Australia: Immigration Reform Updates

Australian immigration updates and reminders include: • Lengthier processing times for the subclass 457 visa program; • Accredited Sponsors are not affected by lengthier processing times; • Sponsors, beginning in March 2018, will be required to contribute to the Skilling Australians Fund; • An increase in government filing fees; and • Introduction of a more robust labor market testing for the Temporary Skills Shortage visa program.

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Feb 03, 2018

The situation

The Australian immigration system is currently undergoing many significant changes.

A closer look

  • 457 processing times. An increase in processing times for the subclass 457 visa program.
    • Current processing time. It is taking approximately four months for applications to be assigned to a case officer.
    • Initial assessments. The Department of Home Affairs (the Department) is currently making initial assessments of applications filed before or on September 28, 2017.
    • Requests for Further Information. For applications where the Department has issued a request for further information (RFI), the Department is currently making a further assessment of applications filed in March 2017.
    • Impact. Foreign nationals and employers should note that it will take longer than usual to process subclass 457 visa applications and plan accordingly.
  • Accredited Sponsors. The above processing times do not impact sponsors who have Accredited Sponsor status.
    • Current processing time. The current processing time for subclass 457 nomination applications filed by accredited sponsors is generally less than five days.
    • Streamlined process. The Department has announced that in March 2018, it plans to implement auto-approval (i.e., bypassing assessment by a case officer) for complete streamlined lower-risk nomination applications lodged by accredited sponsors.
    • Impact. Fragomen strongly recommends that qualifying businesses become an accredited sponsor to ensure access to the benefits of priority processing and streamlined visa issuance arrangements. There are a number of ways that businesses can qualify for Accredited Sponsor status. Please contact your immigration professional for more information on how to become an Accredited Sponsor.
  • Skilling Australians Fund. Employers are reminded that beginning March 2018, all 457 sponsors will be required to contribute to the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) at the time of filing nomination applications in the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa program, the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Stream (RSMS). The requirement to pay SAF contributions will replace the current requirement to demonstrate the sponsor’s own training expenditure.
    • TSS visa program. The TSS program will consist of two occupation categories:
      • The Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL), which provides a TSS visa with a maximum duration of two years; and
      • The Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), which provides a TSS visa with a maximum duration of four years.
      • For the TSS program, the SAF contribution is up to AUD 1,800 for each year of the visa duration. For example, the SAF contribution would be AUD 3,600 for a two-year visa while it would be AUD 7,200 for a four-year visa.
      • The SAF contribution is discounted to AUD 1,200 per year for small businesses with revenues of under AUD 10 million.
    • ENS and RSMS visa programs.
      • The SAF contribution is set at AUD 5,000 as a one-time payment for businesses with revenues of AUD 10 million or more and AUD 3,000 for small businesses with revenues of under AUD 10 million.
    • Impact.  Employers should be aware of the higher costs of SAF contributions.
  • Increase in government filing fees. The introduction of the TSS visa to replace the subclass 457 visa in March 2018 will coincide with an increase in government filling fees.
    • STSOL occupations fees. Visa application fees will increase to AUD 1,150 for primary applicants and adult secondary applicants and AUD 290 for child secondary applicants.
    • MLTSSL occupation fees. Visa application fees will increase to AUD 2,400 for primary applicants and adult secondary applicants and AUD 600 for child secondary applicants.
    • Impact. Employers should be aware of the higher costs of the new filing fees.
  • Labor Market Testing (LMT) for TSS. Beginning in March 2018, more robust LMT arrangements will be implemented for TSS applications, and occupation exemptions to the LMT will no longer be available unless and international trade obligation applies. Details of the new LMT system have not yet been announced.
    • Department newsletter on LMT for TSS. In its Skilled Visas January 2018 Newsletter, the Department has stated that they believe employers will not have difficulty meeting the new requirements for LMT given the following:
      • Sponsors are already expected to test the labor market before utilizing the subclass 457 program (except where international trade obligations apply); and
      • The requirement will be able to be met by employers who advertise key job details, in English, via a channel that has sufficient coverage.
    • Impact. Standard business sponsors should implement a practice, if not in place already, to keep records of advertisements and evidence of payment for those advertisements in a readily reproducible format for use in TSS applications from March 2018.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to

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Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates, (collectively known as “Fragomen Worldwide”) is the world’s largest firm dedicated to corporate immigration, and is recognized as the leading global immigration services provider.

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