Category : AUSTRALIA

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Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (BTC) for Australian citizens

The APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to facilitate economic growth and prosperity in the region. The BTC is a travel document issued to business travellers who are citizens of APEC participating economies and provides them with reciprocal entry arrangements in nearly all APEC economies

Budget 2017-18 Overview & the Immigration program

The 2017-18 Budget handed down tonight included the following elements impacting the immigration program.

Visa Application Charges (VAC) increase: Indexation of visa application charges will occur from 1 July 2017. All current VACs will be indexed annually in line with the forecast Consumer Price Index (CPI).

  • Indexation applies only to the 1st instalment component of the VAC, for both primary and secondary applicants.
  • Indexation does not apply to 2nd instalment VACs.

Permanent Migration programme: 

The permanent migration programme will remain at 190,000 places for the 2017-18 programme.

Temporary Skills Shortage visas : 

As previously announced the Subclass 457 visa will be abolished and replaced by the dual stream Temporary Skills Shortage visa.  The Skilled Occupation List is replaced by the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List. The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List is replaced by the Short-term Skilled Occupation List.

Training Benchmarks – Skilling Australians Fund Levy: 

This levy will replace the current training benchmarks for employers sponsoring workers on Subclass 457 and permanent Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 visas. From March 2018, businesses with turnover of less than $10 million per year will be required to:

  • make an upfront payment of $1,200 per visa per year for each employee on a Temporary Skill Shortage visa
  • a one-off payment of $3,000 for each employee being sponsored for a permanent Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa or a permanent Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.

Businesses with turnover of $10 million or more per year will be required to:

  • make an upfront payment of $1,800 per visa year for each employee on a Temporary Skill Shortage visa
  • a one-off payment of $5,000 for each employee being sponsored for a permanent Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa or a permanent Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187) visa.

This measure is estimated to achieve revenue of $1.2 billion over the forward estimates period, which will be used to meet future skills needs, with a particular focus on apprenticeships and traineeships.

Temporary Sponsored Parent visa: 

The new temporary sponsored parent visa will be introduced in November 2017, with 15,000 visas to be made available annually. This visa will allow the temporary stay of sponsored parents in Australia for periods of up to three or five years. The visa may be renewed from outside Australia to allow a cumulative stay of up to ten years. Temporary sponsored parent visa holders will not be eligible to apply onshore for a permanent parent visa. The visa holder’s sponsor, their Australian child, will have legal liability for any public health expenditure (including aged care arrangements) incurred by the visa holder in Australia.


Age Pension and Disability Support Pension (DSP) eligibility: 

From 1 July 2018, stricter residency rules for new migrants to access Australian pensions will be introduced.  Claimants will be required to have 15 years of continuous Australian residence before being eligible to receive the Age Pension or DSP unless they have either:

  • 10 years continuous Australian residence, with five years of this residence being during their working life (16 years of age to Age Pension age); or
  • 10 years continuous Australian residence, without having received an activity tested income support payment for a cumulative period of five years.
  • Existing exemptions for DSP applicants who acquire their disability in Australia will continue to apply.

Foreign Investors: 

A Foreign Investors Tax Levy of $5000 per year will be imposed on foreign investors who do not occupy or lease their Australian properties for at least 6 months of the year.

The Government will extend Australia’s foreign resident capital gains tax (CGT) regime by:

  • denying foreign and temporary tax residents access to the CGT main residence exemption from 7:30PM (AEST) on 9 May 2017, however existing properties held prior to this date will be grandfathered until 30 June 2019
  • increasing the CGT withholding rate for foreign tax residents from 10.0 per cent to 12.5 per cent, from 1 July 2017
  • reducing the CGT withholding threshold for foreign tax residents from $2 million to $750,000, from 1 July 2017


Humanitarian Programme:

The number of refugee resettlement places will increase by 2,500 to a total of 16,250 places in the 2017-18 programme.

In addition, the Community Support Programme will be expanded to offer 1000 sponsored refugee resettlement places. This programme enables individuals, groups and businesses to sponsor humanitarian entrants to Australia. Sponsors will be required to support humanitarian entrants during their first year in Australia, including funding the visa application, airfares and settlement services, and refunding any working age payments made to the humanitarian entrant.

All permanent humanitarian visa holders, including Community Support Programme entrants, will continue to have access to Medicare, English language tuition and employment services (if eligible).

An additional $21.2 million will be allocated in 2017-18 to continue regional processing and resettlement arrangements. This includes funding to support the closure of the Manus Island facility in Papua New Guinea, and of regional processing activities in Nauru

Savings of $46.8 million will be achieved over the five years from 2016-17 by resolving the protection status of Illegal Maritime Arrivals (IMAs).

Department of Immigration and Border Protection: 

The Government will invest $185.4 million over four years from 2017-18 in significant reforms to Australia’s visa processing arrangements, including:

  • enhancements to the visa framework to support economic and migration objectives;
  • improvements to existing ICT systems to support the potential for expanded service delivery by market based providers; and
  • replacements of existing ICT systems to enhance the Government’s ability to verify the identity of individuals arriving in Australia.


Total resourcing for the Department will decrease from the 2016-17 Budget estimate of $7.6 billion to an estimated $6.4 billion for 2017-18.

