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The Australian Government has announced changes to the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) and Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) streams of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visas, with the aim of providing a simpler and clearer path to permanent residence for TSS visa holders. These changes, subject to regulatory approval, will come into effect from 25 November 2023.

Under the new regulations, there will no longer be a limit on the number of Short-term stream TSS visa applications that can be made within Australia. This change will apply to new TSS visa applications submitted on or after 25 November 2023. However, Short-term stream TSS visa holders whose visas expire before this date will need to leave Australia to apply for a third short-term stream TSS visa.

For the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) Temporary Residence Transition Stream, there will be several changes to the nomination and application requirements. Employers will be able to nominate holders of all streams of TSS visas, including Short-term and Labour Agreement streams. The requirement for nominated occupations to be assessed against a skilled migration occupation list will be removed, and instead, the nominated occupation will need to be listed in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). The nominated worker will also need to continue working in the nominated occupation for their TSS visa(s). Additionally, the period of time a TSS visa holder must hold their visa and work in their nominated position or occupation to be eligible for nomination under the TRT stream will be reduced to two out of the three years before nomination.

These changes will apply to new ENS and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme nomination applications, as well as applications that are still pending as of 25 November 2023. The changes also include updates to age exemptions for regional medical practitioner applicants and high-income earners aged 45 years and over, allowing for a two-year pathway. COVID-19 related age exemptions will be discontinued as they become unnecessary with the introduction of the two-year pathway.

These changes are part of the Australian Government’s efforts to provide more equitable access to permanent residence for all TSS visa holders. The government will continue working on reforms to the skilled visa programs based on the development of the Migration Strategy and the findings of the Review of the Migration System 2023.