Changes to the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Announced
By Malcolm Liu
20 September 2019
Companies with major investments in Australia now have an avenue to quickly bring in skilled foreign workers to fill temporary shortages, after implementation of a change to the Accredited Sponsor Scheme for the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.
Announced in March, the scheme is accessible to companies that have invested over $50 million AUD in Australia. As a result, approved companies can expect a visa turnaround time of around five days. The Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa replaces the old subclass 457 visa. Similar its predecessor, the TSS visa programme enables business sponsors to nominate foreign skilled workers for a period of up to four years, with the actual duration depending upon the specific occupation that is being filled.
Where an occupation is listed under the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), the TSS visa can be granted for up to four years with the potential of a visa renewal for a further four years. Additionally, a permanent residency pathway is available after three years of employment in the nominated occupation and with the same employer.
Where an occupation is listed under the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), the TSS visa can be granted for up to two years with a potential visa renewal for a further two years.
There are three primary streams to the Temporary Skill Shortage visa, being:
- The Short-Term visa stream, which applies to those occupations that are on the STSOL;
- The Medium-Term stream, which applies to occupations listed on the MLTSSL; and
- The Labour Agreement Stream, which enables foreign skilled workers to be employed under a labour agreement with the Commonwealth government.
There are, however, eligibility requirements for any company that wishes to sponsor a foreign skilled worker under this scheme. These requirements include:
- Labour Market Testing, where the sponsoring employer will need to provide evidence that they have made attempts to recruit for the nominated position from the local labour market. Exemptions to this labour market testing can exist, for example if an international trade obligation applies.
- Minimum Market Salary, where employers are required to provide remuneration to the nominated foreign worker that meet current industry rates in Australia. This requirement is known as the Australian Market Salary Rate (AMSR), which must also be above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) applicable at time of application.
- Training Requirement, where employers nominating a foreign worker for the TSS visa are required to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund that has been established by the Federal Government. The contribution amount equates to $1,800 per year and is payable in full at the time of the nomination application. This amount is payable per application, or per foreign skilled worker, nominated.
To ensure the quality of nominated foreign skilled workers, there are also eligibility requirements set on the worker themselves. These requirements are:
- Work Experience: All nominated foreign skilled workers are required to have at least two years’ worth of work experience relevant to the occupation that they are being nominated for, and the application must be substantiated with evidence of this.
- Police Clearances: All nominated foreign skilled workers will be required to provide police clearances for every country they have spent 12 months or more in within the last 10 years.
- English Ability: Occupations that are listed on the STSOL require the nominated foreign skilled worker to evidence an English ability of at least IELTS 4.5 in each test component or equivalent. Occupations that are listed on the MLTSSL require the nominated foreign skilled worker to evidence an English ability of at least IELTS 5.0 in each test component or equivalent.
It should be noted that certain occupations may have caveats associated to them, meaning that any business that wishes to nominate a foreign skilled worker in that particular occupation will have further unique requirements that need to be met. A list of such occupations and their caveats can be found at the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs Immigration and Citizenship website.
In conclusion, it can be seen that the local shortage of skilled workers, particularly in the tech industries, has prompted the Australian Government to provide easier access for Australian businesses to foreign skilled workers. However, there are strict eligibility requirements that apply to both the Australian businesses and the nominated foreign workers, with the overarching view that businesses should exhaust any and all potential local workers first before applying for this scheme.
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