If you have been keeping an eye on Australian employer-sponsored visas over the last four years, you would be aware of the complexity and chaos visa applicants have endured.
This article is a quick history lesson in Australian immigration law but stay with me – there is a point here. I promise!
In April 2017, the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull announced sweeping changes to the subclass 457 program.
The changes included:
- Introduction of the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) on 18 March 2018.
- Split the employer-sponsored skilled lists into two lists - the MLTSSL and STSOL.
- Cut the overall number of available skilled occupations from 651 to 216.
- Increased the employment requirement for the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) Stream for the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186) from 2 to 3 years.
- Reduced the age limit for ENS applicants from 50 to 45 years.
- Dramatically increased visa application charges and introduced of the Skilling Australian Fund levy (SAF)
The announcements resulted in a tumultuous year in Australian immigration. Processing times for both temporary and permanent employer-sponsored visas exploded. Some of my clients waited up to 18 months for a subclass 457 visa.
Others were swept up in a spate of apparently arbitrary (and, in my opinion, callous) refusal decisions. The AAT is still dealing with the backlog of these refusals.
The implications of the changes included:
- Only MLTSSL occupation subclass 457/ 482 visa holders would be eligible for TRTS ENS (Permanent Residence, subclass 186).
- Uncertainty for a large cohort of subclass 457 visa holders, namely those in STSOL occupations. Would these visa holders be eligible for permanent residence?
TRANSITIONAL ARRANGEMENTS – IMMI 18/052
There was however a small island of calm amid all the turmoil – and that was the transitional arrangements for certain subclass 457 visa holders (Migration (IMMI 18/052: Transitional operation of regulation 5.19 for certain 457 visa holders) Instrument 2018).
In March 2018, as the introduction of the subclass 482 visa neared, IMMI 18/052 was released. Finally, there was certainty for a group of subclass 457 visa holders, particularly STSOL occupation holders, with regards to a clear pathway to Permanent Residence (ENS, subclass 186).
The key points of the instrument were:
- Defining ‘specified persons’ and
- Maintaining the 2-year employment requirement for the TRTS stream of the ENS (subclass 186) visa.
Certain subclass 457 visa holders would still be eligible for a TRT stream ENS (subclass 186) visa, regardless of which occupation list they were on. A specified person is defined as someone who:
- Held a subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017, or
- Was an applicant for a subclass 457 visa on 18 April 2017 AND was subsequently granted the visa.
Maintaining duration of holding a subclass 457 visa
‘Specified persons’ are also able to access the original rules with regards to time spent on their subclass 457 visas before applying for permanent residence (ENS, subclass 186).
These applicants would only need 2 years as the holder of a subclass 457 visa before applying for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, under the ENS (subclass 186) visa.
The end of the transition – 18 March 2022
This is an important date to keep in mind for ‘specified’ subclass 457 visa holders. On 18 March 2022, the instrument setting out the transitions will be repealed. In other words, the ‘specified persons’ will no longer be eligible for the transitional arrangements.
Can current subclass 482 visa holders take advantage of the transitional arrangements?
The answer is maybe.
The good news for some subclass 482 visa holders, regardless of which occupation list (STSOL or MLTSSL) may still be eligible for transitional arrangements – ONLY if they also held a subclass 457 visa under the ‘specified’ conditions explained above AND they apply before 18 March 2022.
If you would like clarity on whether you are eligible for permanent residence through the transitional arrangements, please contact us to arrange an appointment.
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash
The information provided in this article or anywhere on this website is of a general nature, it does not relate to your specific circumstance. This general information must not be used to form any assessment or opinion on individual visa eligibility. For an individual assessment you must contact us for a consultation session to confirm if you are eligible for any visa.