Answering the SOS with RSMS
As the dust slowly begins to settle from the announcement that the Subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa will be abolished in March 2018; there is still significant uncertainty regarding the future of Employer Sponsored Migration and what the extent to which the new TSS Visa will be different from the 457 Visa. During the current transition phase the saying “the advice we give today may no longer apply tomorrow” has almost become a catchphrase as we continue to walk the fine line between keeping a client optimistic about their future Permanent Residence prospects and the harsh reality that they may lose their pathway before they can secure such an outcome.
In this climate of uncertainty, there remains one beacon of hope: The Regional Sponsored Migration Stream (RSMS). In the short time since the announcement on 18 April 2017, a notable trend has already begun to emerge; with increasing numbers of temporary residents departing for regional areas, unwilling to gamble their future on hopes of change and increased occupational eligibility in metropolitan areas.
What is the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme?
RSMS, otherwise known as a Subclass 187 Visa, is an Employer Sponsored Permanent Residence Visa eligible to those working in any area within Australia which is classified as regional. The Visa Holder is granted Permanent Residence, and in return they must live and work for their regional employer for a minimum of two years from the date the visa is granted.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) uses postcodes to determine whether a special town or locality is eligible for RSMS. In New South Wales, all areas outside of Sydney, Wollongong, and Newcastle are classified as a regional area. Tasmania, South Australia, and the Northern Territory are all classified as regional areas; including their capital cities.
There are two pathways through which an individual can obtain Permanent Residence. The first pathway is through the Direct Entry Stream. If an individual can show evidence of sufficient experience in the occupation they are being sponsored to fill, as well as a certain level of English, then they can apply for RSMS immediately. If a person cannot meet the necessary English language requirements, or employment experience, they can apply for a Subclass 457 Visa and work in the role for a period of two years. After two years, the individual will be eligible to apply through the Temporary Residence Transition Stream.
The RSMS Immunity
Despite the drastic changes to the Subclass 457 Visa Program, RSMS has retained an element of immunity to most of the proposed changes; limiting the extent of the damage to non-regional areas. The Australian Government has affirmed that it will remain committed to ensuring regional employers continue to have access to the skilled workers they require; including maintaining the very broad occupation list from which they can nominate foreign workers for RSMS.
Prior to the announcement on 18 April 2017, the RSMS list already provided a significantly greater range of occupations to regional employers than that which was available to their non-regional counterparts. Following the removal of over 200 occupations from the list, and many more being made ineligible as a Permanent Residence Pathway; the Australian Government has granted a significant concession to regional employers. It should be noted that all 200 occupations removed in April 2017 still remain open to regional employers.
From the information published on the DIBP’s website, as well as statements made by the Australian Government, there is a clear intention to maintain the status quo in terms of RSMS; offering a significant degree of immunity from the major overhaul of the Subclass 457 Visa. Some changes, such as Age and English language requirements, may be imposed; however the key issue of eligible occupations will more than likely remain unchanged.
Why Offer Such Concessions?
The concessions offered to the RSMS Program is driven by the need for skilled workers in regional areas. Due to lower populations, as well as limited education and training institutions, regional areas naturally suffer from a significant shortage of skilled workers. This issue is aggravated by skilled workers to relocate to regional areas to work due to the inconvenience caused by such a move, and the lack of essential services within the regional areas. In addition to this, regional employers cannot compete with the notably higher salaries offered by non-regional employers to skilled workers; even though much of the difference can be offset by the lower cost of living in these regional areas.
Due to these adverse circumstances, regional areas have become increasingly dependent upon foreign workers to overcome the severe skills shortage experienced due to their remote locations. Almost all occupations classified as ineligible for Permanent Residence following the Subclass 457 changes remain open to RSMS. This means that individuals employed in occupations such as Cooks, Café and Restaurant Managers, Customer Service Managers, Hotel or Motel Managers, Fleet Managers, Call Centre Managers, Fitness Centre Managers, Social Workers, Bakers, Pastry Cooks, and all levels of Tradespersons are still eligible to acquire Permanent Residence through Employer Sponsored Migration.
We anticipate that in the coming months there will be a significant increase in applications through the RSMS Program, as for many this will be the only pathway available to them for Permanent Residence.
It is also interesting to note that the DIBP has announced that the concessions for regional employers will continue to remain in effect for both the temporary and permanent visas. Based on recently released information regarding the new TSS Visa; it appears that regional employers may be given the ability to choose whether they sponsor a worker for two years with no Permanent Residence option available, or for four years with a Permanent Residence option. The exact nature of the RSMS Program under the TSS Visa will slowly be revealed as we get closer to the retirement of the Subclass 457 Visa in March 2018.
Should you wish to inquire about your eligibility for the RSMS Program, please do not hesitate to make an appointment with a member of our Skilled Migration Team.
Mr. Alasdair Dougall
Registered Migration Agent