2018 Australian Visas and Immigration Update

2018 will see a number of changes introduced to the Australian Skilled (GSM) , Employer Sponsored visas (ENS) and Family Visa Program. The Upcoming Migration Changes in 2018 page is updated on a regular basis. We have listed here the main 2018 Australian Visas and Immigration Updates:

1st July 2017

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.

General Skilled Migration Changes

  • 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.

October 2017

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.

November 2017

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  2017

Employer Sponsored Migrants

The DIBP 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 DIBP 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

  • Latest selection round (21st February 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)
  • 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:

NEW TSS/186/187 LEGISLATION COMMENCING 18 MARCH 2018

On 8 May 2018 the Skilling Australia Fund (SAF) legislation has passed the senate. The Migration Regulations and policy on this have not yet been released therefore the implementation date is yet to be confirmed.

The SAF will replace the previous mandatory training benchmarks, which applied to approved Standard Business Sponsorship (SBS) or employer sponsored permanent residency applications.

Last updated 10 May 2018. © SeekVisa International Pty Ltd

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