The Government has announced that the 457 visa program will be abolished and replaced by a new temporary visa known as the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa (TSS Visa) in March 2018.
Some changes have already taken place and further changes are expected in July and December 2017. If you’re a 457 visa holder hoping to stay in Australia as a permanent resident, it’s important to understand how these changes affect you. Here’s what you need to know.
- You may be able to apply for PR if your occupation has been removed
If your occupation is listed on the Short Term Skilled Occupation List, or has been removed altogether, you may still be able to apply for permanent residency (PR). This depends on a number of factors however, so it’s best to confirm your PR options with an experienced migration agent.
- English language requirements will change in July
From 1 July 2017 more advanced English language requirements will apply to some employer sponsored visas. The requirement for permanent residence will increase from vocational English (the equivalent of 5 in all parts of the IELTS test) to competent English (the equivalent of 6 in all parts of the IELTS test). It is worth considering if you can apply now or putting a plan in place to become more proficient with your English language skills should you need to undertake a new test.
- Age limit will reduce to under 45
If you are almost 50 years old and considering permanent residency, don’t delay your application. The changes from 1 July 2017 will mean a reduction to the current age limit for permanent residency from 50 years of age to 45 years of age for the ‘Direct Entry’ pathway and for the ‘Transition Pathway’ from March 2018.
- Work for 3 years instead of 2 years to get PR
From March 2018, the government will require applicants to have worked for 3 years with their employer, up from the current 2 year requirement (for 186 and 187 visas). It is not clear yet whether there will be transitional provisions for current 457 visa holders who will otherwise be impacted by this delay in their plans to apply for PR.
- Renewing your visa may be difficult
If you currently hold a 457 visa, it will continue to be valid for the visa grant period. New applicants will be granted a 2 year or 4 year visa depending on their occupation – this applies to 457 visas granted after 20 April 2017 and will continue to be the case under the TSS visa. If your occupation has been removed from the list, it may not be possible to renew your 457 visa or obtain a TSS visa.
Interstaff are here to advise of your visa options and how you may be impacted by the Government’s changes. It’s vital that you get professional advice on how the changes impact your individual circumstances as the changes announced are complex and apply to people in different ways.
We encourage current 457 holders who wish to obtain permanent residency to contact Interstaff to discuss their eligibility and options as soon as possible. You can access our free visa assessment here.