Government Surprise Change to the 457 Visas
By Abacus Visa
The Australian government dropped a bombshell yesterday by scrapping the Temporary (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457). In his announcement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull emphasised repeatedly that the dramatic move was to put ‘Australians and Australian jobs first’.
With over 95,000 people currently on 457s, the sudden announcement has understandably caused a wave of uncertainty for visa applicants, visa holders and businesses alike. Many are concerned with what the changes mean for them.
What we know so far
New Temporary Skill Shortage program
The 457 program will be replaced with a new visa program, called the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa. It will consist of two visa streams: one with a two-year limit, the other a four-year limit. The new program will come into force in March 2018.
Key changes include:
Stricter visa requirements
The new visa will have stricter requirements than the current 457 program, including:
- higher standards of English
- criminal record checks
- a two-year work experience requirement; and
- mandatory labour market testing for employers.
Stricter pathways to permanent residency
Holders of the new visas will also have a tougher time applying for permanent residency. Currently, 457 visa holders can apply for permanent residency after two years. But under the new two-year visa stream, there will be no pathway to permanent residency. Those on the four-year visa will need to wait three years before they are eligible to apply for permanent residency.
Why are these changes being made?
The 457 program has been under fire from all sides of politics for some time. We’ve written previously about the ongoing reviews into the migration program – clearly, claims that Australians have been unfairly passed over for jobs, particularly from the more conservative quarters of government, have won the day for now.
When will the changes happen?
While the new visa program won't come in until March 2018, some changes are effective as of 19 April 2017. These include significantly reducing the number of approved occupations for skilled migration. Specifically, the government has removed 216 occupations and restricted access to 59 other occupations. The full list of occupations being removed immediately can be found here.
Other changes, some still to be spelled out in detail, will be staggered over the coming months. A more comprehensive list of changes and when they will take place can be found on the DIBP website here.
Note: The above information is of a general nature and cannot substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified immigration specialist who is aware of and can take into account your individual circumstances.