Enhancing the visa system

Automation and technology will be further improved to facilitate the processing of the rising number of travellers. An allocation of $35.4 million in forward estimates will be made to fund a long term programme to enhance the visa system.


An allocation of $59.9 million over four years will be made to enhance large scale biometrics storage and processing capabilities, commencing 1 July 2017. This will allow higher volume storage, analysis and data sharing of facial image and fingerprint biometrics.

Staffing levels

The overall staffing levels of the Department is projected to decrease from 14,000 to 13,755 positions, down 245 staff positions overall.



General Skilled Migration (GSM) & Skilled Occupation Lists -Australia

The Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will apply to following visa subclasses which are lodged as from 19 April 2017.  Any applications lodged already in these visa categories will not be affected.

  • Skilled Independent (subclass 189),
  • Skilled Regional family sponsored (subclass 489)
  • Temporary Graduate – Graduate work stream (subclass 485) visas

The Short-term Skilled List (STSOL) which with the MLTSSL will apply to all new Employer nomination Direct Entry (subclass 186), Skilled Nominated (subclass 190), Skilled Regional state sponsored (subclass 489), Temporary work (subclass 457) and Training (subclass 407) visas.



For Eligibility Assessment: You must forward resume & English Language test results.

  • Be aged between 18 and 49 inclusive
  • Pass Skills Assessment in an occupation on the relevant MLTSSL
  • Have Competent English or higher.



VETASSESS and the changes

What does this change mean for VETASSESS applicants?

If your nominated occupation isn’t affected by this reform, then you do not need to do anything. VETASSESS is continuing to process your Skills Assessment application as usual.

If your pending Skill Assessment application is significantly affected by this reform including removal from the list of eligible occupations, you will receive an email from VETASSESS in the coming days outlining the available options.

If you are a potential applicant waiting to lodge a Skills Assessment application through VETASSESS, please refer to the most current list of eligible occupations at It is your responsibility to ensure that you have nominated the correct occupation for the purposes of a skills assessment for the available visa category.



Labour Agreements Update

The recent announcements regarding changes to Australia’s skilled visa programmes which came into effect from 19 April 2017 currently have no impact on the labour agreement programme.

At this time:

  • existing labour agreements remain in effect;
  • existing visa holders are not impacted unless they apply for another visa impacted by the changes outside of the labour agreement programme;
  • new nominations lodged and related visa applications not impacted – including applications for occupations which have been ‘removed’ from the standard programme or are now subject to a caveat in the standard programme but remain specified in your agreement.

Extract from MIA.

Timeline of future 457 changes

from 19 April 2017 – 216 occupations removed and 59 others restricted, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, Occupational lists renamed, validity period for occupations on STSOL 2 years.

from 01 July 2017 – English salary exemption $96,400 to be removed, training benchmarks to be changed, mandatory penal clearance certificates.

before 31 December 2017 – collection of TFN for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors.

from March 2018 – 457 visa abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term(2 years) and Medium-Term stream(4 years).

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS visa)

The 457 visa will be abolished from March 2018. The 457 will be replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortages (TSS) visa from this date.

The TSS visa will have higher requirements than the current 457 visa – in particular:

  • Minimum of 2 years work experience
  • Labour Market Testing for most applicants
  • Higher English for 4-year visas

TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term(2 years) and Medium-Term stream(4 years).


Subclass 457 visa eligible occupations

See: 2017/040 Specification of occupations, a person or body, a country or countries Amendment Instrument. A combined list of eligible skilled occupations which includes the occupations on both schedules in alphabetical order is available.

Occupations listed in both Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 in the following instrument were eligible for subclass 457 visas.
See: 2016/059Specification of occupations, a person or body, a country or countries 2016

These occupations are described in accordance with the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations.
See: Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations


Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa

On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

The TSS visa programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

This new visa is part of the Government’s significant reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australia’s temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes.

Key reforms include:

  • Introducing the temporary skill shortage visa with new requirements, including but not limited to:
    • new, more targeted occupation lists which better align with skill needs in the Australian labour market
    • a requirement for visa applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation
    • a minimum market salary rate which ensures that overseas workers cannot be engaged to undercut Australian workers
    • mandatory labour market testing, unless an international obligation applies,
    • capacity for only one onshore visa renewal under the Short-Term stream
    • capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the Medium-Term stream
    • the permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years
    • a non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers
    • strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers
    • the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records, and
    • mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.
  • Tightening eligibility requirements for employer sponsored permanent skilled visas, including but not limited to:
    • tightened English language requirements
    • a requirement for visa applicants to have at least three years’ work experience
    • applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application
    • strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers, and
    • employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold1.
  • Concessions for regional Australia will continue to be available:
    • Employers in regional Australia will continue to have access to occupations under the temporary and permanent visas, to reflect their skills needs.
    • Existing permanent visa concessions for regional Australia, such as waiving the nomination fee and providing age exemptions for certain occupations, will be retained. Consideration will be given to expanding the occupations in regional Australia that are exempt from the age requirement.
  • Significantly condensing the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas, including the subclass 457 visa, from 19 April 2017.

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018.

Further information on reforms is available:

Further information on different aspects of the reforms will be published in due course.

1 Set at $53,900 as at 12 April 2016.

Extract from: