Recent Changes to Australian Citizenship
As announced by Prime Minister Turnbull on 20th April 2017, the following have already come into effect on the day of the announcement, you may already notice the following new laws if you attempt to apply online.
- Migrants who become permanent residents will also have to wait four years before they can apply for citizenship — instead of the at least one-year wait at the moment.
- A more stringent English language test will also be introduced, which will include "reading, writing and listening" components.
- If an applicant fails the test three times they will have to wait another two years before they can sit it again.
The Coalition will have to pass the changes through Parliament but if they do, those who apply for citizenship from today will be subject to the new rules.
Recent Changes to the existing 457 Visa
From 19th April 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- Occupation lists: The occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa will be significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted.
- Of the 435 occupations, access to 24 occupations has been restricted to regional Australia (e.g. occupations relating to farming and agriculture).
- The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) will also be renamed as the new Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment.
- The other occupations list used for skilled migration, the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will contain occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy and aligning to the Government’s longer term training and workforce strategies.
- A separate fact sheet about the occupation lists’ changes will be issued.
- Validity period: The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two years. Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years.
From 1st July 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- Occupation lists: The STSOL will be further reviewed based on advice from the Department of Employment. The MLTSSL will be revised based on outcomes from the Department of Education and Training’s 2017-18 SOL review
- English language requirements: English language salary exemption threshold, which exempts applicants whose salary is over $96,400 from the English language requirement, will be removed.
- Training benchmarks: Policy settings about the training benchmark requirement will be made clearer in legislative instruments.
- Character: Provision of penal clearance certificates will become mandatory.
Before 31st December 2017, for the existing 457 visa:
- The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) will commence the collection of Tax File Numbers for 457 visa holders (and other employer sponsored migrants), and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary
- The Department will commence the publication of details relating to sponsors sanctioned for failing to meet their obligations under the Migration Regulation 1994 and related legislation.
From March 2018, the 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with the TSS visa.
New TSS Visa and New Permanent Residence (PR) Pathway
The TSS Visa will have a Short-Term stream (up to 2 years) and Medium-Term stream (up to 4 years). The Short-Term stream will allow occupations from the
STSOL list and require IELTS or equivalent test score of 5, with a minimum of 4.5 in each test component.
The Medium-Term Stream will allow occupations from the
list and require a minimum IELTS (or equivalent) test score of 5 in each test component.
New Permanent Residence Pathway:
- Capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the Medium-Term stream
- Permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years