Henrietta Mead, Negosentro | Many people from all around the world head towards the Land Down Under in search for a better future and prosperous career. Foreigners from all over the globe faced a difficult challenge in obtaining a visa for living and working in Australia. However, it seems that it will only get more difficult from now on, as Australian government decided to focus on prioritizing Australian citizens for local jobs instead of people outside looking to work in Down Under. As a matter of fact, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that, starting from March 2018, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) will be abolished and that it will be replaced with new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.
The new TSS visa has two streams consisting of a Short-Term stream which lasts two years and a Medium-Term stream which lasts four years. That means that obtaining an Australian working visa will include more strict rules and regulations and that it will be quite difficult for foreigners to obtain it, since “Australian jobs for Australians” mentality is in place. Let’s have a look at what has changed and how those changes affect Australian startups and workers.
The old Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allowed foreigners to work in Australia up to four years if they’re eligible for one of the skill occupations, have been nominated by an approved sponsor to work in a desired occupation and have met the requirements involving English language proficiency, insurance, licensing and obligation requirements concerning the nominated occupation. Furthermore, a foreign worker could apply for permanent residency in Australia after two years of working and living there.
With the new TSS visa being set into motion at the beginning of 2018, things are already drastically changing. For instance, foreign workers can no longer apply for a permanent residence after the two years have expired on their Short-Term stream. Instead, they can apply after three years if they’re on Medium-Term stream. Also, over 200 job occupations have been removed from the skilled occupation list with more to come, which will drastically reduce the opportunities for foreigners to score a job in Australia. Furthermore, the new visa will have more strict requirements. For example:
- Strict background and criminal checks – Applicants must provide police reports from every country they lived in for more than 12 months after the age of 16.
- More English language requirements.
- Mandatory labor market testing.
- In order to ensure that overseas workers cannot be engaged to undercut Australian workers, employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT).
- Visa applicants must have a t least three years of work experience.
- Application cost for the Short-Term stream will be $1150, while Medium-Term stream will cost $2400.
These are just some of the reforms that will follow the new TSS visa and there will be more until March 2018.
People who are about to apply for a visa and those who are in the process of having their application revised will be subjected to changes. Also, those who work in the occupation that has been removed from the occupation list will have both their 457 visa and a chance for permanent residency denied. However, those that already have a 457 visa will not be subject to these changes until their visa expires. If you’re about to apply for a visa or if you’ve already submitted your application, then you should consult with experts in the field of immigration law, to help you better understand your options.
As for Australian startups, the changes will affect them too, as employee turnover will hurt businesses that are looking for a four-year working agreement to develop their business further and especially if they employ foreign workers in occupations that were removed. The turnover cost is expected to reach $1 million yearly. Moreover, startups and other businesses will have to publicize themselves to the Australian workers, before they can employ foreign workers. That means that business can employ foreign workers only if there are no Australian workers for that position.
What can be done?
Obtaining a visa for working in Australia has become increasingly difficult but it’s not impossible. If you have the right skills and qualifications, you can still apply for a visa in occupations that haven’t been removed.
Also, people under the age of 45 have an opportunity to apply for a Skilled-independent visa (subclass 189) that requires no sponsorship from an employer or a relative. All you need to do is apply for an occupation on the skilled occupation list and score over 60 points on your invitation letter. The good news is that this visa is permanent if you manage to obtain it.
It seems that Australian government is starting to limit immigration to their country and focus on prioritizing its citizens first. This new set of rules will make obtaining working visas for foreigners a lot more difficult. However, just because something is harder it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you want to work in Australia and manage to score a visa then make sure you hone your skills and meet their requirements.