Australia’s new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Regulations

Australia’s new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Regulations

Australia's new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Regulations

Australia’s new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Regulations

TSS Visa Update: Employer’s Guide to New Regulations

The Department of Immigration (Australia) officially concluded the subclass 457 visa program and replaced it with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482).

The TSS visa will feature a Short and Medium to the Long-term program, with applicants to both streams needing to satisfy additional new criteria, including:

Increased English language requirements.    

Short-term applicants will require an International Language Testing score of 5 overall—or an equivalent—with a minimum score of 4.5 in each component.

Medium-term stream applicants will need a score of 5 overall, with a minimum score of 5 in each component.

Two year’s work experience relevant to the position that is being applied for.

The work experience obligation must also be met in addition to any ANZSCO requirements that the applicant is subject to.

Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement.

Applicants will be required to meet the “Genuine Temporary Entrant” requirement to demonstrate that they intend to undertake temporary work and not maintain a continuing residency in Australia.

Additional character checks, health checks and police clearances.

Applicants will be required to provide police clearance certificates where appropriate, as well as meeting the visa’s health criteria.

Employers will no longer be able to meet the health criteria by way of a health undertaking.

Employers will also be subject to new mandatory labour market testing, as well as new requirements pertaining to non-discriminatory workforce testing and minimum salary requirements.

The Department has indicated that exemptions will be made in instances where certain international trade obligations apply, with transitional arrangement also to be made available for some current 457 visa holders.

Other changes have also been made to the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186), and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa (subclass 187).

Sponsorship Charges and Market Testing Requirements

The fee structure for the sponsorship of TSS visa workers has currently been set to the following:

Standard Business Sponsorship.

$420

TSS Nomination.

$330

TSS Visa Short-Term Stream.

$1150

TSS Visa Medium-Term Stream.

$2400

Labour Market Testing will now be a mandatory requirement for all TSS visa applications going forward.

This means that any nomination that was lodged with the Department on or after March 18 and before June 18 will be required to meet the labour market testing obligations that were applicable during the 12-month period immediately preceding the nomination’s lodgement.

All nominations that are made on or after June 18 will need to meet this requirement within the six-month period prior to its lodgement.

Workforce Testing and International Trade Exemptions

Businesses wishing to sponsor temporary migrant workers will now also be subjected to mandatory non-discriminatory workforce testing to ensure that local workers are not being passed over in favour of foreign nationals.

The testing will not be conducted on all TSS visa applicants, however the Department has said that further testing can be expected for companies with a workforce makeup that does not conform to the industry standard.

International trade obligations may provide businesses with some exemptions from the new TSS visa requirements if the nominated employee is from a World Trade Organisation (WTO) member country, or a country with whom Australia has an international treaty obligation.

The government is also expected to introduce the new Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) tax in the near future, although the legislation surrounding the levy has yet to officially finalised in Parliament.

The current Training Benchmark obligations will continue to apply to existing sponsors until further notice. However, new sponsors will be not be required to demonstrate compliance with the existing training benchmarks until the new levy is officially introduced.

Changes to Transitional Arrangements and the ENS and RSMS Program

The government has also introduced a series of new regulations which have mandated changes to the ENS (subclass 186) and RSMS (subclass 187) visa program.

Visa applicants to the ENS or RSMS program will now be required to satisfy the following revised criteria:

Minimum Salary Requirements.

Employers will be required to pay the annual market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT).

Age Limit

Applicants must now be below the maximum age of 45 at the time of their application, as opposed to the previous maximum age of 50.

Previous Work Experience

Prospective visa applicants must demonstrate that they have completed at least three years of work experience relevant to the role that they are applying for.

This requirement applies in addition to the ANZSCO work experience requirement for the nominated occupation.

Occupation List

The nominee’s occupation must be on the Medium to Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), unless the business is in a regional area.

