TSS: 4 YEARS ON!
With the abolition of the subclass 457 visa in 2017, Australia ushered in the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa aimed at supporting businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and contained a number of significant safeguards that prioritise Australian workers.
Key reforms included:
- new, more targeted occupation lists which better align with skill needs in the Australian labour market;
- regular updates to the occupation lists through monitoring of labour market trends and feedback received via the Traffic Light Bulletin;
- a requirement for visa applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation;
- 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 being extended from two to three years;
- a non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers;
- a strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers via the Skilling Australia Fund Levy;
- the Australian Border Force now collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records;
- mandatory penal clearance certificates;
- Employers in regional Australia continue to have access to occupations under the temporary and permanent visas, to reflect their skills needs.
One and done!?
We are heading into year four of the TSS visa with many initial Short Term Stream holders now sitting on their second TSS visa wondering what next!
Many have fallen in love with the life in Australia and they are left wondering whether the last three years have any bearing on how they can secure more permanent status. Some have moved from one employer to another and have unwittingly applied for another TSS visa under an occupation appearing on the STSOL, which means the next renewal can only occur when they are outside of Australia.
Prior to COVID-19 that may have been possible but with the current travel restrictions in place, there is a genuine risk that many TSS visa holders under the STSOL will be in a predicament where they are being forced to depart Australia.
This is a concern on a number of levels.
Aligning your occupation
Naturally, many TSS visa holders are now questioning whether they can move to the Medium Term stream.
As business evolves so too does the workforce.
Many occupations are rapidly changing, and the classification of occupations can be subjective. For instance, many of our clients in the ICT sector may be considered for an ICT occupation or a management occupation. This can be critical to the options for the visa duration and options for permanent residence.
Whilst the legal requirement is to, the extent possible, match the role to an occupation on the relevant Skilled List which substantially aligns, there can be differing views and methodologies used.
More to the point, it is now critical to closely work with the business unit and candidate to ensure a clear understanding of the nominated occupation and the likely options for renewal and permanent residence. Changeover midway through a visa is possible, however, this is generally reserved for situations where there is a clear overlap in duties or when a promotion occurs.
This has been most common with the occupation of management consultant in ICT roles.
Traffic Light Bulletin
One of the key takeaways from the introduction of the TSS visa was an opportunity for stakeholder feedback via the Traffic Light Bulletin.
Much like the rest of our industry, we have been an active participant on behalf of our clients in voicing the concerns around the current Skilled Occupations Lists. This may include validating the occupations in the MLTSSL as well as advancing data around the relisting of occupations.
For meaningful stakeholder feedback, we are now seeking greater transparency in the labour market data and considerations.
Global Talent Visa
That said, a solution that the immigration department has been heavily promoting is the Global Talent Independent visa. When we were initially introduced to this scheme, it was uncertain how the distinguished talent visa could be utilised to ‘migrate’ skilled professionals.
Whilst the legislative requirements remain unchanged, it appears there has been a softening of certain requirements (such as how to evidence an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in a profession) provided that the key criteria are met.
Specifically, applicants would have to be capable of attracting a salary of at least the Fair Work High Income Threshold (currently at $153,600.00) and be talented in and have no difficulty in obtaining employment, or becoming established independently in Australia in one of the following industries:
- 🪐Space & manufacturing
- 🔥Energy & mining
- ⛓Cyber Security
- 🤖Quantum information, advanced digital, data science and ICT
To support the recovery of Australia’s economy, there has been an expansion of the key sectors which also includes:
- ♻Circular Economy
Further, MedTech have also expanded to Health Industries, FinTech now includes Financial Services, and Quantum information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and ICT now grouped into DigiTech.
Whilst the program continues to require an invitation via the Skill Select model, we have observed a relatively proactive approach by the Australian Government with many receiving invitations on the basis of salary and sector alone.