TSS visa enables employers to address labor shortages by hiring skilled workers where they cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian. It facilitates employment of foreign workers to address temporary skill shortages, while ensuring that Australian workers get priority. TSS visa holders can work in Australia in their nominated occupation and may have a pathway to permanent residency.
The Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa (TSS visa) came into effect in March 2018, replacing the Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa. It is intended to help meet skills shortages in the Australian labor market while ensuring protection of local jobs, wages and conditions. Visa holders can stay in Australia up to 2–5 years, as long as they continue to work for their employer. There is no cap on the number of visas which can be granted in any year.
The TSS 482 visa involves a three-step process:
Step 1: a sponsorship application by the employer (the employer needs to be a lawful, active, operating business and meet local labor and employment practices).
Step 2: The second part of the application process is the nomination application. This is regarding the position to be filled, salary details, efforts to hire Australian workers and the ‘genuineness’ of the position. The business must also be viable to sponsor from overseas.
Step 3: a visa application by the nominated employee. The visa applicant must demonstrate that they meet the skills required for their occupation as well as health and character requirements.
- Employer requirements
Employers must meet a range of requirements before they are able to sponsor migrant workers.
Employers must be approved as a standard business sponsor, which requires paying a fee, demonstrating they are running a legally established and operating business, and having ‘a strong record of, or a demonstrated commitment to, employing local labor’. To maintain their status, employers must continue to meet sponsorship obligations.
Employers must undertake labor market testing to demonstrate they cannot find an Australian resident to do the work. Labor market testing generally requires advertising the position for at least 4 weeks within the 4-month period immediately prior to lodging the nomination application (part of the visa application process). Employers must pay the employee at least the annual market salary rate and above the Temporary Income Skilled Migration Threshold (TSMIT, set at $53,900).
- The Skilling Australians Fund levy
Employers sponsoring a visa applicant must pay the Skilling Australians Fund levy. The fund aims to ensure that businesses that sponsor migrant workers are also benefiting Australian workers. The levy must be paid for each worker (see the Department of Home Affairs webpage on costs of sponsoring for further details). The fund supports projects to provide training opportunities including apprenticeships and traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships, and other employment-related training opportunities.
- The Skilled Occupation List
The vacancy the employer wishes to fill must be for an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List. The list specifies occupations for eligibility for a range of skilled visas (permanent and temporary, including the TSS), and is aimed at identifying occupations where there are skills gaps in the Australian labor market which would be appropriate to fill using skilled migration.
The combined Skilled Occupation List is made up of 3 main lists: the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), and the Regional Occupation List (ROL). There is also currently a Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), introduced as a temporary measure in September 2020 in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic to facilitate the entry of workers in critical sectors.
Applicants for the Short-term stream of the TSS visa must have an occupation on either the STSOL or the PMSOL. Applicants for the Medium-term stream must have an occupation on either the MLTSSL or the PMSOL. The lists do not apply to applicants for the Labour Agreement stream, but applicants must meet the requirements to be sponsored by an employer with a labor agreement in place.
- Skills Assessments and Work Experience Requirements
Currently, a specified list of occupation and country of passport pairing are required to provide skills assessments for the TSS visa application. The list required to do skills assessments is mainly for trade related occupations plus for the occupation of program and project coordinator. When the skills assessments are made compulsory (due to holding a specified passport when applying for a specific occupation), applicants will need to make sure they have enough time to complete the skills assessments before visa application is lodged, otherwise different options may need to be considered.
There is a new work experience requirement for the TSS 482 visa.
- TSS visa applicants will now need to demonstrate 2 years of relevant work experience before they can apply.
This is a major change from the previous 457 visa requirements. Many international graduates may not have the 2 years of full-time and relevant work experience to apply for the TSS visa. This has been a major barrier to international graduates in Australia being able to seek employer sponsorship.
- Employment conditions and entitlements
Employers of TSS visa holders must ensure that the terms and conditions of employment are no less favorable than those they provide to Australian citizens or permanent residents performing equivalent work in their workplace. This includes minimum wages, hours of work and leave entitlements.