457 Visa Changes: What we know so far...
Yesterday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that significant changes would be made to the 457 visa in order to give “Australian workers…priority for Australian jobs”, by abolishing the current 457 visa programme and replacing it with the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa.
Prime Minister Turnbull’s aim is to restore credibility to the working visa and attract better skilled workers and see more Australian employed as opposed to cheaper foreign workers brought in under the now abolished 457 visa system.
The Prime Minister stated:
"We are putting jobs first, we are putting Australians first," Mr Turnbull said. "We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains that Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs.
"Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, so we are abolishing the 457 visa, the visa that brings temporary foreign workers into our country. We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians."
“It is important businesses still get access to the skills they need to grow and invest, so the 457 visa will be replaced by a new temporary visa, specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest,”
Short term visas will be issued for two years, while medium term visas will be issued only for more critical skills shortages and for up to four years. The visa will also carry tougher English language tests and stricter labour market testing, together with requiring visa holders to have at least two years of work experience and undergo a mandatory police check. A minimum market salary rate will be imposed to ensure that overseas workers are not engaged to undercut Australian workers.
The list of occupations that qualify for a visa will also be reduced from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted.
Application fees will also rise from a flat $1060 to $1150 for the two-year visa and more than double to $2400 for the four-year visa.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stated that the government would closely monitor companies that have an unnecessarily high proportion of 457 or foreign workers in jobs in order to ensure companies and industry bodies are meeting their respective labour marketing testing requirements.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox welcomed the decision stating that by "ending that visa category, adding limits and more clearly defining its successor visas will help draw the focus back to the program's primary purpose: addressing the pockets of skill shortages that persist in our economy".
Others have lashed out at the decision, pointing out that less than 1 per cent of Australia’s 12 million strong workforce are on 457 visas.
Anyone currently in Australia on a 457 visa (which lasts for four years) will not be affected by the new arrangements and we will keep you updated as the topic progresses.
Do not hesitate to contact Clifford Gouldson Lawyers’ Workplace Team should you have any questions regarding the content of this update.