The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) 187 Visa program will undergo major changes in March 2018, following similarities to that of which has been announced for the 457 visa overhaul.
Changes in requirements make it more selective and therefore tougher than ever for a candidate to obtain direct permanent residency in regional areas. The three major changes are in relation to occupations, experience requirement, and reduced age limit.
Under the current rules for Direct Entry 187 Visa, direct Permanent Residency is granted to applicants who are sponsored to work in a nominated occupation for at least 2 years for an employer in a regional postcode.
The current Regional List (RSMSOL) boasts 673 occupations. However, as of next March, 187 visa applicants will be restricted to the newly released MLTSSL, which currently has 184 occupations only. Additional occupations may also become available to support regional employers to be able to hire talents from across the globe under RSMS. With hundreds of occupations soon to be unavailable to the RSMS program, it is evident that thousands of people will no longer be eligible under regional employer nomination arrangements.
Occupation changes aside, the next major change is imposing a 3-year relevant post qualification experience requirement to the 187 visa subclass. This change will mean that from March 2018, many recent graduates will be unable to access such a pathway. The current rules (until March 2018) allow an application to be made if you have no experience, just as long as the labour market testing proves that you are the most suitable applicant.
Currently, applicants cannot be older than 49 years of age, however, as of March 2018, this will be reduced to an age limit of 45. Applicant are required to have post study work experience to apply but the age limit is reduced, which dramatically shortens the window to apply for 187 visa (as with 186 Direct Entry visa).
Additionally, sponsoring employers will need to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund from March 2018 onwards. For smaller businesses having a turnover under 10million AUD, it is a contribution of $3,000, and for all other businesses with turnover over 10million AUD, the contribution is $5,000. Although, a requirement directly for the sponsors, this too will indirectly affect potential applicants as employers might not be as willing to sponsor due to these mandatory contributions of significant financial value. Presently, sponsoring employer do not need to show that they have met the training benchmark for RSMS. The TSMIT (Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold) will also come into effect.
It is recommended that applicants willing to apply under this visa, finalise and lodge their RSMS applications without delay, remembering that there are three stages to the lodgement (RCB, Nomination, and then Visa Application). Please note that the current processing times for the 187 visa is around 14 months and that in July 2017 there will be a 1.9% increase to the application fees.