According to migration experts, following the federal governments changes to skilled migration and 457 Visas, confusion is starting to reign over exactly which skilled occupations are now applicable and what the new rules mean for the architecture and design sector.

Bloomfield Tremayne & Partners (BT&P) a specialist recruitment agency servicing the architecture and interior design industries says previously the 457 Visa covered 651 occupations, however now thanks to a raft of definition changes, some of these occupations have been removed or have different requirements.  

Many of these changes will directly impact architects and draftspeople says BT&P.

Put simply, the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) has replaced the previous Skilled Occupation List (SOL), while the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) has replaced the old Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL).

Breaking it down further, previously, a 457 Visa was granted for a period of four years, however, since the changes came into effect in April 2017, applicants with an occupation on the STSOL will now only receive a two-year Visa, whilst those on the MLTSSL will receive a four-year Visa.

According to the federal immigration minister Peter Dutton, the skills lists will also be twice yearly.

“As part of its reforms to skilled migration announced in April, the Government will update the lists on a six-monthly basis to ensure the best outcomes for Australian workers and employers alike. The updated lists are based on extensive consultation with industry and advice from the Department of Employment and the Department of Education and Training,” said a press release form Dutton.

And while architects are currently not on the MLTSSL, civil engineering draftsperson and civil engineering technicians are.

BT&P says that those who are eligible for the four-year Visa can eventually qualify for permanent residency – although this too is expected to be much tougher due to the minimum salary rules and the three years of employment needed, as opposed to the previous regime of needing to be employed for two years with a sponsoring employer whilst holding the 457 Visa and then applying for permanent residency.

However, for two-year Visa holders, the news is even grimmer whereby this can now only be renewed once – and according to several immigration experts, there seems that there is no current known pathway to permanent residency for those on the two-year version.

On top of that, there will now be an additional costs as of March 2018 for employers who are considering sponsoring workers -  a compulsory contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund, payable in full at the time the worker is nominated for the two-year and four-year Visas, while the same employers will need to demonstrate and document that they are making every effort to employ Australians citizens in their businesses.

These additional costs are:

  • $1200 per year or part year for businesses with an annual turnover of less than $10 million
  • $1800 per year or part year for business with an annual turnover of over $10 million.

One bit of good news is that for those on existing 457 Visas, these changes will not apply unless they transfer the visa to a new employer.