The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has recently issued clarifications about professionals already on 457 visas who want to apply for permanent residency. The good news is medical doctors who held or had applied for a subclass 457 visa on or before 18 April 2017 will be able to apply for permanent residency under the Temporary Residence Transition stream. The provisions for doing so have remained largely unchanged:

  • Occupations: The eligible occupations remain the same as long as the nominee continues to work in the same position for the same employer as when the Subclass 457 visa was approved.
  • Age: The age limit will remain less than 50 years old.
  • Work experience: Work experience requirement will remain the same; that is, applicants will need to have worked for their sponsoring employers on a Subclass 457 visa for two years prior to making the application.
  • Duration and changing jobs: the visa is granted for up to 4 years and it enables the doctor to work for the sponsoring medical practice or hospital and in some circumstances, other medical practices.

The next set of reforms too, impacting those who applied or got their 457 visas on or after 19 April are largely statutory. The Skilled Occupations List (SOL), containing medical occupations, was renamed the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSS). This list contains occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy, and includes doctors.

The following table is the Medium and Long‑term Strategic Skills List.

Item     Occupation                                 ANZSCO Code

65 general practitioner 253111 MedBA
66 specialist physician (general medicine) 253311 MedBA
67 cardiologist 253312 MedBA
68 clinical haematologist 253313 MedBA
69 medical oncologist 253314 MedBA
70 endocrinologist 253315 MedBA
71 gastroenterologist 253316 MedBA
72 intensive care specialist 253317 MedBA
73 neurologist 253318 MedBA
74 paediatrician 253321 MedBA
75 renal medicine specialist 253322 MedBA
76 rheumatologist 253323 MedBA
77 thoracic medicine specialist 253324 MedBA
78 specialist physicians (nec) 253399 MedBA
79 psychiatrist 253411 MedBA
80 surgeon (general) 253511 MedBA
81 cardiothoracic surgeon 253512 MedBA
82 neurosurgeon 253513 MedBA
83 orthopaedic surgeon 253514 MedBA
84 otorhinolaryngologist 253515 MedBA
85 paediatric surgeon 253516 MedBA
86 plastic and reconstructive surgeon 253517 MedBA
87 urologist 253518 MedBA
88 vascular surgeon 253521 MedBA
89 dermatologist 253911 MedBA
90 emergency medicine specialist 253912 MedBA
91 obstetrician and gynaecologist 253913 MedBA
92 ophthalmologist 253914 MedBA
93 pathologist 253915 MedBA
94 diagnostic and interventional radiologist 253917 MedBA
95 radiation oncologist 253918 MedBA
96 medical practitioners (nec) 253999 MedBA

Changes in July added a requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or equivalent test, score of five in each component. The age requirement remains below 50 at the time of application to the Temporary Residence Transition stream.

From December the Department will collect Tax File Numbers for these visa holders, and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not paid less than their nominated salary.

The real changes, however, will happen from March2018. These include:

  • Training levy: Employers nominating a worker for an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa must pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund. The fee will be $3000 for companies with annual turnover of less than $10 million or $5000 for all others.
  • Occupation lists: Only jobs on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will be available to foreign employees in the Direct Entry stream for both the ENS and RSMS categories.
  • Salary requirements: Employers will be required to pay the Australian market salary rate and meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold ($53,900 as of 12 April 2016).
  • Residency period: The transition to permanent residents has been increased to three years instead of the current two.
  • Minimum experience: Foreign workers must prove they have at least three years of work experience relevant to the particular occupation.
  • Age limit: The age limit for applicants will be reduced from 50 years old to 45 years old at the time of application.

The big changes in 457 Visa rules impact those occupations that feature in the less favorable Short Term Skilled Occupation List. The biggest disadvantage being the visa does not provide a path to permanent residency. Doctors, however, feature in the preferred MTSSL list where they not only get four-year visa that can be renewed indefinitely but they also have the option of applying for permanent residency.

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