Australia: 1 July changes to Temporary Work 457 and Employer Nomination Scheme visas

Last Updated: 3 July 2017
Article by Jackson Taylor
Most Popular Article in Australia, July 2017

Critical changes and take-away for employers and visa holders

The Department of Immigration have created almost as much hype and tension as the season premiere of Game of Thrones in the lead up to the 1 July changes to the 457 visa laws. And the action has not disappointed. Numerous changes were introduced, including creation of separate occupation lists for different visa subclasses, occupations being added and removed from lists, changes to the Training Benchmark system, and removal of some exemptions. Throw in some retrospective legislation and the Department has gone a long way towards delivering all the drama and suspense of the blockbuster television series.

The Changes

Many of the changes made 1 July are intended to lessen the impact of the rushed April 2017 amendments, such as restoring a pathway to permanent residency for high value skill occupations or ensuring that international trade obligations are appropriately recognised.

The changes should be welcomed however several outstanding issues remain, including the Department's continued implementation of changes with retrospective effect and the lack of a pathway to permanent residency for the majority of 457 visa holders.

Temporary Work Subclass 457 visa

The 457 visa has been the main focus of the recent changes and the largest number of changes apply to this subclass.

Amendment to the occupation lists

Changes to the 457 STSOL and MLTSSL will apply to lodged but undecided applications.

Occupations were added to the MLTSSL: CEO, lecturer, CIO, economist, petroleum engineer, food technologist, geophysicist, life scientist, horse trainer, etc.

Further occupations were added to the STSOL: aeroplane pilot, helicopter pilot, ICT support technicians, web developer, etc.

12 occupations were removed entirely.

Refined caveats & regulatory amendment to ensure legality of caveats

Caveats have been refined and clarified. Caveats are grouped into work experience requirements, regional, and occupation specific. More information here.

Additional regulations were introduced to ensure that the Minister has the power to create caveats.

Changes to English exemptions

The English language exemption for applicants earning $96,400 AU per annum has been removed for applications made after 1 July 2017.

A new exemption has been introduced for employees of overseas businesses, working for the overseas or an associated entity, who will receive $96,400 or more.

Minor amendments to the 2 and 4 year visa validity

Applicants whose occupation appears on the STSOL will be eligible for a 2 year visa only. Where the applicants' occupation is on the MLTSSL the visa will be granted for 4 years.

Where the occupation is on the STSOL but international trade obligations apply (such as WTO, FTA, etc.) then the visa will be granted for 4 years.

Mandatory police clearances

Police clearances will be required for all applicants aged 17 or over. Clearances are required from each country the applicant has been resident in for a period of 12 months or more (cumulatively) over the past 10 years or since turning 16.

Expanded Skills Assessments

Addition of new countries to the existing Trades Recognition Australia 457 Skills Assessment program for trade occupations.

Stricter Training Benchmarks

Training Benchmarks A and B have been tightened. The range of authorised training funds have been reduced and acceptable training has been limited in part by removing eligibility of training to principals and limiting internal training.

Expanded criteria for Accreditation

An expanded range of criteria will enable a larger number of sponsors to obtain Accreditation. Categories include 'low volume' users with more than 90% local workforce, high volume users with at least 75% local workforce, government agencies, and businesses operating as 'trusted traders' under the Customs program.

Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 visa

These changes made to the ENS 186 visa will impact applicants for permanent residency from 1 July 2017 and in some cases applications made prior to the date.

Occupation lists

Separate MLTSSL and STSOL lists have been established for the 186 visa. Occupations on the 186 STSOL will continue to qualify for access to the 186 visa. It is expected the STSOL will be removed in March 2018.

Changes to the occupation lists will not apply to already lodged applications.


Caveats will now apply to 186 applications lodged from 1 July.

No further nominations

New regulations will prevent lodgement of a second nomination where the first 186 nomination was refused. This approach had been used to 'rectify' a lodged 186 or 187 application where the nomination was refused and the visa application charges would be lost if a new nomination was not lodged and approved.


New refund provisions will apply to 186 and 187 visas to enable DIBP to refund visa application charges where an application is made incorrectly or a nomination is refused due to circumstances beyond the control of the visa applicant.

Age reduction for Direct Entry (DE) stream

For 186 and 187 DE stream visa applicants must be under 45 at the time of application.