The RSMS List will remain unchanged at this stage, with possible amendments to be introduced in July 2018 upon completion of stakeholder consultation.

Residency Period

Migrant workers who are part of the Temporary Residence Transition stream will now become eligible for permanent residency after three years rather than two.

Foreign nationals who were part of the 457-visa program—or who had a 457 application pending on or before April 18, 2017—may also be eligible for certain transitional arrangements leading to permanent residency under the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

Any visa holders who transition from a 457 to a TSS visa will be automatically eligible to apply for the TSS program onshore with a limit of two application to be made from within Australia.

If 457 holders wish to transfer their employment to a new sponsor then they have the option of doing so by lodging a TSS visa nomination, although if this requires a change in occupation then it will necessitate the lodgement of a new TSS application.

Posted in Australia, Immigration, Visa and Immigration, Work Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Popular international student stream closed within an hour of opening

Ontario’s Masters Graduate Stream opened briefly to new applications from international graduates on April 5.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) announced the opening in an update published on the morning of April 5. The stream then closed less than an hour later.

The Masters Graduate Stream is one of two immigration programs offered under the OINP’s International Student Category. The other stream is open to PhD graduates who have completed a degree from an eligible Ontario academic institution.

This is a rare occasion where the OINP has opened the Masters Graduate Stream independent of the Ph.D. Graduate Stream.

An interesting feature of the Masters Graduate Stream is that no job offer is required to apply. This stream is designed to help retain international graduates who studied in the province.

Intake limits through this first-come, first-served stream are often reached quickly. Ontario did not reveal how many applications it is accepting in this intake period.

The Masters Graduate Stream has already opened once in 2018, on January 29, and reached its intake limit within hours of opening.

The OINP said it expects to reopen the Masters Graduate Stream periodically this year until Ontario’s 2018 provincial nomination allocation is fulfilled.

Ontario is expected nominate 6,600 people through its various immigration streams this year. The province is a popular study destination for international students, particularly students looking to pursue higher education.

A provincial nomination issued by to Masters Graduate Stream applicants is considered a ‘base’ provincial nomination certificate. With a provincial nomination certificate, applicants may be in the position to submit an application for permanent residence to the federal government.

A base stream is not aligned with the federal Express Entry system but provides interested individuals a pathway to Canadian permanent residence.

The OINP recommends that applicants review the program application guides before applying in case of criteria changes following the coming into effect of the Ontario Immigration Act on January 1, 2018.

Eligibility requirements

Must intend to live and work in Ontario.

Must have graduated from an existing Master’s program at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario.

The program of study must have been at least one year in length and must have been completed on a full-time basis.

Must submit the application within two years of the date on which the Masters degree was granted.

Must have legal status (i.e. study permit, work permit, visitor record) if living in Ontario at the time of the application:

Applicants may be living outside Canada at the time of application; however, individuals living in Canada but outside Ontario are ineligible to apply.

Candidates do not need to have legal status in Canada if they are applying from outside Canada.

Must demonstrate an adequate intermediate proficiency level in English or French of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or above in all four competencies (speaking, reading, writing, and listening).

Must be able to show a minimum level of savings and/or income in order to support themselves and their dependents.

Must show that they have resided in Ontario for at least 12 cumulative months in the 24 months before submitting an application.

Posted in Canada, Canada PNP, Immigration, Ontario, Study Abroad, Visa and Immigration, Work Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overview of the Express Entry First Quarter of 2018

Express Entry Quarterly Review: 2018 off to a strong start

Overview of the Express Entry First Quarter of 2018

Overview of the Express Entry First Quarter of 2018

The First quarter of 2018 started with a record low CRS cut-off and ended with the second draw in less than two weeks

Canada’s Express Entry system started the first quarter of 2018 on a high note and ended it on one, too, raising expectations for an exciting spring to come.

