Round-up of the major changes in migration legislation in 2017

Find out what has really changed and how Australian employers have been affected.



Another year is coming to an end, and there were a lot of changes to Migration Legislation for Australia in 2017.


– Reduction of the Maximum Age for some visas:

The maximum age for Skilled Permanent Visas, as well as for Employer Nominated Permanent Visas has been reduced from 50 years to 45 years.

If you have employees applying for a Subclass 186 (ENS) Employer Nominated Permanent Visa or a Subclass 187 RSMS via the Direct Entry Stream, they will have to be aged under 45 years.

If your employees want to apply for the visas above via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRT) however, they will be able to apply if they are aged under 50, as long as they had a 457 visa on the 18th April, or had applied for one and had a pending application at that date.



– Changes to the Subclass 457 Sponsorship Visa

On the 18th April, the Prime Minister announced major changes to the 457 Visa Program and the shockwaves are still being felt now, eight months down the road.

The big bulk of the changes will come into effect on the 1st March 2018 though.


Summing up the changes as much as possible, they were:

  • 216 Occupations were completely removed from the Employer Migration Program on the 19th April. Occupations such as Medical Administrator, Sports Administrator, Travel Agency Manager, Human Resource Adviser, Market Research Analyst, Legal Executive and Intellectual Property Lawyer were all removed.
  • Some occupations were removed in April only to be put back on the program in July – maybe the government saw the damage this would cause and changed their minds? Or was it pressure from certain Industries? Some occupations that returned to the program were Chemical Engineers, Electronic Engineers, Industrial Engineers, Research and Development Managers and Stonemasons.
  • In April the government cancelled the CSOL, the list of occupations used in the whole Employer Migration Program. They have replaced it with the STSOL and the MLTSSL – the Short Term and the Medium and Long-Term occupation lists.
  • Subclass 457 Sponsorship Visas continue to be granted to applicants whose occupations appear in either list, but those with occupations on the STSOL (the short term list) only get visas valid for 2 years only. Occupations on the MLTSSL, the medium to long term list, allow for the grant of 4 year-duration 457 visas.
  • The government also introduced caveats (restrictions) to many of the occupations that stayed on the lists. These restrictions can be about:
    • The Minimum Salary on offer: instead of the $53,900.00 minimum salary some occupations such as Marketing Specialist, Customer Service Manager and Technical Sales Representative require a minimum salary offer of $65,000.00 – and some occupations such as General Manager require now a salary package offer of $180.000,00;
    • The sponsoring company itself: some occupations such as Corporate Service Managers and Accountants can only be sponsored if the company has a minimum annual turnover of 1 million dollars;
    • In other cases the company needs to employ a minimum number of employees to be approved, such as it is in the case of Recruitment Consultant and Transport Company Manager;
    • Some occupations must require at least 2 years of work experience, for example, Graphic Designers and University Lecturers;
    • Other occupations can still be sponsored, but only if the position is based in a regional area, such as Wine Maker and Sports Centre Manager;
    • Some occupations have very detailed restrictions about the nature of the position and the job description.
  • The biggest change of all – all these smaller changes are part of the government’s decision to completely abolish the 457 Sponsorship Visa.
    • It will require work experience – at the moment if your employee has only the right qualification to perform the job you are offering, they can get a 457 Visa without having work experience in the field;
    • It will require higher levels of English (according to the Prime Minister);
    • It will require Labour Market Testing – when the employer is required to show evidence that they tried to hire an Australian, before offering the job to an overseas worker and post job ads and show evidence that;
    • It will not necessarily lead to a permanent employer visa.
  • Changes to Permanent Employer Visas
  • Changes proposed to Citizenship Requirements
    • The current requirement to reside in Australia is 4 years while holding any visas, being that at least for one year you must hold a permanent visa. The government proposed to change that to 4 years residing in Australia with a permanent visa;
    • Requirement to have “Competent” English.


On the 18 of April, the Prime Minister announced via a video posted on his Facebook Page, that he was abolishing the whole program.


He will be abolishing the 457 from the 1st March 2018, but he will be replacing it with another temporary visa for workers to fill the demand for overseas skilled labour.


That visa will be called the TSS (Temporary Skill Shortage Visa) and will work in pretty much the same way as the 457 but with certain differences:


The change that will cause the biggest impact, in our opinion, is the fact that from 1st March 2018 fewer people will be eligible for PR after a 457 or TSS visa.


At the moment workers can apply for the ENS 186 and the RSMS 187 visas normally, via the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (the TRT) or the Direct Entry Stream in some cases.


From March 2018 onwards, however, people holding the future TSS visa and people holding 457 visas granted after 19 April this year, whose occupations are on the STSOL, will NOT have access to a permanent employer nomination visa ENS 186 or RSMS 187 via Temporary Transition anymore.


Only those whose occupations are on the MLTSSL will have that option. These people are lucky but, they will have to wait three years after getting a 457 or a TSS to be able to apply for a permanent employer visa, instead of the 2 years that are required now. This is part of the new rules coming into effect for the Permanent Employer Visas.


The Direct Entry option will be limited as well, as the Department said they would apply the MLTSSL to this stream from March onwards.


There have also been some proposed changes, which never actually happened.


In April, the Australian Government proposed changes to Citizenship Requirements, which were later in the year opposed by the Labor Party.


Finally, in October, the Senate rejected all the changes and they did NOT become law.


The 2 major changes proposed were:

At the moment applicants for Australian Citizenship need only to demonstrate “Basic Knowledge” of English. The proposed changes would require applicants to have “Competent” English.


But these changes didn’t go ahead, but, something very important: the government already said they will try to bring about those changes again in 2018 around July.




These are in our opinion the biggest and most important changes in migration legislation we saw in 2017. It’s our edit to you, to help you make sense of all of them.


Be ready because 2018 will bring about more changes, but we will be here ready to inform you with facts, in a straightforward manner.


Please contact us on if you want to discuss visa options for your employees and your business eligibility to sponsor you.


We take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2018!!!