Reforms to Australia’s temporary sponsored skilled migration programme:

In a surprise move, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the Federal Government is abolishing the subclass 457 visa. This visa subclass shall be replaced with a new visa subclass, the ‘Temporary Skilled Visa’ (TSS) in March 2018. Changes are due to be made to the visa eligibility criteria for skilled migrants, including the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) being renamed the ‘Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List’ (MLTSSL)-this list will consist of occupations that have been assessed as being of ‘high value’ to the Australian economy and those that align with the Government’s long term training and workforce strategies. The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) is being replaced by the ‘Short Term Skilled Occupation List’ (STSOL). The STSOL will also be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment.

What is changing?

On the 19th  of April 2017, The Department of Immigration and Border Protection began removing occupations from the CSOL occupation list. 216 occupations were removed, with the current list now containing 435 occupations from the previous 631. 59 occupations now also have a ‘caveat’ on their use, restricting their availability to migrants.

Understanding the caveats

Caveats are included as a ‘note’ in the relevant legislative instrument for certain occupations to limit their use in the context of the subclass 457 programme.
Such caveats aim to ensure that the subclass 457 programme is focused on filling ‘skilled’ vacancies, with less risk of workers being hired to complete semi-skilled or low-skilled tasks at the expense of the Australian workforce.
There are three main groups of caveated occupations which are discussed:
–    Group A: caveats relating to work experience only
–    Group B: caveats relating to regional location
–    Group C: occupation specific caveats
Group C includes occupation specific caveats, where popular professions such as Accountant’s, Bakers, Café and Restaurant Managers, Chefs and Customer Service Managers will be highly scrutinized.


These measures will tighten Australia’s employer sponsored skilled migration programmes to ensure they better meet Australia’s skills needs and increase the quality and economic contribution of skilled migrants. The Government is changing the eligibility requirements for some permanent skilled visas to better align the permanent and temporary programmes. These measures will sharpen the focus of Australia’s skilled migration programmes to ensure they better meet Australia’s skills needs, increase the quality and economic contribution of skilled migrants and address the public concerns about the displacement of Australian workers.

Who is affected?

Current 457 visa applicants and holders, prospective applicants, businesses sponsoring skilled migrants and industry. Existing 457 visas will continue to remain in effect.

457 visa applicants that had lodged their application on or before 18th April 2017, and whose application had not yet been decided, with an occupation that has been removed from the STSOL, may be eligible for a refund of their visa application fee. Nominating businesses for these applications may also be eligible for a refund of related fees.

While the changes mainly impact the ENS and RSMS, existing and prospective applications for the Skilled Nominated (subclass 190) visa, the Skilled Independent (subclass 189), and the Skilled Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa will also be effected by some changes to the occupations lists. The changes to the occupations lists for skilled migration will reduce the number of occupations accessible under these visas.

AIMS consists of a team of expert migration agents and solicitors who provide professional assistance to people who intend to migrate to Australia or Australian residents and citizens who wish to bring their family here. Whether you are seeking to study, work or establish a business in Australia, we can advise you on your options and assist you in securing the right visa.  For more information or to set up a consultation with one of our agents, give AIMS a call on 03-9078 6819 or email us at