What you need to know about the 457>482 Australian visa changes

Ever since the government announced they were changing the rules for temporary migration there has been a great deal of spin and political speak that has created uncertainty for both employers and employees on what these changes mean for them.

So I recently sat down with Sarah Gillis from Aspire Australia (www.AspireAustralia.com.au) to better understand what this means for the firms and individuals Calibre typically work with in the transport and professional services industries. Most of the enquiries we get are from individuals and employers wanting to understand what it means for professionals looking to stay for the long term – with this in mind the article will mostly focus on those looking at staying in Australia for the medium to long term.

Please note – these are my words and anyone looking to use the 482 scheme should seek a consultation with a registered migration agent before making any decisions.

What’s in and what’s out?

The employer sponsored 457 scheme has been replaced by a new temporary visa, the 482 visa. Similar to the 457 visa Applicants for this visa must nominate an occupation in one of two streams:

  • Medium Term (MLTSSL)– permits grant of a visa for up to four years and allows people to go down the path of employer sponsored permanent residency if their occupation remains on the MLTSSL
  • Short Term (STSOL) - allows for a visa for up to two years, which may be renewed once onshore. 482 visa holders with an STSOL occupation will have no pathway to permanent residency through the employer nomination programme

When did the changes come into effect?

The changes came into effect on 18th March 2018. There are transitional provisions, however, for those who held or had a pending application for a 457 visa on 18 April 2017. For this group, the ‘old’ rules of eligibility for the Employer Nomination visa continue to apply – as long as the permanent residence visa is lodged prior to 18 March 2022. For everyone else the new rules apply.

What are the most important things to consider for people exploring working visa options for Australia?

  • Visa stream and duration will depend on your occupation and the willingness of an employer to commit to sponsorship.
  • Three years with employer before applying for PR - For those looking to move from 482 visas to become permanent residents – you must have been with your employer for three years before applying (previously this was two years). Note that if you move positions / employers this three-year timeframe resets.
  • The age limit for PR has been lowered from 50 to 45 years old and refers to the applicant’s age at the date of the PR application. This means that, if you start work on your 482 visa when you are 42 years or older then you will not be able to complete the required three years before turning 45 years and would not be eligible. Some exceptions apply.. So for those looking to move to Australia permanently and nearing the age of 40 then it is best not to put it off!

What happens if you are on a 482 and it's not working out?

Similar to the situation under the 457 programme, it is still possible for employees to transfer their 482 visa to another firm that has an approved nomination for the new employee. Remember, however, that if you are looking to move to Permanent Residency then you will need three years with your current employer. Ultimately, once you hit 42 years, the option to move firms and still get PR through the employer nomination programme, all but disappears.

 So here is a quick visual of the potential winners and losers based on various scenarios

The Upsides

  • If your profession is still on the MLTSSL then the 482 visa offers the opportunity to relocate to Australia and still have a route to Permanent Residency. Much as the 457 did.
  • If you are just looking to live in Australia for a finite time then those on the STSOL skills list still have the option available to them (as do the MLTSSL). As long as both parties want the visa to be renewed (and the skills remain on the list) then you can stay for as long as 6 years.
  • Employers get more security/comfort in sponsoring someone to join their firm from overseas as the length of commitment for the individual to apply for residency has extended. Theoretically this could boost firm’s willingness to sponsor and boost demand.

Potential Downsides

  • Professionals no longer covered by the shortened MLTSSL skills list that want to stay in Australia permanently.
  • Professionals in their mid 40’s looking for a permanent move – Australia is no longer a viable option (barring a few exceptions). This for me is at the expense of the country overall – working age is getting longer and cutting out people still in their prime is guaranteed to lead to greater skill deficiencies in key areas - not to mention leadership.
  • Professionals nearing or over 40 - there is still time but it is tight and really needs your first role to work out and employer you are confident will sponsor you for PR.
  • For those who join a firm on a 482 but it isn’t working out. The combination of the 3 years the visa holder must spend with employer to apply for PR, and the lowering of the age limit, will limit the mobility of people in the market. People. Especially those nearing the age limit will have little option but to try and tolerate it – in my opinion this is negative for employers and employees alike. My only advice is research your options thoroughly.
  • Organisations that do not have internal visa teams -the level of uncertainty the changes have created can not be underestimated and even getting the info right in this article took multiple attempts. I can recommend Sarah from Aspire if you need more information (details at the bottom of this post).

Conclusion

Unless you are one of those directly affected by the downsides listed above then the biggest upheaval is the uncertainty the changes and political hyperbole that have been thrown around in relation to ‘foreign workers’.

Whilst most of the professions we work with have remained on the MLTSSL list there is no doubt that we have seen a significant cooling of interest in overseas talent in the past 12 months. Given the engineering and ‘infrastructure professions’ are already suffering significant skills shortages it is fair to say the true impact of this will be felt most in the next five years (as a result of chronic under-investment in Australian graduate schemes between 2009 and 2014 but this is another story).

Need more help or info? I hope this has been of some help to those who read it. If you have any further questions then do reach out. If you are looking for more formal advice on your specific circumstances, then I recommend contacting Sarah Gillis from Aspire Australia. She was great to work with and able to provide clarity in an area full of uncertainty.

Here is a link to Sarah/Aspire's details - www.aspireaustralia.com.au / visas@aspireaustralia.com.au / (02) 99566011. And here is a link for the official government portal - https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/482-