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TSMIT

New Permanent Residence Pathway for New Zealand Citizens from 1 July 2017

Residence Requirement

The new pathway is only available to NZ citizens who started living in Australia on or before 19 February 2016. You will need to show that you were usually resident at this time. If you were in Australia for a short visit for a holiday or business would not suffice. On the other hand, if you were temporarily outside Australia on 19 February but were usually resident before this, you may well be eligible.

You will need to show that you have been usually resident in Australia for a continuous period of at least 5 years prior to applying. This continuous period of residence would need to have started on or before 19 February 2016. Showing that you are usually resident would normally involve 2 factors:

  • Physical presence in Australia; and
  • An intention to reside in Australia

Short visits outside Australia (eg holidays) would be acceptable, providing there is an intention to reside in Australia and you spend a significant amount of time in Australia. If you take up a job or permanent home outside Australia, this could affect your ability to show continuous usual residence in Australia.

You would need to have held a Special Category Visa (SCV Subclass 444) for the 5 years - this is the visa NZ citizens are usually granted on entry to Australia.

Income Requirement

You would need to provide ATO Notices of Assessment showing that you have earned annual taxable income at least equivalent to TSMIT (Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold) for the last 5 financial years.

The TSMIT has been $53,900 since 1 July 2013, but was $51,000 from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.

Limited exemptions to the income requirement will apply - those currently announced include:

  • Maternity, paternity or carers leave - application of this exemption is discretionary; or
  • Inability to depart Australia due having been assigned primary care of a child by the Family Court of Australia and the child cannot be removed from Australia; or
  • Currently receiving compensation for injury and ongoing rehabilitation or compensation would be discontinued if departing Australia

Age Requirement

Unlike other skilled visas, there is no age limit for the NZ stream of the 189 visa. The age limit for the subclass 189 visa will otherwise reduce to 45 from 1 July 2017, and will be reducing to 45 for permanent employer sponsored visas by March 2018 so this is a significant advantage for older applicants.

Including Family Members

Even if they are not NZ citizens, spouses and dependent children can be included in the application. If applying onshore, they must hold a substantive visa or Bridging A, B or C visa.

Health and Character Requirement

All family members included in the application must meet health and character requirements.

The waivable health criterion 4007 applies - this means that if you have a health condition which involves significant cost or use of scarce medical or community services, you can still be granted permanent residence provided the cost is not undue. For instance, if you have significant assets or solid health insurance, and can prove that you can meet your own medical costs, you may still be successful in your application.

Most other permanent visas require family unit members to complete health and character, whether they are included in the application or not. This is not the case for the new application pathway - only family members included in the application need to complete health and character.

Application Fees

Application fees are in line with current fees for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa. However, only 20% of the application fee needs to be paid at lodgement. The balance of fees would only be payable once you have met all other criteria and are likely to be granted the visa.

Fees payable are below:

Main Applicant
At Lodgement $720
Prior to grant $2,880
Total $3,600

Dependants 18 or over
At Lodgement $360
Prior to grant $1,440
Total $1,800

Dependants under 18
At Lodgement $180
Prior to grant $720
Total $900

Unlike other permanent skilled visa types, there is no English Language Charge for applicants with less than Functional English.

Conclusion

For NZ citizens who were living in Australia on or before 19 February 2016, the new permanent residence pathway is extremely beneficial. In particular:

  • There is no English language testing, skills assessment, points test, or sponsorship by an employer
  • There is no age limit
  • The income level is relatively moderate - and exemptions apply for people on parenting or carer leave
  • There is a health waiver for applicants and family members with health conditions
  • The bulk of the application fee is only payable once the requirements have been assessed and the visa is about to be granted

New Zealand Citizens who meet the criteria should consider applying for the new pathway as it offers very favourable access to permanent resident status. Given the current political climate, the opportunity may only be available for a limited time.

Changes to Employer Nominated Permanent Residence (Subclass 186 visa)

In addition to the 457 changes recently and unexpectedly announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the Permanent Employer Sponsored Skilled Migration Program will also undergo a number of changes. The 457 visa has historically been a pathway to Australian Permanent Residence under this program. 

From 19 April 2017

  • Applicants under the Direct Entry Stream will only be eligible to apply if their nominated occupation is on the MLTSSL or STSOL

  • Applicants under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream can still apply as usual (even if their nominated occupation is no longer on the STSOL or MLTSSL)

From 1 July 2017

  • Occupation lists: The STSOL and MLTSSL will be further reviewed based on advice from the Department of Employment and Department of Education and Training

  • English language requirements: A score of IELTS 6 in each component will be required (or equivalent test)

  • Age: Applicants under the Direct Entry Stream must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application. The maximum age requirement of 50 at the time of application will continue to apply to applicants under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream

From March 2018

  • Salary: Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), currently $53,900 excluding superannuation

  • Residency: The eligibility period under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream will be extended from 2 years to 3 years

  • Work experience: At least 2 years of post- qualification relevant work experience will be required

  • Age: All applicants (under both the Temporary Residence Transition Stream and Direct Entry Stream) must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application

  • Training requirement: Strengthened training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers

Who is affected? 

It is expected that further details and clarifications to be announced by the Government over the coming weeks. 

Individuals who were preparing an application under the Direct Entry Stream and their occupation has now been removed - No longer eligible under the Direct Entry Stream

Individuals turning 45 years old - From 1 July 2017, applicants under the Direct Entry Stream must be under 45 years at time of application. From March 2018, all applicants must be under 45 years at time of application.

Individuals who were preparing applications under the Temporary Residence Transition Stream - Minimal impact if lodged before March 2018 (although new English language requirement applies from 1 July 2017).

Please contact Nevett Ford immigration lawyers to discuss your individual circumstances by telephone + 61 3 9614 7111.

Changes to the Subclass 457 Visa program

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS visa)

The Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa will be replaced with the completely new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

Occupation lists

The occupation lists that underpin the 457 visa have been significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted.

The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) is renamed as 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) is renamed as Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).

Validity period

The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be two (2) years with an optional two-year extension allowed only once.
Occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four (4) years.

Residency

The two-year short-term visa program will offer no prospect of permanent residency. The four-year medium-term visa holders will be able to apply for permanent residency if certain preconditions are met.

English Requirements

The four-year visas will require a higher standard of English language skills; a minimum of IELTS 5 (or equivalent test) in each test component. English language exemption salary threshold, which exempted applicants whose salary was 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. Training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers will be strengthened. Please ensure that your clients keep meeting this obligation (training benchmark A or B) as this is expected to be more carefully monitored.

Character

Provision of penal (police) clearance certificates will become mandatory.

Work Experience

Two-years work experience will be required for both visas.

Other documentation

In the majority of cases, mandatory Labour Market Testing (LMT) will be required, unless an international obligation applies. Employers must pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) requirements. A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers.

Application fees

$1150 AUD for two-year visa and $2400 AUD for four-year visas apply

Applications already lodged:

457 visa applicants that had lodged their application on or before 18 April 2017 with an occupation that has been removed from the STSOL, and whose application has not yet been decided, may be eligible for a refund of their visa application fee. Nominating businesses for these applications may also be eligible for a refund of related fees.

Please contact us for further clarity about how the changes may affect sponsorship, nomination and visa applications.