Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

We're sure you have questions!  We have tried to address the most frequently asked questions regarding the TSS Visa below.

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Application Process

What is the application process for the TSS visa?

A very detailed breakdown of the process can be found in our detailed TSS information pages - we recommend you start with the introductory TSS Visa Guide.

When do I lodge the TSS Sponsorship, Nomination and Visa applications?

The business (employer) must be an approved Sponsor to nominate someone for a TSS visa.

Only once the Sponsorship is lodged, can you lodge the Nomination application. Once this has been lodged, you can then lodge the Visa application. All three applications can be lodged in quick succession, before a decision is made on any given application, provided they are lodged in that order.

Once the Nomination has been approved, you will have 12 months to lodge the Visa application before the Nomination expires.

What if the employee is already a 457 or TSS visa holder?

If this is the case, the visa holder is subject to a condition on their visa that means they are only allowed to work for their approved Sponsor.

Before a TSS visa holder can change whom they work for, Immigration needs to first approve the details of the role and the salary. The Sponsorship obligations that relate to the visa holder also need to be transferred to the new approved Sponsor. All these things are done via the new employer lodging a new Nomination application.

Again, an employer must be an approved sponsor to lodge a Nomination application. The standard Nomination process can then be followed, and we have outlined this on our TSS Nomination requirements page.

A new Visa application is generally not required.

Four really important points on Nomination transfers:

  • 1
    The visa holder cannot work for the new Sponsor until the new Nomination is in place. If they start work prior to the Nomination being approved, they will be in breach of their visa conditions.
  • 2
    The new Sponsor takes on the Sponsorship Obligations for the visa holder as soon as the new Nomination is approved.
  • 3
    The validity dates on the original visa do not change. The same visa remains in place, with the same expiry date. If you want a longer visa period a new visa application needs to be lodged.
  • 4
    A Nomination transfer application may significantly impact the visa holder’s eligibility for permanent residence. This can be complicated to assess, and depends on a number of factors including occupation and when the original 457/TSS visa was approved.  

Visa holders who have been nominated in an occupation in the Medium to Long-Term Strategic Skills list (MLTSSL) will generally be eligible for permanent residence via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream once they have been working on their TSS visa for their sponsoring employer for at least 3 years (visa holders nominated in the Short-Term Stream are generally not eligible via this stream).

However, if a new Nomination is lodged to transfer the sponsorship to another approved Sponsor, this will ‘reset’ the 3 years of employment required to be eligible for the permanent visa.

CASE STUDY: Svetlana is the holder of a TSS visa sponsored by Construct Holdings Pty Ltd in the occupation Quantity Surveyor, which is on the Medium to Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). She began working for Construct Holdings on the TSS Visa on 15 August 2018. She was unhappy in her job, so found a new role with Builders-R-Us Pty Ltd in the same occupation. To allow her to work for them, Builders-R-Us, which is already and approved TSS Sponsor, lodged a new Nomination application. This was approved on 30 November 2018. Svetlana began working for Builders-R-Us on 5 December 2018. She will therefore not be eligible for a permanent visa via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream until at least 5 December 2021, subject to any periods of unpaid leave.

What if I made a mistake on my visa application?

If the mistake was made while you were preparing the form for lodgment, you can quite easily change your answer at any time before you submit.

If you noticed the mistake only after the application has been lodged, you should update Immigration right away. There can be serious repercussions if incorrect information has been provided with an application, particularly if a document is ‘bogus’ or if the information could be seen as misleading. A query of this nature from Immigration can, at best, result in substantial delays and, at worst, result in visa refusal, an exclusion period from Australia and potentially even a criminal investigation.

In your ImmiAccount, when you go into your application, there is an option on the left hand side to ‘Update Details’. If you click on this, it will give you the opportunity to provide a ‘Notification of Incorrect Answer(s)’, and specify which part of the form you are updating, the updated information, and why the information is being changed.

When providing updated information it is important to keep in mind all the other documents you have submitted with the application – that is, if you provide new or updated information, will that cause other information to appear incorrect or inconsistent?

