FAQs regarding Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) reforms

FAQs regarding reforms

19 April 2017 changes

Q1. What has already changed?

A. As of 19 April 2017:

  • the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) has been replaced with the new Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL);
  • the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) has been replaced with the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL);
  • there has been a reduction of 216 occupations available for subclass 457 visa programme applications;
  • 59 caveats now apply to specified occupations – these either relate to work experience, regional location or are occupation specific; and
  • new visa validity periods also apply under the standard subclass 457 programme with a maximum 2 year period available for occupations that are eligible for the subclass 457 programme but not on the new MLTSSL.

Q2. Can people still apply for subclass 457 visas?

A. Yes. The subclass 457 programme remains open until the new TSS visa comes into effect in March 2018. The occupation list has been restricted (19 April 2017) and integrity settings will be further tightened.

Q3. Where can I find a list of removed occupations?

A. This is available on the Department’s website.

Q4. Why were occupations removed?

A. They were removed due to a wide range of
factors including: immigration integrity concerns,
low usage over the last five years, being reserved
for Australian citizens (e.g. magistrate) and based
on advice from the Department of Employment.

Q5. Where can I find information about the

A. This is available on the Department’s website.
Agents have also been provided with interim
guidelines on these caveats until the 457
Nominations Procedural Instructions (PI) are
updated for 1 July 2017. We will continue to
expand this advice in the future based on feedback
from agents and staff.

Note: Additional FAQs specifically on caveats is
also provided below.

Q6. Do the above changes have any impacts on
existing subclass 457 visa holders?

A. No – unless they wish to change employers or
positions, in which case a new nomination will
need to be approved under the new arrangements.


  • This will include situations where due to business
    structure changes, an employer is required to
    lodge a new sponsorship application and is
    required to lodge new nomination applications to
    accommodate existing subclass 457 visa holders
    (unless they continue to work for an associated
    entity of an Australian sponsor).
  • A new nomination approval for an occupation
    listed on the STSOL will not result in reduction of
    the visa period already held by the visa holder.

Q7. My client has a pending application where
the occupation has been removed from the list
– what happens now?

A. Once the application has reached the
assessment stage, you will be contacted by the
Department and given the opportunity to withdraw
your application in writing. The letter will specify a
period for required response (i.e. 14 days for
nomination applications and 28 days for visa

Alternatively, you can request a withdrawal in
writing at any time and your client will then be
entitled to a refund of the application fee. If you do
not withdraw your application, it will be refused.


  • If seeking to withdraw a visa application, we
    ask that you complete and attach Form 1446
    to ImmiAccount where possible to facilitate
    faster processing.
  • If seeking to withdraw a nomination application,
    we ask that you attach a written request to this
    effect to ImmiAccount where possible to facilitate
    faster processing.
  • Once a withdrawal has been actioned, the
    process to facilitate a refund will be initiated.
    Applications which do not meet the requirements
    and are not withdrawn within the prescribed
    timeframes will be refused. No refund will be
    provided in such circumstances.

Q8. What about situations where my client has
a pending application but a caveat now

A. Once the application has reached the assessment
stage, an officer will assess whether or not the caveat
applies. If it does, the same withdrawal and refund
options as noted above (Q7) will be made available to
the client – as the occupation is no longer ‘on the list’
in the circumstances specified.

Note: where a caveat may apply, but the nomination
has already been approved and it is only the visa
application that is outstanding, the Department will
assess caveats for visa applicants based on information
already available on Departmental systems. We will not
seek further information if there is no clear indication
that a caveat applies.

Q9. Can I get a refund for an approved nomination if
a related visa application now cannot be approved?

A. Yes, if, a subclass 457 visa application is unable to
be granted where the approved nomination is for an
occupation that has been removed from the list, the
sponsoring business can request that the nomination be
withdrawn and request a refund of the nomination fee.


  • If seeking to withdraw your approved nomination,
    we ask that you utilise Form 1446 where possible
    to facilitate faster processing.
    The completed form should be emailed through
    to [email protected].
  • Once a withdrawal has been actioned, the
    process to facilitate a refund will be initiated.

