Australia is set to implement long-awaited changes to its skilled migration system which will see benefits many employers – especially regional employers.
The new rules extend the range of jobs employers can sponsor for permanent residency.
All skilled occupation lists, including the Regional Occupation List, will now have access to the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream.
This stream leads to the Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) 186 visa – a visa granting permanent residency.
The changes also apply to the TRT stream of the Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) visa (Subclass 187 visa).
This addresses a long-standing concern identified in a recent government review—the lack of clear pathways to permanent residency for temporary skilled workers.
For regional employers the changes offer a more practical way to secure long term staff for hard to fill positions.
The adjustments not only enable better planning but also provide greater certainty for both employers and employees who want to continue to work together.
The changes remove the need for employers and employees to reapply for visas offshore and the associated interruptions and costs this has on business operations.
Another important change involves a reduction in the time required for visa holders to work with the same employer before they pursue the Temporary Resident Transition (TRT) stream to permanent residency.
Until now, sponsored 482 visa holders had to work in their nominated occupation for three years with the same employer before qualifying for the Temporary Transition (TRT) stream. The impending changes will cut this qualifying period to two years, expediting the journey to permanent residency for the qualifying 482 visa holders.
Qualifying for a permanent visa under Temporary Residence Transition stream
To qualify under the Temporary Residence Transition stream now a Subclass 482 holder must:
- have worked in Australia for a specified period and
- the most recent sponsoring employer must provide a nomination, and
- commit to continue employing the person in the relevant position, on a full-time basis, for at least two years.
Background to the 482 visa changes
These changes, scheduled to take effect from 25 November 2023, stem from a comprehensive review of the migration system initiated by the government last year and released in March 2023.
The changes respond to the shortcomings of the Temporary Skill Shortage (482) visa, which, despite its appeal due to streamlined skills eligibility criteria, previously offered limited pathways to permanent residency (PR).
The situation excluded many temporary skilled workers, from agricultural technicians to supply and distribution managers to cooks, whose occupations on the Regional Occupation List or Short Term Skilled Occupation List made them ineligible for a stream that leads to a permanent residency visa.
Why these 482 visa changes matter
The comprehensive review, spearheaded by Dr. Martin Parkinson AC PSM, highlighted critical flaws in the existing migration system. It acknowledged the system’s failure to enable efficient access to workers for businesses and expressed concerns about the potential emergence of a temporary underclass.
The report emphasized the need for clarity in pathways to permanent residence, particularly for those working in Australia on employer-sponsored temporary visas.
The upcoming changes to Australia’s migration system mark a significant step toward fostering a more efficient and inclusive process for both temporary skilled workers and the employers who sponsor them.
About the author: Greg Nicolson is Managing Director of the Australian Business Migration Group. He has been a practicing registered migration agent for 14 years and is an alumni of the International Agriculture Exchange Association.