With the pandemic seemingly behind us and Australia’s borders finally open again, now is no better time to come ‘down under’


With its booming economy and ever-growing business market, Australia has new projects and professional opportunities emerging by the day.

But equally prone to change are the laws around employment and migration – a major obstacle for local employers and foreign job seekers or employees.


Skilled Migration Occupation Lists

Numerous occupations on the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and Medium-Long Term Skilled Occupation List (MLTSOL) are flagged for change or removal.

These lists provide the approved occupations for which foreign employees can be sponsored to work in Australia.


Priority Migration Occupation Lists

In response to COVID 19, the government has created a list of priority occupations. This list changes regularly as Australia recovers from the pandemic. Employer-sponsored nominations and visa applications for these jobs will be given priority processing.


Global Talent Employer-Sponsored Program (GTES)

The Department of Home Affairs will continue with its Global Talent program, formerly known as the Global Talent Scheme. The Global Talent (GTES) program allows Australian businesses and startups to employ the best and brightest foreign talent.

There are two streams within the scheme: Established Business stream, and Startup stream.

The Established Business stream is for employers who are accredited sponsors to employ workers that provide innovative skills that make Australia businesses and employees better at what they do. The Australian Government especially favours high-tech skills and talent in high-demand industries. 

The Startup stream applies to those within the tech and STEM fields.  As the country continues to focus on economic growth and innovation, foreign talent will be brought in to transfer skills to Australian workers and grow Australian-based businesses.


Skilled Work Visas

The TSS (Temporary Skill Shortage, subclass 482) visa was introduced on 18 March 2018. The TSS (482) is the most common temporary business visa for skilled foreign nationals. It allows the visa holder to live in Australia temporarily, work full time and bring family members to Australia if they are in a nominated position. However, the TSS is complex, costly and employment conditions need to be met.

It should also be noted that Priority Occupations will take precedence when processing applications.


Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Visa

There are two visas, subclass 417 and subclass 462. They are known as the Working holiday visa and Work and Holiday visa, respectively. 

If you held a ‘COVID-19 affected WHM visa’; from 5 March 2022, eligible current and former WHMs in Australia can apply for a WHM visa with nil VAC (Visa Application Charge). This is in place until 31 December 2022

From 8 May 2021, WHM visa holders working within the tourism and hospitality sectors will be allowed to work with the same employer for up to 12 months, without requesting permission. 

As of 8 May 2021, the tourism and hospitality sector has been added to the list of critical sectors, in response to COVID-19. 

From 1 July 2022, there will be a 30% cap increase for the number of places available for working holiday makers over the 2022-2023 program year.

Commencing 1 July 2022, Italian and Danish citizens will have their eligibility increased by 5 years; from 30 to 35 years of age. This is in addition to Canadian, French, and Irish nationals who also are eligible to apply up to 35 years of age. 

Additionally, there will be an increase of 1,400 places visa caps for Hungary, Austria, and the Slovak Republic.

A number of new Work and Holiday Maker (WHM) programs were established with:

– Switzerland: 200 places (260 places for 2022-2023)

– Mongolia: 100 places

– Brazil: 500 places


Changes To Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

From 1 July 2022, existing TSS visa holders within the short-term stream will be able to apply for permanent residency through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) scheme of Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa. 

To be eligible:

– Must have been physically in Australia between 1 February 2020 to 14 December 2021 for at least one year

– Worked on the TSS visa for at least 3 years before applying

– Must meet all other visa and nomination requirements


TSS Subclass 482

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Subclass 482 (Short-term stream) Third Short-Term Eligibility.

For eligible former TSS visa holders, who worked in Australia during the pandemic will be able to apply for a third short-term stream TSS visa in Australia. 

To be eligible:

– Must have held a TSS (short-stream) visa and been in Australia between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 for at least one year

– Must have not held more than two short-term TSS visas

– Meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the TSS (short-stream) visa

To apply, TSS applicants must be holding a substantive or bridging (A,B or C) visa at the time of application.

Note that the third TSS visa will only be accessible for one year from 1 July 2022.


Looking to Hire Using the TSS Visa?

In short, here’s what you should consider:

  1. Your Business Entity:
    • Determine whether your Australian or overseas entity will sponsor the employee.
  2. Skills and Qualifications:
    • Clearly define the skills and qualifications required for the visa. Ensure they align with the TSS visa requirements.
  3. Occupation:
    • Identify the occupation of your employee. It should be on the relevant skilled occupation list for the TSS visa.
  4. Possibility of Permanent Residency:
    • Explore the potential for obtaining permanent residency for your employee through the TSS visa program.
  5. Processing Times:
    • Be aware of the processing times for TSS visa applications. Plan your hiring process accordingly.
  6. Employer-of-Record Solution:


Changes to Legacy Temporary Work (Skilled)

This change applies to subclass 457 visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement. The exemption only applies to 457 visa holders who:

– Were in Australia between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 for at least one year

– Held the subclass 457 visa since on or after 18 April 2017

– Meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the TRT stream of ENS visa 

The age exemption will be available for two years from 1 July 2022.


Temporary Graduate Visas

From 1 July 2022, for current and former temporary graduate visa holders who were impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions can apply for a replacement visa. 

The following requirements must be met:

– Have held or previously held a valid temporary graduate visa that has expired on or after 1 February 2020

– Have been outside of Australia between 1 February 2020 and 15 December 2021


Subclass 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme visa)

Let’s skilled workers, who are nominated by their employer, live and work in Australia permanently. There are three streams available to the visa; the Temporary Residence Transition stream, Direct Entry stream, and the Labour Agreement stream.  


Alternative Visa Options

For shorter secondments to Australia, employers may also consider the Temporary Work Visa – subclass 400 visa.

The ‘400’ or Temporary Work / Short Stay Specialist visa is highly specialised, as the name suggests. It is also strictly short-term; not for ongoing work. The visa is usually valid for 3 months. Only if you present a very strong business case may it be extended to 6 months.


Regional Work Visas & Pathway to PR

As of November 2019, 2 new regional work visa types have come into effect – the subclass 491 and 494. These are known as the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional, for people sponsored by an employer in regional Australia, and the Skilled Work Regional, for people who are nominated by a state or territory government or sponsored by an eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia.

From 16 November 2022, the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) will be launched for people who have worked on either of the two visas above for 3 years or more.

The conditions for Permanent Residency will also be updated. These 3 visas will have over 700 occupations, priority processing, up to 5 years’ validity and a pathway to PR. 


With continuous and sometimes unforeseen updates, migration, employment, and tax legislation in Australia can give employers a hard time. In order to remain compliant and also explore the opportunities that arise for you and your business, be sure to watch this space!

Kristopher Kunasingam portrait

About the Author:

Kristopher Kunasingam is a Partner and Head of Migration at Hall & Wilcox, Melbourne. For two consecutive years (2021 & 2022), Kristopher has been awarded Leading Immigration Lawyers - Victoria by Doyles Guide. He advises on all facets of migration to Australia, particularly employment-related migration.
Read more about Kristopher Kunasingam.