Can I lodge my TSS application from inside Australia if I hold a Bridging Visa or I don’t hold a visa at all?

You may still be able to lodge your application onshore if you do not hold a substantive visa . However, it is important to note the only Bridging Visas eligible for a TSS visa are Bridging Visas A, B or C.

If you hold a Bridging Visa E, or no visa at all, you may be able to apply for a TSS visa, but additional steps will need to be taken in order to change your immigration status.

What if I need evidence of my work experience and my referee no longer works for that company, or the company has closed down?

You have a few options here. You can still ask this person to write you a reference, provided:

  • they explain that they no longer work for the company or that the company no longer exists;
  • they are very clear about how long they worked with you;
  • they are clear about your role and their role;
  • the reference meets all other requirements (including them providing their full contact details).

Immigration wants more information! How to Deal with Requests for Further Information

Sometimes, even if you lodge with every possible document you can think of, Immigration requests more information. If there is a request, you should read it carefully and seek to provide every document requested.

If you have been asked for something that has already been provided (which happens from time to time), re-upload it with a note explaining why you have done so. If you cannot provide something that is requested, again upload a note explaining why.

If you do not understand the request you can contact Immigration via return email to ask to speak to someone or get them to clarify further. Communication with Immigration can be challenging, but it is certainly worth trying if you are confused.

What if My Existing Visa Expires Before I Get a Decision?

When an applicant is on substantive visas (i.e. not a Bridging Visa) makes a visa application while in Australia they are generally granted a Bridging Visa A automatically. This visa allows them to remain in Australia while a decision is made on their application, regardless of how long it takes. The Bridging Visa does not come ‘into effect’ until the existing substantive visa expires.

When an applicant lodges their application they should receive a Bridging Visa grant via email.

What If I Need to Travel Overseas During Processing?

If an applicant wants to travel while their application is processed, and their Bridging Visa A is in effect, they will need to apply for a Bridging Visa B. If they don’t do this it can create big problems with re-entry to Australia.

A Bridging Visa B application can be made via ImmiAccount. There is a small fee and a form to complete.Applicants should allow at least 2 weeks for the application to be processed.

Including Family Members

How Does An Applicant Include Family Members in the Visa Application?

The primary applicant (i.e. the main person making the application) can only include someone in the application if they are a ‘member of the family unit’. While modern families can be a combination of many different people, there is a pretty strict definition in the Regulations. In short, applicants can only include:

  • Their spouse (de facto or married).
  • A biological child, step-child or dependant child, provided they:
  • they have not turned 18; OR
  • have turned 18 but are less than 23 and are still dependent on the family unit (i.e. are studying or living at home and have never worked full-time); OR
  • are not married or engaged to be married.

You will note the definition doesn’t include parents, parents-in-law or cousins: regardless of how dependent they are on the family unit, they cannot be included.

Family members over the age of 16 will need to show they meet the character requirement. More information can be found on our character requirement for Australian visas page.

Secondary applicants do not need to show they meet the English requirement for the TSS visa.

Will family members get work rights as well?

All family members included in the application will have no work limitation – this means the spouse of the primary visa holder can work without restriction.

What will the visa validity be for family members?

The visa will be granted for the same period as the primary visa holder, and no longer.

What if I include my relationship breaks down while the visa application is pending?

This is a substantial change in circumstances and Immigration needs to be informed as soon as you are sure the relationship has ended and will not be reconciled.

Once you have notified Immigration, your ex-partner can no longer be included in your application.

If the visa has been approved, the visa held by your ex-partner will be subject to cancellation.

If you are not the primary applicant and the relationship has ended due to family violence, you should seek further advice as to whether the application can proceed.

When the Visa is Approved

I was outside Australia when my TSS visa was approved – how long do I have to travel?

There is no particular deadline by which you will need to travel to Australia.

However, if you don’t enter Australia after many months, and this comes to the attention of Immigration, they may question your genuine intention to take up the role.

