Changes to Skilled Occupations List Flagged

webster By Mark Webster
Thursday, 24 November 2016

There have been news reports recently about occupations possibly being removed from the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) and Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL).

If these changes go ahead, this could result in a significant impact for many visa applicants.

Our article goes through what we know so far, likely impacts and what you can do to ensure you maximise your eligibility if the changes do go ahead.

Skilled Occupations List

The SBS has reported that up to 52 occupations may be removed from the Skilled Occupations List.

What do we Know So Far?

Common occupations on the list of occupations for potential removal include:
  • Engineers in most specialisations
  • Accountants and Auditors
  • Chefs
  • Surveyors and Cartographers
  • Medical Laboratory Scientists
  • Various Medical Practitioner Specialisations
  • Allied health professionals - such as Radiographers, Occupational Therapists, Podiatrists, Speech Pathologists
  • Psychologists and Psychotherapists
  • Barristers and Solicitors
  • Maritime transport professionals

This article is based on the flagged occupations for removal from the SOL for 2016-17 published by the Department of Education and Training. The SOL is revised every year and a new list is published and comes into effect on the 1st of July every year.

A couple of important things to note about the potential change to the SOL:

  • Just because an occupation is flagged does not mean it will definitely be removed
  • Most of the occupations were also flagged for 2015-16, and were not removed
  • If the SOL is changed, this is likely to be from 1 July 2017

What would be the Impact of the Change?

The impact if an occupation is removed from the SOL would be as follows: These changes would not affect you if you have lodged your visa application prior to the change coming into effect.

What can I Do to Minimise the Impact?

If your occupation is on the flagged list, you would be best to ensure that you apply for skilled migration as soon as possible. This would require a skills assessment - for some occupations this can take several months, so you may wish to start work on this without delay.

If you are an engineer, for example, you may need to undertake a Competency Demonstration Report (CDR) skills assessment through Engineers Australia. This may take some time to prepare and lodge, so you would be best to get started as soon as you can.

Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List

The ABC and SBS have reported on removal of occupations from the CSOL.

What do we Know So Far?

The articles include comments from the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton. These comments relate specifically to 457 visa applications, and are as follows:
  • The Government is considering cutting the list for 457 visas
  • This is as a result of pressure from the opposition Labour party calling for restrictions on the 457 program
  • Work is underway to "condense" the list already, and the Government will look at this very soon

The occupations mentioned as the most frequently used for the 457 program are Cooks, Cafe or Restaurant Managers, Marketing Specialists, Chefs and Developer Programmers. At this stage, it is not clear which occupations may be removed.

What would be the Impact of the Change?

The above comments suggest the 457 list could be reduced in the near future. Unlike the SOL, changes to the CSOL can come into effect any time during the year.

As the 457 list is the same for the Employer Nomination Scheme Subclass 186 Visa and Occupational Trainee Stream of the Training Subclass 407 visa, if the 457 list were reduced, this may also affect these types of visas.

For 457 visas, the requirement that the occupation be on the approved list is a "time of decision" requirement. In other words, even if you have lodged your application prior to the change, you could be caught out if the occupations list changes before a decision is made on your application.

For ENS visas, the effect will depend on which stream you apply for. If you have worked for your sponsor on a 457 visa for 2 years and are applying for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, the impact should be minimal.

If you apply for the Direct Entry Stream, this would require a skills assessment in a CSOL occupation and 3 years of work experience in your occupation. If your occupation is removed before your nomination is approved, you could have difficulty meeting the requirements for the Direct Entry Stream.

What can I Do to Minimise the Impact?

If you are considering applying for a 457 visa, you should apply as soon as possible to avoid being affected by the changes.

If you are considering the Direct Entry Stream of the ENS visa, you should also look at applying soon to avoid disappointment.

If you are on a 457 visa already and looking at the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, you should not be affected by any changes to the CSOL.


At this stage, it is not yet clear when changes to the SOL or CSOL will come into effect or which occupations will be removed.

There is no need for panic, but if you are currently eligible for an ENS or Skilled Independent visa, you should look at proceeding as soon as possible to minimise your chances of being affected by any future change.

If you would like advice on your situation, please book a consultation with one of our advisors to discuss visa options and the risk of any future changes.


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