced.

Background: The Australian Government announced in April 2017 that it would abolish the Subclass 457 Temporary Skilled Work visa and replace it with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa programme with an eye toward tighter controls over migration and the hiring of skilled foreign workers. In January, officials released some information aimed at helping employers begin to prepare for the change. The MIA met with Department of Home Affairs to seek additional information on the TSS visa programme. According to the MIA, Department officials said:

  • The TSS visa will be introduced in the first half of March. No exact implementation date has been provided yet, but it will not be 1 March.
  • The Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement will be automatically satisfied in most cases. This requirement will be met unless the applicant has held a number of short-term visas in the past four or five years. It is not clear whether this means the applicant has held a number of short-term employment visas or whether other visa subclasses may be considered as well.
  • Arrangements will be made for Subclass 457 visa holders. Subclass 457 visa holders transitioning to a TSS visa will be permitted to apply for a second TSS visa in Australia.
  • Non-discriminatory Workforce Tests are expected to be the exception rather than the norm. The Government previously said it would conduct non-discriminatory workforce tests to ensure employers are not discriminating against Australian workers. Few details about how these tests will work are available, but officials have now clarified that they will not be conducted for all TSS applicants. Tests can be expected in cases where a company’s workforce does not match the industry norm, for example, in situations where sponsored workers are far greater than the number of Australian workers.
  • Details of the Labour Market Testing requirement are still being debated. Labour Market Testing will be mandatory for TSS visa applications, but details on how positions must be advertised have not been finalised. Authorities have previously indicated that sponsors who want to ensure they meet the criteria once they are established should consider: (1) advertising positions for a reasonable period of time before seeking to fill positions with foreign workers; (2) ensuring that advertisements specifically mention the nominated position, including the terms and conditions that are eventually offered to a foreign worker; and (3) ensuring that advertisements can be accessed nationally.
  • Plans for a Skilling Australians Fund are not finalised. Employers will be required to pay into a training fund as part of the TSS programme. Parliament is still debating how the fund will be established, but officials have confirmed that they will switch to the TSS visa programme in March even if the Skilling Australians Fund is not ready to be implemented.
  • The processes for obtaining a health waiver will change. The Public Interest Criteria (PIC) 4006A health waiver, available to Subclass 457 applicants, will not be available to TSS visa applicants. A separate waiver, the PIC 4007 health waiver, however, will be available. Details are available here.

The Department also told MIA it was looking to expand the accredited sponsor scheme and that it would prioritise ‘lower risk’ TSS visa applicants. The details for both of these initiatives have not yet been finalised.

BAL Analysis: While some key parts of the TSS visa programme have not been finalised, employers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the information that is available. BAL can assist employers in preparing for the switch to the TSS visa programme and in determining whether it is best to submit nominations and visa applications before or after the March implementation. BAL can also help employers plan for labour market testing, salary and other requirements, to the extent that they are known.

MARN: 0534021

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

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