A reduction of the age criterion to 45 for the 186 and 187 Temporary Resident Transition stream is expected for March 2018.

Age exemptions for 186 and 187 Direct Entry and Temporary Resident Transition (TRT) streams

Exemptions to the age limitation for both streams have been retained including:

-Researchers, scientists and technical specialists nominated by Australian scientific agencies
-Academics employed at Academic Level B, C, D, or E as a University Lecturer or Faculty Head
-Medical Practitioners who have been employed for at least 4 years with 2 years in a regional area

Exemptions to the DE age limit:

- For New Zealand citizens who have been working in the nominated occupation for the nominated employer for two in the past 3 years.

Exemptions to the TRT age limit:

- For 457 visa holders who have been employed for at least 4 years and whose income was above the Fair Work High Income Threshold in each year.

Increase in English requirement for TRT

English language requirement will increase to a minimum band score of 6.0 in the IELTS test or equivalent.

English exemptions for DE Stream high income earners removed

Previously applicants who received base remuneration of $180,00 English were not required to demonstrate English language ability. This exemption has been removed and applies to applicants who have a lodged but undecided application. The effect is that this change will operate retrospectively. Applicants may qualify for a refund in some circumstances.

Skills Exemptions for DE Stream high income earners removed

Previously applicants who received base remuneration of $180,001 per annum were exempt from providing a skills assessment as part of the application process. This exemption has been removed and applies to applicants who have a lodged but undecided application. The effect is that this change will operate retrospectively. Applicants may qualify for a refund in some circumstances

Introduction of 'Genuine Need' requirement for 186 TRT

Sponsors will be required to demonstrate a 'genuine need' for the skilled position nominated under the 186 TRT pathway. This will include an assessment of whether the position is aligned with the nature and scope of the business.

Training Subclass 407 visa

New Occupation List

Separate STSOL and MLTSSL have been released for the 407 visa.


The changes, while carrying through the early commitments of the government, have to some extent softened the impact of the April changes. Reforms to the occupation lists improve obvious oversights in the April lists, such as the inclusion of scientists, engineers, and C-Suite occupations to the MLTSSL. However, the changes retain the inherent uncertainty of relying on 'dynamic' skills lists. This uncertainty will remain, at least until DIBP clarify what protections existing visa holders will have to apply for permanent residency post March 2018.

The post 1 July framework also raises broader concerns about the removal of permanent residency pathway for occupations on the STSOL and how this will impact employers' recruitment and retention policies. The lack of pathway to permanent residency for 50-60% of 457 visa holders also raises broader issues related to multiculturalism and the creation of a 'guest worker' system, particularly in lower skilled and trades occupations.

Another aspect of the changes that will prove challenging for businesses to manage is delays in processing related to police clearances. Businesses will need to plan applications in advance to minimise delays.

The Department has still not finalised its approach on how to integrate international trade obligations into the new framework and further updates in this area are expected shortly.

The tightening of the Training Benchmark is unlikely to be welcomed as it significantly reduces acceptable training, however will only remain in place until March 2018.

Broader criteria for access to Accredited Sponsorship are unlikely to be attractive to most employers who have not already sought accreditation. The utility for low risk, low volume users of the program to complete the accreditation program is likely to limited.

The changes to the permanent residency 186 and 187 visas are as expected with the unfortunate exception of skill and English changes applying to applicants who applied pre-1 July. This retrospective change is to some degree offset by new refund provisions, however, some applicants may now be without further options for permanent residency due to the reduction in the maximum age.


The 1 July changes remove some of the overreach of the April changes. There are, however, serious concerns about the impact of the removal of a permanent residency pathway and how it will impact employers, prospective 457 visa applicants, and current 457 visa holders. Recruitment and retention will be impacted and employers will need to review their approach to recruiting overseas talent.

The retention of several exemptions for access to permanent residency is welcome but it is of concern that the government continues to introduce regulations that operate in a retrospective manner, which harm existing applicants, in some cases with limited options for legal redress.

It is hoped that the Department will adopt greater transparency in determining which occupations are retained on the skills lists and enable employers and industry bodies to make submissions on which occupations need to be added to the Medium and Long Term Skill Shortage list in future. It is also worth advocating that the Department announce changes in advance of future changes to ensure that existing visa holders' rights and access to permanency are protected.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Jackson Taylor
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.