Q10. Can I get a refund of my sponsorship fee
if my sponsorship application has been lodged
and/or approved but I no longer wish to use the
subclass 457 programme due to the changes
in occupation lists?

A. No – a refund is not available under the
legislative framework.

Q11. Can I change the nominated occupation?

A. No – but you can withdraw and lodge a new
nomination with a new occupation specified for the
nominee. This may, however, raise concerns about
the genuineness of the position – particularly if the
new occupation is substantially different.

Q12. Can I change the nominated base salary
for a position post lodgement of the

A. Yes – you can provide updated information to
the Department via ImmiAccount, but you must
also provide an updated contract of employment
reflecting the new salary rate. This may, however,
raise concerns about the genuineness of the
position and whether the local labour market has
been effectively tested.

Q13. What is the impact of 19 April 2017
changes on the subsequent dependant

A. Nil – if the primary visa application has been
granted, then subsequent dependant applicants
can still be granted for the same period as the
primary (subject to any 457 MOFU extension

Q14. Do the changes impact cases that have a
review application pending?

A. Yes – the AAT must make a decision based on
the current framework – i.e. they are required to
take into account recent occupation removals and

Q15. Will the reforms affect visa processing

A. Processing times are expected to slow down in
the short term as staff become familiar with the
new arrangements. Additional concurrent
measures are, however, being considered for
1 July 2017 to streamline processing for lower risk
sponsors – including possible further expansion of
457 accredited sponsor arrangements.

Applying the caveats

Q16. What are caveats?

A. Occupational caveats
are additional
requirements for certain
occupations to
demonstrate that the
position you have nominated is appropriate for a
skilled visa programme.

Caveats do not prevent lodgement of all applications
for that particular occupation. They limit use of the
occupation in certain circumstances.

These caveats will be subject to regular review and may
be added, altered or removed in future.

Q17. Where the caveat requires a business to
have a turnover of at least $1M, what is the
period in which $1M turnover is considered?

A. From 1 July 2017, the subclass 457 nomination
form will collect information regarding the turnover of
the business for the last financial year, which will be
used to determine whether or not this caveat applies.

Up until this time, the Department will use existing
information available on our systems if they indicate
that this element of a caveat is met. Where such
information is not available in Departmental systems,
additional information will be sought from the
sponsoring company. If this occurs, it is
recommended that agents provide financial
information to cover the last financial year.
Independently verifiable information should be
provided where possible.

Q18. Can the $1M include turnover from related

A. No – this relates to the sponsoring business only.

Q19. Can the $1M turnover figure include GST?

A. No.

Q20. Will occupational caveats apply to
businesses that have traded for less than 12
months? If so, will projected turnover suffice
where relevant?

A. Yes – they apply. In general, projected turnover
will not suffice. As above, the turnover needs to be
at least $1M for the last financial year. However,
the Department will consider exceptional
circumstances on a case by case basis.

Q21. Where the caveat requires a business to
have a minimum of five employees, are there
any restrictions on the type of employee
(e.g. do they have to be full time, Australian)?

A. No – not at this stage. If the business declares
that they have five employees and this is
consistent with other information provided (e.g.
structure chart for business etc.), then this will be
accepted unless the Department has concerns that
this is not the case. From 1 July 2017, the subclass
457 nomination form will ask companies to declare
their total number of employees and how many are
Australian/overseas workers, as per the current
subclass 457 sponsorship form.

Q22. Where the caveats require at least two
years of work experience, what does this

A. This means that a successful candidate for the
nominated position would be expected to have
completed at least two years full time (as per the
industry standard) work experience in the relevant
occupation post qualification.

The Department recognises that work experience
may take different forms for different occupations.
For example, relevant experience for a University
lecturer could include conducting research in a
particular field of knowledge and/or teaching

Additional permanent visa questions

Q23. Is the Regional Sponsored Migration
Scheme impacted by the 19 April 2017

A. No – this is because you can nominate any
occupation that is ANZSCO skill level 1 to 3 for this
programme (i.e. you are not restricted to the MLTSSL
and the STSOL at this stage).

Q24. How do the above changes impact other
permanent visa programmes?

A. The above changes do not impact on hand
(‘pipeline’) applications for other skilled permanent
visa programmes.

The removal of occupations from the list will,
however, impact clients who lodge an application
for one of the following on or after 19 April 2017:

  • Employer Nominated Scheme (subclass 186) –
    Direct Entry Stream
  • Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
  • Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489)

That is, any applications already lodged before
19 April 2017 for the above visa subclasses (other than
a 457 visa) will not be impacted (even if the occupation
was removed for these visas on 19 April 2017).

Q25. Do the caveats impact permanent visa

A. No – the new caveats only impact subclass 457
applications. Caveats existing prior to 19 April
2017 that impacted other visas remain unchanged.

Q26. Can you still apply for ENS if your
occupation is on the STSOL but not the MTSSL?

A. Yes – currently, if your occupation is on the
STSOL or an eligible occupation on the MLTSSL
you can apply for the ENS Direct Entry stream.

Current holders of subclass 457 visas continue to
be eligible to apply for permanent residency
through the Temporary Residence Transition
(TRT) stream of the ENS visa. Access to the TRT
stream is not based on the occupation lists and is
therefore unaffected by these changes.

Other temporary visa questions

Q27. Do the above changes impact on hand
(‘pipeline’) applications for other temporary visa
programmes that utilise the MLTSSL and/or the

A. The above changes do not impact on hand
(‘pipeline’) applications for other temporary visa
programmes that utilise the MLTSSL and/or the
STSOL. The removal of occupations from the list
will, however, impact clients who lodge an
application on or after 19 April 2017 for
the Training visa (subclass 407).

1 July 2017 changes

Q28. What reforms are being implemented on
1 July 2017?

A. Key reforms that will be implemented from
July 2017 for subclass 457 visas include:

  • expanding mandatory skills assessments;
  • introducing mandatory penal clearance checks
    consistent with other visas;
  • tightening existing training benchmarks; and
  • removing English language exemptions based
    on a skilled migrant’s salary (e.g. if their salary
    is higher than $96,400).

Q29. Will there be further changes to the
occupation lists for 1 July 2017?

A. Yes – it is expected that the occupation lists will
be regularly updated, based on a range of factors
including advice from the Department of
Employment and the Department of Education and

Q30. Why are mandatory skills assessment
requirements being expanded?

A. The skills assessment requirements are being
considered for expansion to cover a small number
of new cohorts of concern. For example, where
particular combinations of occupation and
nationality have been identified as an integrity risk.

Q31. What nationalities/occupations will be

A. A final decision has not been made in this
space. Registered migration agents will be
informed of the specific changes proposed via an
agents newsletter prior to 1 July 2017.

Q32. What changes are being made to
character requirements and why?

A. As of 1 July 2017, all subclass 457 applicants
aged 17 years or older will be required to provide
penal clearance certificates for countries in which
they have lived for a significant period.
This measure will strengthen current character and
integrity measures and will bring subclass 457
visas into line with other longer stay temporary visa

Q33. What changes are being made to the
training benchmarks?

A. Policy settings for training benchmark
requirements are being clarified and tightened, by
setting out:

  • the types of training funds eligible for training
    benchmark A; and
  • setting out the types of expenditure on training
    that are acceptable for training benchmark B.

The Department also intends to provide agents
with additional guidelines around documentation
required to demonstrate that an applicant has met
the relevant training benchmarks via a later edition
of this newsletter.

Additional permanent visa questions

Q34. What reforms will be implemented on
1 July 2017 for ENS and RSMS?

