From 457 to TSS: The Major Changes
To fill the country’s skills shortage, the TSS visa allows skilled foreign nationals to work in Australia. Eligibility standards have been refined in the new TSS and the occupations allowed are expected to be much limited compared with the 457 visa.
These occupations are now in two categories:
- Short-Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL)
- Medium-Term and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
This category is for occupations designed for businesses to fill a skills need with foreign workers on a temporary basis, upon the conclusion that a suitable Australian worker cannot be found. Length of stay allowed is up to 2 years.
The following are the criteria for Short-Term stream applications:
- For non-regional applications, occupation must be listed on STSOL
- An IELTS (or equivalent test) score of 5, with a 4.5 minimum in each test component, is required for all applicants
- Applicants must meet genuine temporary entrant requirement
- Visa can only be renewed onshore once
- Applicants must have no transitional pathway to permanent residency
This category allows for businesses to hire foreign workers to fill the skills gap in a narrow range of highly skilled and critically needed occupations. The said occupations are determined after an assessment and identified as being of high value to the country’s economy.
The MLTSSL category allows Australian businesses to source the right expertise upon the conclusion that there is no skilled Australian worker suitable for the position. Length of stay allowed is up to 4 years.
These are the criteria for the Medium-Term stream applications:
- Occupation must be listed on the MLTSSL
- Visas may be renewed onshore for an unlimited number of times
- An IELTS (or equivalent test) score of 6, with a minimum score of 5 in each test component, is required
- Penal clearances must be provided by applicants
- Employers must pass a non-discriminatory workforce test
- Employers must make a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund (AU$1,200 per year for small businesses or AU$1,800 per year for other businesses)
- A pathway to residency exists
Applying for a TSS visa
A sponsor is needed to apply for a TSS visa. A foreign national can’t come to Australia, look for work, then apply for the visa. The arrangement must be made prior to arrival in the country.
Once you find a sponsoring employer, they will be required to:
- prove there is no local capacity to fill the position,
- pass a non-discriminatory test to ascertain they are not discriminating against the local workforce
- guarantee to pay Australian marketplace rate of pay, to make sure they are not undercutting local businesses and exploiting employees with the TSS visa
All of these reforms have been implemented immediately after they were announced in April 2017 and are expected to be completed by March 2018.