482 TSS and 186 ENS visa changes

TSS 482 Short-Term to PR 186 visa ( Implementation of employer-sponsored permanent residency reforms expected from 25 November 2023)

The Department of Home Affairs has set 25 November 2023 for implementing changes to the employer-sponsored permanent residency program.

Once the ENS reforms have been implemented, short-term Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) 482 visa holders will gain access to permanent residency under the 186 Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the ENS visa program.

  • All Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) SC 482 visa holders will be eligible for ENS visas sponsored by their employers.
  • Applicants will need to continue to work in the occupation nominated for their TSS visa(s).
  • Sponsored visa holders will be eligible for ENS TRT after two years (down from three years) of sponsorship on a TSS by their employer.
  • Applicants will need to meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the TRT stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme visa.
  • The limit on Short Term stream TSS visa applications that can be made onshore has also been removed in the interim.
  • Starting from November 25, 2023, individuals with visas will no longer face restrictions on submitting more than two short-term TSS extension applications.
  • From November 25, 2023 onward, employers can nominate individuals in TSS visa streams for 186 visa (employer-sponsored permanent residence). This includes both short-term and Labor Agreement streams, provided that the 457 or TSS visa holder has been employed by the same employer for at least two out of the last three years in the nominated occupation.
  • the assessment of nominated occupations for ENS visa applications will no longer be based on the skilled occupation list. Unlike the previous criteria, which limited TRT stream applications to nominated occupations under the medium/long-term list, among a few minor exceptions, the new requirement is that the nominated occupation only needs to be listed in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations dictionary (ANZSCO).
  • Regional medical practitioners and high-income earning applicants aged 45 and above will now have access to age exemption provisions after two years, reduced from the previous three years. These adjustments aim to offer greater certainty to employers and ensure a more equitable pathway to permanent residency for all TSS visa holders.
  • All new 186 nominations must meet the new TSMIT of $70,000.

These much anticipated reforms will mean:

TSS 482 Short-Term to PR 186 visa
  • all skilled workers on the TSS (Subclass 482) visa can gain access to permanent residency through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) Subclass 186 Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream
  • eligible occupations for the ENS 186 TRT visa pathway is not limited to just the Medium Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MTSSL); those working in occupations in the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) will become eligible to transition to permanent residency
PR after TWO Years on TSS 482 visa
  • the period of employment with the sponsoring employer is reduced to 2 years (from 3 years) while holding the TSS visa
  • all applicants would still be required to continue working in their nominated occupations and meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the ENS 186 TRT stream.

These changes will reflect the Government’s commitment to strengthening Australia’s skills profile, addressing skills shortages across all industries, streamlining the skilled migration program, as well as remaining competitive on the international stage, and continued efforts to restore the economy to pre-pandemic times.

The new financial year of 2023-24 brings with itself significant updates that require your attention.

Higher Income Threshold for Employer Sponsored visas

The Government has increased the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) from $53,900 to $70,000 from 1 July 2023.

Work & Holiday Makers

Papua New Guinea (PNG) joins Work and Holiday (visa subclass 462) On 1 July 2023, PNG became the newest partner country to join the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Program. The arrangement allows up to 100 PNG nationals to travel to Australia on a Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa.

From 1 July 2023, the upper limit will increase to 35 years. From this date, UK passport holders can lodge an application for any Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa until midnight (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on the day before their 36th birthday.

Increase in Visa Fees

Visa application charges (VACs) have increased in line with the 2023-24 forecast CPI. We have outlined the fees associated with the most frequently requested visa subclasses below:

Visa Type Pre July fee From 1 July 2023
Student and Guardian (Subclass 500 & 590) $650 $710
General Skilled Migration (Subclass 189, 190, 491, 494) $4,240 $4,640
Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 $1,730 $1,895
Partner (Subclass 300, 820/801, 309/100) $8,085 $8,850
Parent (Contributory) first instalment

The Second Visa Application charge for the Contributory Parent visa (143 visa) will remain the same

$385 – $4,355 $420 – $4,765
TSS – STSOL (Subclass 482) $1,330 $1,455
TSS – MLTSSL (Subclass 482) $2,770 $3,035
ENS/RSMS (Subclass 186, 187) $4,240 $4,640
Business Migration (Subclass 188A, 188B) $6,270 $9,450
Significant Investor Visa (SIV) (188C) $9,195 $13,860
Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) – applying onshore $380 $475
Citizenship Application (By Conferral) $490 $540

Direct Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens

From 1 July 2023 New Zealand citizens who hold a non-protected Special Category Visa can apply for citizenship by conferral, subject to meeting other eligibility requirements. From 1 July 2023 changes to citizenship eligibility for some New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa will apply.

From 1 July 2023, student visa holders will be restricted to 48 hours of work a fortnight

From 1 July 2023, student visa holders can work no more than 48 hours a fortnight while studying. Student visa holders have no work restrictions when their course of study or training is not in session. This ensures that student visa holders are able to focus on obtaining a quality Australia education and qualification, while remaining able to gain valuable work experience, and contribute to Australia’s workforce needs.​​

Extended Stay for Subclass 485 Visa Holders

If you meet the eligibility criteria, have completed a course from the approved list, and hold a valid Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) on 1 July 2023 – or apply for a Temporary Graduate visa before or after 1 July 2023 – your visa will be automatically extended by two years.

The duration of stay will increase from:

  • two years to four years for Bachelor degrees
  • three years to five years for Masters degrees
  • four years to six years for all Doctoral degrees

Occupation List & Skills Assessment – Graduate Work Stream

Graduate Work stream visa applications lodged from 1 July 2023 need a qualification relevant to an occupation on the
skilled occupation list. They also need a skills assessment in the nominated occupation.

High Income Threshold increased:

The High Income Threshold under the Fair Work Act increased on 1 July 2023 to $167,500. Applicants relying on meeting this threshold for the 186 ENS visa age exemption must ensure that the relevant threshold is met for each of the three requisite years.

FAQs

Will the current policy of allowing a person on a 2 year visa to apply for a subclass 186 TRT visa when they reach the 23 month mark, continue, so as to avoid the expense of applying for a new 482 visa?

Currently, to prevent inefficiencies resulting from the 457/TSS visa ceasing a few days short of a visa holder meeting the three year requirement and necessitating obtaining a further TSS visa to meet this requirement, DHA can consider applications where lodgement has occurred a few days prior to the three year date. A similar approach would apply when the eligibility period is reduced to two years.

When it is stated that the person must use the same ANZSCO code for the 186 TRT visa as they hold on the 482/457 visa, will this be the 4 digit or 6 digit ANZSCO? 

The nominated occupation will need to have has the same 4-digit ANZSCO occupation unit group code as the occupation in relation to which the identified person’s most recently held Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa or Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa was granted. This is an existing requirement and would not be changing. It works alongside the requirement for the 457/TSS holder to have been employed in the same position with the sponsoring employer (or employed in the occupation for medical practitioners and certain executives).

For applicants who have a 482 visa based on having an occupation with the code 070499, will they be able to use this code of a 186 TRT application even though it is not technically an ANZSCO code?

DHA are not currently planning on making changes to the requirement that the nominated occupation be listed in ANZSCO. This will mean those holding a TSS visa in relation to the labour agreement defined occupation code 070499 would not be eligible for the temporary residence transition stream. A pathway will continue to be available in the labour agreement stream of the ENS visa were permitted under the terms of the labour agreement.

Replacement of TSS 482 visa in 2024:

As part of Australia’s new migration strategy, a new three tiered system of visa pathways to replace the TSS SC 482.

  • The specialist skills visa pathway will not have an occupational list and a processing turnaround of 7 days.  Trades occupations, machinery operators, drivers and labourers will be excluded from this visa class. There will be 3,000 places allocated per year. The ‘specialist skills’ visa for those earning over $135,000 per year.
  • The core skills visas pathway are expected to provide the majority of visa for the program.  trades workers will be required to apply under this visa based on a revised ‘skills in demand list’ developed by Jobs and Skills Australia. The ‘core skills’ visa for the $70-135,000 cohort.
  • The details of the essential skills visa pathway are yet to be finally determined. This visa will involve union oversight, be capped and be restricted to specific sectors.  To date the aged care and disability sectors have been mentioned. The ‘essential skills’ visa is for those earning under $70,000

The visas will be granted for up to 4 years and visa holders will be able to change employers more easily and provide clear pathways to permanent residency.  The ‘TSMIT‘ will be indexed annually and a public register of employer sponsors to allow more ease with moving between employers.

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