It is worth noting that any secondary visa holders (i.e. spouses and children) have no need to enter Australia by a certain date, or spend any period of time in Australia on the visa. This means they can remain offshore for any period of time if you need to come to Australia to work while they finish schooling etc.

Once I enter Australia as a TSS visa holder, how long do I have before I have to start work?

You must start your nominated role within 90 days of entering Australia.

What should I do if I get a new passport?

You should update your passport details with Immigration as soon as you can, so that when the visa is granted, it is granted against the correct passport details. If your visa is attached to your old passport details, you might have some problems traveling!

Passport details can be updated online via your ImmiAccount both before and after the grant of the visa. However, you can also use Form 929 to update your details manually.

What if I have changed my contact details?

Again, you should update your passport details with Immigration as soon as you can. If Immigration contacts you regarding your application while it is being processed, they may give you a strict deadline to respond. They will rarely follow up and might refuse your application if they do not hear from you.

Your contact details can be updated online via your ImmiAccount both before and after the grant of the visa. However, you can also use Form 929 to update your details manually.

For TSS Visa Holders

Who can I work for on the TSS or 457 visa?

If your Sponsor is an Australian business, you can work for the Sponsor directly or an ‘associated’ entity of the Sponsor. For instance, you might be employed by the parent company but move around between different subsidiaries.

If your Sponsor is an overseas business, you must only work directly for the overseas company/Sponsor. That is, you can’t work for an associated entity of an overseas business.

Can I do volunteer work outside of my TSS or 457 Visa?

This is not completely out of the question, but it would be within fairly limited parameters.

If the work is associated with your nominated role (i.e. your Sponsor has a charity program) the volunteer work should not be a problem. Likewise, if you are genuinely volunteering a couple of hours a week for a registered charity, this should be okay. However, if the work you are doing would normally attract remuneration, this would be seen as employment and therefore a breach of visa conditions.

Can I change my employer while on a TSS or 457 visa?

If you have been already granted a TSS or 457 visa and you want to change your employer, you are not required to apply for a new visa, provided you will be working in the same occupation. However, before you start working for a new employer, you must be Nominated by them. The new employer has to be an approved Sponsor (or apply to become one), and the Nomination has to be approved before you change employer.

If you start working for your new employer before the new Nomination is approved, you will be in breach of your visa and your visa can be cancelled.

The approval of a new Nomination only allows you to change your employer. It does not extend the length of your TSS or 457 visa and does not change the conditions on your visa.

More information regarding the Nomination process can be found on in our TSS Nomination Guide.

Can I change my occupation while on a TSS or 457 visa?

The condition that is applied to your TSS and 457 visa means you must work in the nominated occupation.

If you want to change your role, or your employer wants you to change your role, new Nomination AND Visa applications need to be approved before you proceed.

What if I cease employment with my Sponsor while on a TSS visa?

If you cease employment with your Sponsor, you have the following options:

  • 1
    Depart Australia within 60 days;
  • 2
    Find a new Sponsor and lodge a nomination to change your employer within 60 days;
  • 3
    Lodge an alternative visa application (such as a Partner visa). However, it is important to note the conditions on your TSS visa will remain in place until the new visa is granted, or in some cases, until your existing visa expires and a Bridging Visa takes effect.

When you cease employment, your Sponsor is obligated to notify Immigration within 28 days. This will trigger the cancelation section of Immigration to monitor you to see if you depart or lodge a new Nomination. If you do not, your visa will be subject to cancellation.

I am a TSS (or 457) visa holder already – can I add a family member to my visa?

A family member can be added to your TSS or 457 visa by making a separate visa application. This is known as 'subsequent entrant' application.

I have had a baby in Australia as a TSS (or 457) holder – what visa do they hold?

Your baby will be deemed to hold a TSS or 457 visa, however there is an administrative process to make sure the visa details are in the Immigration system.

You should contact Immigration about the process. You will need to provide them with a copy of the baby’s passport and birth certificate, and health requirements may need to be met.

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