Further changes to the visa program

Further to our May 2018 update, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has provided further commentary and updates about the changes being made to the visa program which we have summarised below.

Global Talent Scheme

The Global Talent Scheme (GTS) was launched on 1 July 2018 and at this stage is meant to only run for 12 months, serving as a pilot program. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have a niche skill and occupation not covered by the Short-term or Medium-term streams under the TSS visa to qualify for the GTS.

Companies wishing to use this option must demonstrate that they have advertised for the role and were unable to locate suitable local candidates.

Sponsors must either fall under the:

  • Established Business stream, applicable to companies which are publicly listed or have an annual turnover of A$4 million each year in the last 2 or
  • Start-up stream, applicable to companies operating either in the science, technology, engineering or mathematics related fields and received an initial investment of $50,000 from an investment fund registered with the Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partner.

The aim of the GTS is to support business growth and encourage skills transfer by attracting highly-skilled global talent to foster innovative businesses in Australia. We foresee the GTS being used by businesses to sponsor skilled managers to lead and/or develop business units involved in generating innovative solutions for the rest of the business.

GTS visa holders will have the option of applying for Australian permanent residence three years after working in Australia.

Skilling Australians Fund update

DHA has indicated that the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) will likely be introduced sometime between now and September 2018. Clients are reminded that the amount payable for a TSS visa will be A$1,800 each year for businesses which have a turnover in excess of A$10 million and A$1,200 for those under A$10 million.

DHA has confirmed that businesses must not pass on the SAF costs to employees.

Refunds of the SAF will be available only if:

  • The sponsorship and visa components are approved but the employee does not arrive or commence employment
  • The sponsorship and nomination components are approved but visa refused on health or character grounds or
  • A TSS visa holder leaves the business within the first 12 months of employment. The refund would only be available for the unused full years of the paid levy.

Temporary Skill Shortage processing times

The published timeframe for 75% of Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) applications is 57 days for a short term stream, 55 days for medium stream and 28 days for a labour agreement stream application.

Priority processing continues to be afforded to accredited sponsors, positions in regional Australia and applications under the Labour Agreement stream (listed from highest to lowest order).

Subclass 457 applications continue to experience slower processing with applications taking between 6 – 12 months for case officer allocation.

Character Requirement for Accredited Sponsors

Applicants who are sponsored by accredited sponsors may be exempted from having to provide police clearance certificates from each country they have resided for more than 12 months in the last 10 years if the sponsor attests to the fact that the applicant is of good character.

DHA recognises that if negative information comes to light after the declaration is made by a sponsor, DHA will consider the broader context of the information and provide the sponsor an opportunity to comment before taking any action on its accredited status.

Sponsors are reminded that separate character references capturing the name and date of birth of each applicant will need to be provided. A single reference listing several visa applicants is not permitted.


Mark Dunphy

Mark is an employment lawyer experienced in litigious and non-litigious applications of employment and industrial relations law.

Kristopher Kunasingam

Kristopher leads the firm's migration practice. He specialises in employment-related migration to Australia.

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