As of November 25, 2023, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs is moving forward with key updates to the country’s permanent residency pathway for temporary skilled workers. Under the changes, announced earlier this year, all subclass 482 visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency. Previously, subclass 482 visa holders in short-term occupations were unable to seek permanent residency. The changes also allow short-term subclass 482 visa holders to renew their visas indefinitely, and reduce the required employment period before seeking permanent residency from three years to two. The new policies are designed to provide more equitable access to permanent residency in Australia.

Background: The Subclass 482 Visa

The Subclass 482 visa is a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa designed to allow employers to sponsor a suitably skilled foreign worker to fill a position for which a qualified Australian candidate cannot be found. The subclass 482 visa features several “streams,” including the short- and mid-term streams as well as the labor agreement stream, each of which allows the foreign national to live and work in Australia for a specified period of time. Previously, only subclass 482 visa holders in the mid-term and labor agreement streams were eligible for permanent residency.

Expanded Pathways to Permanent Residence

Under the new rules, all subclass 482 visa holders – including those in short-term occupations – are eligible to seek permanent residency through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa. Applicants will need to continue to work in the occupation nominated for their TSS visas, but occupations will not be limited to the government’s Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).

The updates also lower the eligibility threshold for the TRT stream from three years’ to two years’ employment with the sponsoring employer. Applicants must meet all other nomination and visa requirements for the TRT stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme visa. Changes to the TRT stream nomination requirements are intended to apply to new Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme nomination applications as well as applications that are yet to be finally determined as of November 25, 2023.

To facilitate the new permanent residency policy, the government has removed limits on the number of short-term stream TSS visa applications that visa holders can make in Australia. The move is intended as an interim measure to assist those currently in Australia who would normally need to go offshore to make further visa applications. The change applies to new TSS visa applications made on or after November 25, 2023.

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