Virginia, US
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| Rupert Timms

Attention 457 visa professionals!

Two particular professional occupations now mandatorily need a successful skills assessment both before a 457 visa can be renewed, and before a first 457 visa can be granted. Sometimes, a skills assessment will even be required to transfer an existing 457 visa to a new employer.  

Is your occupation one of these? Which two occupations?

The two occupations are the occupations of “Specialist Mangers not elsewhere classified” (ANZSCO 139999) and “Project or Program Administrators” (ANZSCO 511112).  

When does this apply? 

If you are applying for a new 457 visa in either of these two occupations because your current 457 is expiring soon, you will need this skills assessment. Or, if you are applying for your first 457 visa in either of these two occupations, you will also need this skills assessment (unless that is, you are transferring into Australia from a related company overseas on an intracompany transfer).  

This will sometimes also apply, but at the Immigration Department’s discretion, when you are just moving companies and transferring your existing 457 visa over to a new employer though a new nomination.  

Surely I don’t need one, as I already hold a 457 visa?

Yes, you most certainly will, unless you can show “extremely exceptional circumstances”.  It does not matter how many years you have already been working in this occupation, or how many 457 visas you have held.

Why is this now required? 

In the past, these two more general 457 visa occupations have been used as ‘occupations of last resort’ by many employers when they have been unable to find a suitable other 457 visa occupation for their nominee.   The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has imposed this skills assessment requirement as an integrity measure to try to ensure these two occupational classifications are not being used inappropriately.

How will this impact me? 

Firstly, and no matter how experienced or senior you are, it is very possible that you may fail the skills assessment application.  These skills assessments are conducted by a vocational education and training (VET) provider called VETASSESS, which has very particular and stringent requirements for a successful skills assessment.  Of course, if you fail the skills assessment, your 457 visa application or nomination would also fail.  

Also, the skills assessment process can potentially add a further five (5) to seven (7) months processing time to your 457 visa application. This is because of current VETASSESS processing backlogs, and also because of the time it takes for applicants to prepare their skills assessment application.  

Are you and your employer prepared for such delays, or even for the possibility of refusal?

What should I do?  

You should raise this issue with your employer, and you should consider seeking professional immigration advice.  With careful forward assessment and some important forward planning, there may well be a way through all this.  

As part of this careful forward assessment, the VETASSESS skills assessment criteria should be examined. Can you meet all their criteria?  Equally importantly, are you also able to provide all the required supporting evidence?  

Alternatively, can you perhaps apply right now or soon for permanent residence in one of these occupations without needing any skills assessment at all?  

It may also be possible for you to apply for a 457 visa in a different occupation instead which does not need any skills assessment. (Beware however that changing 457 occupations may sometimes delay or even destroy your future permanent residence options.)

However, these options can sometimes require skilled advice and assistance for a successful outcome. 

Professional assistance   

In summary, raise this right now with your employer, and be prepared through forward thinking and forward planning right now. 

If you or your employer would like my skilled professional assistance, please contact me on +61 3 9613 9313 or by email at rtimms@fragomen.com