In March 2018, the Australian Government introduced the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482), replacing the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457). The change is part of the Government’s reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australia’s skilled migration programs. It seeks to fill the skill shortages in the workforce and provide safeguards to prioritise Australian workers. The change also intends to support Australian businesses by providing more structure for employers when sponsoring overseas workers. This article outlines the new changes to the visa to assist you, as an employer looking to sponsor overseas workers, with understanding and complying with the new TSS visa.

The TSS Visa is the New 457 Visa

The 457 visa was a very commonly used visa. It allowed employers to sponsor a skilled overseas worker in Australia for up to four years. Further, the visa permitted the applicant to bring their family to travel in and out of Australia for work or study purposes.

The TSS visa formally replaced the 457 visa in March 2018. It aims to assist businesses to access skills that they need to grow, where Australian skills are not available. The TSS visa introduces three new streams:

  • Short-term stream: allowing applicants the right to stay in Australia for two years with the option to renew once onshore;
  • Medium-term stream: allowing applicants a stay of up to four years with a pathway to permanent residence after four years; and
  • Labour agreement stream: for use in exceptional cases. Such a stream may be an option where the standard visa programs are not available and there is a proven labour need that the local Australian labour market cannot readily meet.

As an employer sponsoring a TSS visa applicant, you must also pay a prescribed fee to the Skilling Australian Fund. The fee replaces the training benchmark requirement under the 457 visa, reducing your burden to conduct such training. The prescribed fee is yet to be determined.

Applicant Skills

The TSS visa imposes stricter regulations in comparison to the 457 visa. The applicant must have the required skills for the role and also have a minimum of two years’ of relevant work experience.

Further, the applicant must have a higher proficiency level of the English language than the 457 visa requirement. For a short-term stream, an applicant must have an International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) overall score of five (therefore, they must score at least 4.5 in each component). For a medium-term stream, an applicant must have an IELTS score of five in each component and overall.

Occupation List Updates

The list of occupations you can sponsor has also been updated, reflecting particular geographic areas with a skills shortage. Short-term stay applicants have to refer to the short-term skilled occupations list. The medium and long-term strategic skills list contains the list of occupations relevant for medium-term stay applicants.

One of the most significant changes is the introduction of the regional occupation list available for employers in regional areas. The new changes and new occupation lists mean that 509 skilled occupations are now eligible for a TSS visa. The complete skilled occupations lists are available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Difference Between Streams

The key differences between the two main streams are the type of skilled occupations they apply to, the length of the stay, the English language proficiency and the pathway to permanent residency.

  Short-term Stay Medium-term Stay
Stay Period Up to two years (option to renew once onshore). Up to four years.
Pathway to Permanent Residency No. Yes, after three years.
English Language Proficiency IELTS score of 5 (at least 4.5 in each component). IELTS score of 5 in each component and overall.
Occupation List Short-term skilled occupations list. Medium and long-term strategic skills list.


Impacts on 457 Visa Holders

If a worker currently holds a 457 visa, the new changes will not affect them. Their visa will be valid until it expires. However, if they wish to apply for a further visa, change employers or change positions, the changes will affect them. For example, if they want to change their occupation or position, they must ensure that their new occupation is one of the new occupation lists. If they change employers, their new employer must make a new nomination, lodge it and receive approval. Further, the nomination must be for an occupation in one of the new occupation lists.

If a 457 visa holder has already applied for a permanent visa, timing is paramount. If they submitted their application before the implementation of the new rules (April 2017), the previous rules apply to them. However, if they submitted their application after April 2017, they are subject to the new rules and requirements.

Key Takeaways

The new TSS visa abolishes the 457 visa. It brings about changes to how employers can sponsor overseas workers when filling skill shortages the Australian workforce cannot meet. Therefore, as an employer, you can no longer sponsor overseas workers under a 457 visa. The TSS visa introduces a number of different streams through which you can sponsor an overseas worker. The relevant stream depends on:

  • the individual’s occupation;
  • length of their stay;
  • their English proficiency; and
  • whether you want them to have a pathway to permanent residency.

If you have any questions or need assistance with sponsoring an overseas worker under the new TSS visa, get in touch with LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

David Rosenberg
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