A. On 1 July 2017, the additional changes below
will be implemented for ENS and RSMS:

  • raising English language requirements to
    “competent” for all applicants (IELTS 6) – with
    TRT and Direct Entry requirements to be
  • upper age limit of 45 for Direct Entry
  • 3 years skill and experience for Direct Entry
    applicants; and
  • further changes to the occupations lists and
    their application to relevant visas.

March 2018 changes

Q35. What is the Temporary Skill
Shortage (TSS) visa?

A. The new TSS visa will replace the 457 visa.
It will have two distinct streams: a Short-term
stream of up to two years and a Medium-term
stream of up to four years.

Q36. How much will the TSS visa cost?

A. There will be different Visa Application Charges
(VAC) for the TSS visa. The base VAC for:

  • the Short-term stream is $1150; and
  • the Medium-term stream is $2400.

Q37. What are the changes to the English
language requirements?

A. The English requirements for the Short-term stream
of the new TSS visa will be the same as the current
457 visa, with a minimum IELTS result (or equivalent)
of 4.5 in each test component required, and an overall
score of 5.

There will be a higher standard required for the
Medium-term stream with a score of 5 required in
each test component.

Q38. Will holders of the TSS visa have a
pathway to become Australian permanent

A. Yes – under the Medium-term stream only.

Q39. Will the Temporary Income Skilled
Migration Threshold (TSMIT) be indexed?

A. No – in considering options for the abolition of
the subclass 457 visa and its replacement with a
new TSS visa, the Government decided not to
index the TSMIT at this time.

Q40. What will change in terms of labour
market testing?

A. Labour market testing will be a mandatory
requirement for the TSS visa, unless international
trade obligations apply.

Q41. How will the TSS visa require employers
to assist with training Australian workers?

A. The TSS visa will require employers nominating
skilled overseas workers to contribute to training
Australian workers. Details of the revised training
requirement will be provided in a subsequent
edition of this newsletter.

Additional permanent visa questions

Q42. What reforms will be implemented for ENS
and RSMS in March 2018?

A. From March 2018, new eligibility criteria for ENS
and RSMS will include:

  • an upper age limit of 45 (from 50) for most
  • occupation must be on the MLTSSL (unless an
    additional occupation approved for regional areas);
  • a minimum market rate salary: all visa holders
    must earn at least a minimum salary of
    $53,900 – that is the TSMIT;
  • at least three years’ relevant work experience; and
  • a pathway to permanent residence through TRT
    requires 3 years on Medium-term TSS visa.
    More information will be provided about these changes
    to registered migration agents closer to 2018.

Q43. What transitional or ‘grandfathering’
arrangements will be in place for those who already
hold a subclass 457 visa before March 2018?

A. More information concerning the legislative details
of future changes will be available closer to their
implementation date. This will include information
about transitional arrangements for visa applicants
and visa holders.

Labour agreements

Q. Do these changes have any impact on labour agreements?

A. No – the subclass 457 visa abolition and replacement changes have no immediate impact on the labour
agreement programme with:

  • existing labour agreements remaining in effect;
  • existing visa holders not impacted unless they apply for another visa impacted by the changes outside of
    the labour agreement programme; or
  • new nominations that labour agreement sponsors intend to lodge and related visa applications are not
    impacted – including applications for occupations which are specified in the relevant labour agreement, but
    have were ‘removed’ from the standard programme on 19 April 2017.

The Department will amend all existing labour agreements at some time prior to March 2018 to reflect the
abolition of the subclass 457 visa – with no further applications for subclass 457s accepted after the introduction
of the TSS visa in March 2018.

Q. Will the Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) remain in place?

A. The DAMA with the Northern Territory will remain in place.

Q. Has anything else changed in the labour agreement programme?

A.The Department continues to review labour agreement arrangements to ensure that:

  • they reflect current economic and employment conditions
  • the local labour market is not undercut
  • Australian workers are given priority.

The Department will be updating its labour agreement information pack to reflect this shortly. Further changes
will also be made to the labour agreement request proforma to ensure that the Department obtains more
comprehensive information ‘upfront’ to help streamline the request process.

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