The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) announced a number of changes to the 457 visa subclass on April the 19th that sent a shiver through anyone who is either in the process of applying or planning to apply for Australian permanent residency.
The changes announced primarily affect those who are planning to apply for visas under the 457 visa subclass scheme or those planning to apply for Australian permanent residency through the 457 visa pathway.
What is 457 visa subclass?
457 visas are employer sponsored Australian work visas. These visas allow citizens of other countries to work and live in Australia for up to four years.
The purpose of these visas is to help Australian employers find skilled labour internationally and fill the skill gap in their industries. These visas also enable Australian employers to sponsor overseas workers or temporary visa holders living in Australia.
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A number of concessions are allowed to meet the criteria of 457 visa subclass including lower English language skills, age and lack of relevant experience. These visas also provide a pathway for people where such concessions are used to apply for Australian permanent residency.
What are the new changes announced and when will they take affect?
Although various changes have been announced, many of these are not taking effect immediately. The changes listed below will affect anyone whose 457 visa application is in process or those who are planning to apply for a work visa for Australia in future.
Those who have already been granted a 457 visa will not be affected by the below changes.
- The 457 visa subclass will be abolished and renamed Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa from March, 2018 – This is a new visa name for the same work visa that will allow you to work and live in Australia.
- If your occupation is on the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) provided for the 457 visa subclass, a four year work visa will be granted.
- If your occupation is on the new short- term skilled occupations List (STSOL), a two year work visa will be granted. This visa can only be extended once for another two years.
- From 1st July, 2017, a minimum score of 5.0 in each band of IELTS is required for occupations on the STSOL.
- From March, 2018, two years of previous relevant employment is required for any work visa lodged under the TSS visa scheme.
- From March, 2018, employers must try to find Australian permanent residents/citizens to fill the required job vacancies in Australia before sponsoring overseas workers or temporary visa holders for the position.
A number of occupations have been removed from the lists provided by the Department of Immigration and Border protection (DIBP) for 457 visas. Although, most occupations that have been used for the 457 visas in the last few years including Medical professionals, Engineers, Cooks, Chefs and Restaurant managers are still on the lists.
Related: How to Avoid 457 Visa Cancellations
What is the purpose of implementing these changes?
In the last few years, people who lack English language skills and/or relevant employment experience have used the 457 visa pathway to gain permanent residency in Australia. A small number of employers have also tried to use these visas to recruit overseas workers without trying to find the required skill in Australia for various reasons.
The DIBP is trying to strengthen the criteria of 457 visas through these changes to ensure unskilled or lower skilled overseas workers do not use this as a pathway to gain permanent residency. The new laws apply to anyone who is planning to lodge for 457 visa applications and to those whose 457 visa application is in process.
The changes announced are also the effect of the current political climate in the country. The current government has been losing ground in recent opinion polls and had to implement or at least demonstrate change in immigration policies that will bring them back in favour.
These policy changes are meant to demonstrate that efforts are being made to ensure Australians are preferred for jobs.
Where to from here?
Australian Immigration policies change frequently. Most of the changes announced are not being implemented until later this year or March next year. Australia has always been and will continue to rely on skilled overseas residents to work and live in Australia. The 457 visas will never be completely abolished.
If you are planning to apply for 457 visa subclass, you will need to change your mind set about using the concessions to get the 457 visa granted. English language skills and relevant work experience will be mandatory to have the 457 visas (or TSS visas) granted in future.
Did you know?
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The book is also available on Amazon and http://www.booktopia.com.au.