Australian TSS Visa or Temporary Skills Shortage Visa Explained [Sri Lankan TV’s Interview with Ariel Brott]

Our Principal Lawyer recently appeared on Sri Lankan TV, where he was interviewed about visitor visas, skilled visas, business (188 and 888) visas and employer-sponsored visas including the new subclass 482 TSS visa.

This is the second part of a 3-part interview series. You can check out the rest here:

Watch the full interview here.

Bandu: Back to Me and My Business, with Ariel Brott from Global Mobility Immigration Lawyers in Melbourne. So Ariel, we talked about one form of immigration before. Now, let’s go on to the business visas side. Like, there’s quite a lot of people who want to come here on what we used to call work visas. Now in order to provide, if it is a company here, to invite someone for a work visa, for two years or three years, what are the requirements from this end, this local entity here has to provide the immigration department?

Ariel: Sure, okay. It sounds like you’re talking about the employer-sponsored visas.

Bandu: That’s right.

Ariel: And that’s quite a hot topic at the moment because there have been some huge changes since April of last year and even bigger changes happening this coming March. So the most popular and common form of the employer sponsored visa is called the 457 visa. You’ve heard of the 457?

Bandu: Yes, yes.

Ariel: Well, that’s going to be history in another month. They’re going to get rid of it. They’re going to replace it with another visa. We don’t yet know what the sub-class number will be. But it’s going to be called the TSS visa, the temporary skills shortage visa. And it will operate in a similar fashion. So what will happen is there will be a company that needs to be approved as a sponsor.

Then you’ll need to make a second application to nominate a position that’s required within the business. And then the third and final application is actually the visa application for the candidate in question.

Bandu: It’s a three-step process.

Ariel: A three-step process. But once you’ve done that first step, then any subsequent employees, you just have to do those two other steps. So the sponsorship approval I think it will be lasting about five years under the new regime.

They’re still settling some of these things. So I’ll talk about generally the things that need to be done. And every business will be different. And every person will be different. And certain things will change over time as well. But in order to get a sponsorship in place, typically you’ll need to show that the business has a commitment to training Australians.

So again it’s very political space, they don’t want to see businesses are just getting people from overseas and not looking at people from the local market. They want to see people actually looking for Australians and training people to fill positions. So people need to show that.

And I believe what will be happening as of March is they’ll be bringing in a Skilling Australians Fund, where to get your nomination in place, you’ll need to make a contribution. I think it’s $1,200 a year for smaller businesses, $1,800 a year for bigger businesses for the period of the sponsorship.

Bandu: That contribution to what?

Ariel: There will be a fund set up. And I believe it’s called the Skilling Australians Fund, and  -you know it’s a good question, where exactly does that money go? It will go into a big bank vault in the sky and I assume that it will be directed to training Australians in some capacity. So that’s sort of step one.

They’ll have to see the financials of the business. Can this business actually support sponsoring people? Because there are minimum salary thresholds and so on. So the government wants to know that if this is some small struggling business, well, are they going to be able to comply with their obligations as a sponsor.

They’ll also take a look at the history of the business to see if the directors have ever done anything too naughty, have they got into trouble for labour laws or immigration laws or other related matters. And of course they’ll want to see that they’re legally operating.

Bandu: Does that mean that they’ll have to have a history of spending a certain amount of training local people?

Ariel: Historically, that’s how it’s worked. It’s unclear they’ll still need to show that same history or if it will just come down to this cash contribution that it’s moving towards. But certainly in the past, that’s how it worked. You could show what you’ve done in the past. But one way or another, you’ll have to spend money on training. So that’s the sponsorship, in very brief.

The nomination phase is, if you nominate a particular occupation, now this is one of the things that’s really changing in a big way. There is a list of eligible occupations. They’ve really gone to work performing surgery on that list. They’ve removed a lot of occupations.

Another thing that has happened is, they’ve shifted a huge amount of those occupations into what they term sort of the short term list. And the short term list doesn’t have the same benefits and opportunities as the medium or long term list.

The chief difference is between these two different lists, even though both of them are eligible for the 457 or TSS visa, if you’re on the short term list, you can only get a two year visa, rather than a four year visa. And you can only renew that visa once onshore, I believe, for another two years. So you’re looking at a maximum of four years.

And then you’re expected to go back offshore, and then you could try to apply again from offshore and it remains to be seen how difficult that would be.

Bandu: So that means after four years or whatever, they can’t automatically apply for a permanent residency here.

Ariel: That’s the second point. So if you’re on the short term list, there is no mechanism to transition or even to apply directly for permanent residency as was the case previously.

It’s only that small number of occupations on the medium, long term list, where you, apart from being able to get a four year visa, and renew that indefinitely, you also have that opportunity then after three years, it used to be two years, but as of now it’s three years, before you can then transition into permanent residency through another application, or potentially you could apply directly under certain circumstances before the three years.

And that’s going to be a big problem for a lot of people. And I think ultimately from an economic point of view, it could be a problem for Australia, because there are a lot of very highly skilled people in Sri Lanka and elsewhere who would like to come, but they’ll like to have some sort of pathway to eventually settle down here, rather than just come here for a [UNCLEAR 20:27] and then head back. So that’s part of the nomination.

And again they look at genuineness and so on. They want to make sure it’s a real job. They’ll take a look at the salary, the terms and conditions of employment.

They’ll want to see that you’re not getting paid any less than an equivalent Australian would be paid. Again, this comes back to some of the political and union objections to this. And fair enough, they don’t want the local labour being undercut. And they don’t want the foreign workers exploited.

But that, in a nutshell, is how the nomination works. And then finally you have the visa application. And the visa application looks at the actual person applying for the visa, wanting to come to Australia.

It takes a look at their qualifications. It takes a look at their experience. It takes a look at their English level and that varies between those three lists I spoke about as well.

Bandu: So for that visa application, that English level is mandatory?

Ariel: That’s right. If you’re coming from Sri Lanka, yes. Some people are exempt. Particularly certain passport holders, or it may be if you are from Sri Lanka but you were schooled in a school where the language of instruction was English, you may find ways around it as well. But typically, people are going to have to sit English tests.

There are various English tests which are available. Some are easier than others. And if you’re on the short term list, the English requirement is actually a little bit lower. So I don’t know if you’re familiar for example with the IELTS test.

It’s just one of the tests, but for the short term list, it’s going to continue with what it currently is, which is an IELTS score of 5 overall, with no one of the four components being less than 4.5. For the medium and long term list, which is the list that’s preferable, you need to have 5 but no less than 5 in all four of those components.