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

Last Updated: 3 July 2017
Article by Jackson Taylor

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.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
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”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions