Top 8 changes to the Australian visa system in 2018 you should know about if you want to live and work in Australia

If you want to live and work in Australia, and depending on your circumstances, you should know about these changes.

Workers
There is a new work visa in town.  It’s called the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482). For anyone over 30, who wants to live and work in Australia for between 2-4 years, the TSS visa is the most likely option.  I say over 30, because if you are under 30, the Working Holiday visa might be an option you should look into (unless you’re ineligible or already used it).

The TSS visa replaces the 457 work visa which had been around for years. But the TSS visa is not a given by any means even if you think you are the right candidate for the job. In fact, eligibility for this visa is very complicated. You have to be suitably qualified but your hiring employer also needs to jump through a few challenging obstacles as well.

The application for a TSS visa is best navigated with the help of a professional immigration advisor.

Employers
Yes, employers are also affected. They still have to worry about labour market testing the Australian jobs they want to hire foreigners to fill, that requirement hasn’t changed.

They now have to satisfy a new requirement called the SAF levy or Skilling Australian Funds levy. Boiled down, its a tax on employers who want to hire foreign workers. How much they pay, depends on how much they make in yearly turnover. If a prospective employer has a turnover of $10 million or less, they pay $1200 per year of the visa. If the employer is sponsoring a foreign worker for a permanent visa like the Employer Nominated Scheme, the cost would be A$3000.

So when you think about your options to live and work in Australia, be aware of what an employer will have to do to get you that work visa.

Foreign partners of Australians
This year, the Australian partner visa application fee was increased again and now stands at a lofty, $7,160. The rise and rise of the Partner visa application fees have occurred over a number of years. Let’s see how long it will take to break the $8,000. If you are one of those foreign-born applicants who is unlucky enough to fall in love (joking!) with an Australian person, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. According to DHA migration statistics, 47, 825 were granted between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017. As of 30 June 2017, there are a whopping 71, 523 applications in the processing pipeline.

Skilled Migrants
The Australian upped the ante and increased the minimum pass mark for the General Skilled Migration points test to 65. It has been 60 for a number of years and this year, applicants who want to apply for a skilled migration visa will have to find 5 additional points to qualify. Not easy, considering, they also reduced the age limit from 50 to 45. It seems even if you are a qualified and experienced skilled professional it will still be very difficult to qualify for a migrant visa.  In addition, no longer can partners of skilled migrants claim bonus spouse points if they are over 45. Previously, a partner who was between 45 and 50 could earn spouse points.

Tech professionals
The Global Talent Visa Scheme is a peace offering scheme offered by the Australian government to the tech industry. Given the controversy surrounding the closure of the 457 work visa. Tech employers can recruit highly skilled professionals from overseas so long as they can prove they have a good record of hiring and training Australians.

Business Visa Application Fees
Speaking of expensive application fees, well this fee increase takes first prize. Anyone interested and eligible to apply for a Business Innovation Investment Visa will have to cough up a whopping $8,770 in application fees to the Australian government. Previously, the fee was $8,580 before it was increased last July.

Australian Citizenship
The previous Turnball government failed to convince Parliament that the eligibility requirements for applying for Australian citizenship should be overhauled. They wanted to introduce an English test, increase the permanent residency to 4 years rather than 2, and make applicants swear an Oath of Allegiance to Australia. Well the craziness has passed but it is a possibility that the Bill to make these changes might be introduced into Parliament again. Given the recent leadership tussle, with Malcolm Turnball being ousted and the new Prime Minister, Scott Morrisson perhaps it won’t be a priority for now. However Peter Dutton remains the head honcho of the Department of Home Affairs, and he was the main push behind changing the Australian citizenship eligibility requirements.  In any case, there is likely to be fierce opposition again to the changes by the Independents, immigration industry represents and the general migrant public.

Parents
Temporary Parent Visa soon could be an option for Australian citizens, permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens in Australia who want their parent(s) based overseas to join them in Australia.

This visa has not started yet. Firstly it needs to be approved by the Australian parliament before it can come into effect.

The DHA websites states, that up to 2 parents can be sponsored, the visa period can be for 3 years or 5 years. Application fees will be either be $5,000 or $10,000 depending on which visa period you select. Presumably, it will be per parent which will make it quite expensive for most migrants living in Australia and want to reunite with their parents.

The visa must be sponsored by a child of the parent(s), the sponsoring child would have to meet financial and residency requirements. When this visa will come into effect is unknown, we’ll just have to watch this space.

Have a question about your Australian visa application or how you can live and work in Australia, send me a message and we can discuss further.

For more information, visit the Department of Home Affairs.