Government abolishes the 457 visa

Government abolishes the 457 visa

After two decades and tens of thousands of visas, the 457 visa category has been abolished. But what was it and why does this matter?

Introduced by the Howard government in 1996, the 457 visa allowed businesses to hire workers from overseas with specialised skills. The 457 visa once granted, allowed that individual to work in Australia for a period of up to four years with a sponsored business.

The four-year visa allowed foreign workers to fill jobs here in more than 650 occupations, including sectors that have experienced oversupply of labour. Under this visa, they could also bring their partner and children to live with them in Australia.

The visas were originally designed to fill positions that could not be filled by local workers, however at its peak in 2012-13, there were more than 127,000 Subclass 457 Visas granted, the majority of these workers come from India with 27%, the UK with 17% and China at 6.1%.

On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

“We will safeguard Australian jobs by abolishing the Subclass 457 Visa for foreign workers and creating a new temporary visa restricted to critical skills shortages. This will ensure Australian workers are given the absolute first priority for jobs, while businesses will be able to temporarily access the critical skills they need to grow if skilled Australians workers are not available,” Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister.

The TSS visa program will comprise two streams:-

Short-Term stream of up to two years, which can be renewed for another two years
– 2 Years minimum work experience
– Compulsory criminal history check
– no access to permanent residency

Medium-Term stream of up to four years targeted at specific high-level skills
– 3 years minimum work experience
– Compulsory criminal history check
– higher standards of English proficiency
– maximum age restriction of 45 years
– access to permanent residency after 3 years

The new visa program promises to support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce whilst ensuring a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

Both visas demand a minimum years of relevant work experience, something not required under the 457 scheme. Applicants must also complete a criminal history check instead of the self-declaration under the now-abolished scheme.

There are also changes to the permanent residency arrangements under the new scheme — previously, 457 visa holders could be eligible for permanent residency after two years. There is no residency pathway under the new two-year visa, while four-year visa holders will see the permanent residence eligibility period extended from two to three years.

More than 200 jobs have been cut from the list of occupations that foreign workers can apply for under the new scheme. The list, which previously included more than 650 types of work, will no longer include roles such as call centre managers, shearers, pilots, zookeepers, shoemakers, jockeys, stonemasons or actors. There will be 268 professions eligible for the short-term visa, and 167 for the longer visa program.

The new visa program promises to support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce whilst ensuring a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

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