On 18 April 2017, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a sweeping reforms package affecting foreign workers that he states has been designed to safeguard jobs for Australians.
The new temporary visa framework currently being rolled out in stages will culminate in the axing of the Temporary Work 457 visa, which is earmarked to be replaced by the new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa by 1 March 2018.
A joint press statement released on the day from PM Turnbull and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton explained the crux of the government’s objective is to ensure that Australian businesses have access to overseas workers they need to fill real skill gaps, but not at the expense of eligible Australians.
Turnbull’s visa bombshell has thousands of migrants and an entire generation of employers across Australia reeling. Indeed, the restaurant and hospitality industry has been particularly critical of Turnbull’s new scheme, urging celebrity chef Neil Perry to issue his own warning that the changes could prevent restaurateurs from thriving and would ultimately affect delivery and services, jeopardizing the reputation of Australia as a foodie destination.
The Government’s culling of the 457 visa took everyone by surprise. But what exactly are the changes and what does the TSS mean for current 457 visa holders and prospective temporary workers, particularly those hoping to use 457 status as a pathway to permanent residency and living their Australian dream.
The two TSS visa programs ushers in much stricter requirements than the current 457 visa, including:
- a higher standard of English
- a proper police record/criminal check
- a 2-year work experience requirement; and
- mandatory labour market testing
In announcing the changes to the migration program, it was implied that current 457 visa holders were not at risk. Yet, it’s still unclear how current foreign workers in Australia will be treated once their current visas expire or when they apply for permanent residency; whether they will be assessed under the conditions that existed when they first obtained their 457 visa, or whether they will revert to the new system.
What we do know is that under the new two-tier system, the number of jobs available to temporary overseas workers will be reduced from 650 to 450, and the bulk of jobs will only be eligible for two-year temporary work visas, and ineligible for permanent residency afterwards. Only around 180 of the total 450 jobs will be eligible for four-year stays and permanent residency. A reduced list of eligible occupations will also apply.
With less than six months until the changes to residency kick in, it’s important to note that 457 holders have until 1 March 2018 to submit their applications for permanent residency. Those who believe they are eligible to do so, should use this grace period wisely and seek expert assistance.
Our team of registered migration agents are armed with the most up to date information about changes to the 457 visa, and we continue to monitor further developments as the Government forges ahead with their scheduled rollout of the TSS visa program.
Contact us at Hunt Migration for professional guidance and counsel. Book a free visa assessment appointment with your local Hunt migration lawyer now.