Express Entry shot out of the starting blocks on January 10 with a record low Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score for a first draw of the year. That minimum score of 446 was 22 points lower than the first draw of 2017 — a year that eventually saw the CRS cut-off drop to a record low of 413 in May.

The next three draws of 2018 continued this record low start, with minimum cut-off scores of 444, 442 and 442, respectively, compared to the cut-off scores of 459, 453 and 447 for the second, third and fourth draws of 2017.

The quarter ended on a good foot with a rare Monday draw on March 26 that saw the cut-off CRS score drop 10 points to 446 over the previous round of invitations on March 14, when the CRS cut-off jumped to 456 after a three-week gap between draws.

This 10-point reduction between these draws was a good reminder of what can happen to the CRS cut-off when draws are held at least once every two weeks, or in this case 12 days. Less time between draws means less time for the Express Entry pool to replenish, which can help push the CRS minimum score down. The three-week gap between the draws on February 21 and March 14 also showed what happens when the reverse is true and more time is allowed to elapse between draws, the effect, in this case, being a 14-point increase in the CRS minimum.

In terms of CRS score fluctuation, the CRS cut-off score ranged only 14 points, from a low of 442 in draws held on February 7 and 21, to the high of 456 on March 14. The average CRS cut-off score for the quarter was 446, which was also the minimum score for both its first and last draws on January 10 and March 26.

In terms of Invitations to Apply (ITAs), more than half of the quarter’s invitations rounds (four of six) issued 3,000 ITAs each. This was an increase of 250 over the 2,750 ITAs issued in each of the first two draws of 2018. A total of 17,500 ITAs were issued over the course of all six draws, compared to the 20,883 ITAs issued during the first six draws of 2017.

Despite this difference, Canada has a higher target for admissions in 2018 / 2019 under the three economic immigration classes administered through the Express Entry system — for 2018, the annual target is 74,900 compared to 2017’s annual target of 71,700 for the three programs managed by the Express Entry system.

It remains to be seen how the Government of Canada will meet this target. It could mean larger draws or more frequent draws, or some other approach.

What we do know is that April 2017 proved to be one of the Express Entry system’s busiest months with three draws and a total of 11,341 ITAs issued. It also saw the CRS minimum cut-off score drop to 415. Overall, the second quarter of 2017 was the busiest of the year, with nine draws, a total of 26,653 ITAs issued, and the lowest CRS cut-off recorded to date — 413 on May 31.

Express Entry-linked Provincial Nominee Programs

The first quarter of 2018 also saw significant activity in a number of Express Entry-linked Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), many of which introduced important innovations to the way they operate.

A particularly busy and innovative was Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities (HCP) Stream, which held seven invitation rounds over the first three months of 2018 and issued a total of 2,587 Notifications of Interest were issued to apply for a provincial nomination to Express Entry candidates.

The HCP Stream allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool for candidates with a Comprehensive Ranking System score of at least 400 points, among other criteria. An Express Entry candidate with a provincial nomination receives an additional 600 points toward their CRS score.

Ontario introduced a number of welcome improvements to the way the HCP Stream operates in the first three months of 2018, including a new level of detail regarding its invitation rounds.

Among details that Ontario now provides is the range of Comprehensive Ranking System scores among selected candidates, as well as the date range that shows when Express Entry candidates selected in each draw entered their profiles into the Express Entry pool.

The Human Capital Priorities Stream finished the first quarter of 2018 with two specialized draws on March 26 that targeted Express Entry candidates with CRS scores as low as 351 who had either a job offer in Ontario or French language skills of CLB 7 or above.

These “Targeted Notifications of Interest” were another example of Ontario’s innovative use of the Human Capital Priorities Stream to surgically select Express Entry candidates with specific skill sets — regardless of their CRS score.

Express Entry-linked PNPs in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Canada’s Atlantic Provinces were also active in the first quarter of 2018.

Posted in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Canada, Canada PNP, Express Entry, Immigration, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Visa and Immigration, Work Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment