Latest Australia Migration News

2018 has seen many changes introduced to the Australian Skilled (GSM) , Employer Sponsored visas (ENS) and Family Visa Program. The Migration updates and changes in 2018 page is updated on a regular basis. We have listed here the main 2018 Australian Visas and Immigration Updates:

Related:  Upcoming immigration changes 2019

  • Reduction of the Maximum Age:  The maximum age for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa is set to decrease from 49 to 45 years.
  • Revision of Skilled Occupation Lists:  MLTSSL and STSOL occupation lists are likely to be reviewed and some flagged occupations, particularly in the engineering sector are likely to be removed.
  • Limitation of Skilled Invitation Numbers: Occupations ceilings indicating maximum numbers of invitations that can be issued to the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 and Skilled Regional Provisional Subclass 489 visa applicants will be released.
  • State Sponsorship: Nominated Skilled State Migration programs will reopen. Many occupations are expected to be filled quickly and we recommend applicants to lodge their applications early.

Any time soon

Partner Visa Changes Ahead

On 10 December 2018 the Family Violence Bill passed in Senate. The Bill will likely mean sponsorships have to be approved before Partner visas can be lodged. If you are planning to apply for a Partner visa we recommend booking an appointment to discuss and understand how these changes may impact you.

July 2018

Citizenship Stays the same until 1 July 2018

The proposed Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 has been struck from parliamentary business, effectively defeating the proposed amendments.

If you apply on or after 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation)

From 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation), the new requirements for Australian citizenship will take effect. If you apply for Australian citizenship on or after this date, your application will be assessed against the new requirements.

August 2018

New Temporary Sponsored Parent Visas

The introduction of the new temporary sponsored parent visa for bringing in overseas parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents has been postponed to November 2017. 15,000 visas will be made available annually. The visas will be valid for 3 or 5 years at a cost of $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.  The new parent visa will be renewable for a combined maximum of 10 years.

Related: Bill not passed

December  2018

Employer Sponsored Migrants

The DHA will commence the collection of tax file numbers for current 457 visa holders and other employer nominated and sponsored migrants. The resulting data will be matched with the ATO’s tax records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.

The DHA will commence the publication of details of sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet employer obligations.

Partner Visas

Partner Visa Sponsorship changes will not proceed as of the 1st July 2017. The new regulations proposed that partner visa sponsorship applications would need to be lodged under stricter criteria and approved before the overseas partner visa application could be lodged.
The new 2 step process is expected to delay the lodgement of the overseas partner application and require the overseas partner to have a valid visa until a visa application for the overseas partner can be lodged.The bill proposing the new regulations is currently before the Senate and as such has not been enacted. It is likely to not come into effect until 2018.
We recommend that our clients take advantage of the deferral of the new regulation and lodge their sponsorship and partner visa application prior to the 2018 changes.

The 2018 change of Partner Visa will require the sponsor, and not just the applicants, to be assessed as well.

These key changes amends the Migration Act 1958 to establish a sponsorship framework for the sponsored family visa program to: establish a sponsorship framework for the sponsored family visa program to:

  • separate sponsorship assessment from the visa application process for family sponsored visas;
  • require the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made;
  • impose statutory obligations on persons who are or were approved as family sponsors and provide for sanctions if those obligations are not satisfied;
  • facilitate the sharing of personal information between parties identified in a sponsorship application;
  • enable the refusal of a sponsorship application and the cancellation or barring of a family sponsor in certain circumstances;
  • enable the regulations to prescribe details for, and in relation to, the operation of the sponsorship framework; and make consequential amendments.

March 2018

Pathways to Permanent Residency for Current 457 Visa Holders

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed that from March 2018, people who were existing subclass 457 visa holders before April changes will still have access to an employer-sponsored pathway to permanent residency.

Provisional arrangements will be very similar to existing ones, which means 2 years with the same employer on 457 visa and competent English should be the main criteria for an ENS or RSMS visa grant under transition stream. Age limit will be 49 years as opposed to 44 for direct entry stream.

What does it mean in reality? Essentially, people who for various reasons are not able to get their skills assessed by the relevant skills assessment authority, cannot apply for direct entry stream of an ENS visa.

Related: Grandfathering provisions 457 to ENS/RSMS announced

SkillSelect Invitations getting tougher

  • Latest selection round (11 September 2018) shows the minimum EOI points selected was 70.

From February 2018 onward, the evidence of fund needs to show living cost is the following:

  • Main Student or Guardian: $20,290 (up from $19,830)
  • Partner or Spouse: $7,100 (up from $6,940)
  • Per Child: $3,040 (up from $2,970)

Visa Simplification: Transforming Australia’s Visa System

  • The Department is looking to simplify the visa system from 99 visa subclasses to only 9.

18 March 2018

NEW TSS visa /186 ENS updates/ 187 RSMS updates

To summarise the new changes starting from 18th of March 2018 are the implementation of:

TSS Visa Program Replaces 457 Visa Program

From 18 March 2018, the current 457 visa program will be abolished and replaced with the new TSS visa program. The TSS visa will be comprised of a Short-Term stream allowing stays of up to two years, and a Medium-Term stream allowing stays of up to four years.

Short-Term Stream vs Medium-Term Stream

Medium and Long Term TSS Visa (482)
Short-Term TSS Visa (482)

Tighter Regulations
For both streams tighter regulations will be introduced including:

  • Increased Work Experience Requirements
  • Higher English Language Levels Requirements
  • Mandatory Labour Market Testing
  • Set Australian Market Salary Rates
  • Additional Character, Anti-Discrimination and Training Requirements

Occupation lists for TSS visa commencing 18th March 2018 

Please see the below link for detailed analysis of 18 March 2018 changes:


2018-19 Migration Programme planning levels

The programme is set annually, with the total places available capped at 190,000 for 2017-18, unchanged from 2017-18. The total programme is broken down into the following streams:

  •         Skilled –This represents the majority of places offered (128,550 places in 2017-18).
  •         Family – is predominately made up of Partner visas, enabling Australians to reunite with family members from overseas, and provide them with pathways to citizenship (57,400 places in 2017-18).
  •         Special Eligibility – this covers visas for those in special circumstances that do not fit into the other streams. This can include permanent residents returning to the country after a period away, and is the smallest stream (565 places in 2017-18).

At least 3,485 Child places will be available outside the managed Migration Programme in 2018-19. See more on Occupation Ceilings

Flagged Occupations for Mid-2018

The Department of Jobs and Small Business is responsible for reviewing the composition of the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and the Regional Occupation List (ROL) to identify occupations that would benefit from skilled migration for the purpose of meeting the skill needs of the Australian economy.

It has published a draft bulletin for public comment on proposed changes to the skilled occupations lists to take effect in mid 2018.

Redshort term skilled occupation list (stsol) occupations for possible removal.

Orangemedium long term strategic skills list (mltssl) occupations for possible movement to stsol.

Yellow—stsol occupations for possible move to mltssl.

Purple—occupations for possible movement from stsol to regional occupations list (rol).

1 July 2018

Fee increase

A legal instrument passed on 21 June 2018, namely Migration Amendment (Visa Application Charges) Regulations 2018The below Visa Application Charges (VAC) will apply to applications made on or after 1 July 2018.

Visa Type Current Fee From 1 July 2018
Student $560 $575
General Skilled Migration $3,670 $3,755
Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 $1,500 $1,535
Partner $7,000 $7,160
Parent (Contributory) first instalment $330 to $3,770 $340 to $3,855
TSS – STSOL $1,150 $1,175
TSS – MLTSSL $2,400 $2,455
ENS/RSMS $3,670 $3,755
Business Migration $4,875 $4,975
Significant Investor Visa (SIV) $7,150 $7,310

Skilled visa pass mark increases to 65 points

Pool and pass mark will increase to 65 for the following three subclasses where an application is made on or after 1 July 2018 in response to an invitation given on or after 1 July 2018:


The Global Talent Scheme is designed to attract highly skilled global talent and deliver innovation to Australia will be piloted from 1 July 2018.

The Government recognises there is fierce competition globally for high-tech skills and talent, and that attracting these people helps to transfer skills to Australian workers and grow Australian-based businesses.

The Global Talent Scheme will consist of two components. Established businesses with an annual turnover of more than $4 million and the start up stream explained below.

The visa subclass utilised will be the  Temporary Skill Shortage Subclass 482 and permanent residency will be an option after three years employment on that visa.

12 August 2018

SAF Levy and LMT updates for ENS visas

The Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) levy has replaced (from 12 August 2018) the previous mandatory training benchmarks, which applied to approved Standard Business Sponsorship (SBS) or employer sponsored permanent residency applications. Please see here.

16 August 2018

Western Australia to attract International Students for Skilled Migration

An additional Graduate Skilled Migration List will be introduced to attract the best global talent with the advanced qualifications, skills and experience and help grow Western Australia’s share of the international education market. Read more here.

5 September 2018


The current service of priority processing requests for TSS and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457) visa applications will cease on 5 September 2018. That is, any priority processing email requests which are received on, or after, this date will no longer be acknowledged. Read more here.

Accredited Sponsorship is the best route to ensure that the lower risk sponsors have access to priority allocation and streamlined processing for their overseas workers through the TSS 482 visa.

Additional Pathway to Permanent Residency for New Zealand Citizens

An additional pathway to Permanent Residency will be available from the 1st of July 2017 for NZ citizens who are special category visa holders, have been in Australia for at least 5 years, have arrived after the 26th February 2001 and can demonstrate set annual minimum income levels.

Up to 80,000 Kiwis are expected to become eligible for Permanent Residency and applications are expected to be capped and queued.

5 November 2018

Three year WHV and changes to Seasonal Worker Program

Introduction of a third year visa option for WHM (subclasses 417 and 462), who from 1 July 2019 onwards complete six months of regional work in the second year. Read more here.

29 November 2018

New guidelines on the ACT’s 190 nomination program

The ACT Government’s current system will go OFF LINE on Tuesday 27 November 2018 to enable the change over to the new Expression of Interest (from hereon called the Canberra Matrix to avoid confusion with Home Affairs EOI). Read more here

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