Australian Government Abolishes 457 Visas

Today the Australian Government made a special announcement, and for some of you this will not be very good news at all. Political rumblings have been going on for a while with the opposition and a couple of fringe parties expressing their disapproval of this temporary work visa. The government insists though that this is their decision alone and there has been no influence.

Here’s Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull…

What we know, or at least think we know, so far:

  • The changes come into effect as at 19 April 2017
  • Current 457 visa holders will not be affected by these changes
  • 200 skills have been removed from the current list reducing from 650 down to 450

If you are an Amusement Centre Manager, or a Bed and Breakfast Operator, or Cinema or Theatre Manager, or a Vehicle Painter, Wool Buyer or a Zookeeper and you were hoping to move to Australia based on that skill, today you ran out of luck. There is a link to the full list of all 200 removed skills towards the end of this article.

For some time I’ve been saying the job market has not been too healthy here in Australia at the moment, and the situation hasn’t much improved since I wrote What’s It Really like Trying to Find a Job in Australia? – 2015.

If you read the comments on that page, you will see just how tough or even impossible it’s been for some people to find suitable work. It seems that now the government is trying to do something to fix that; for Australians.

And now the good news.

Two new replacement visas

Well, I’m not sure if we can call it good news yet or not. But the government are replacing the 457 visa with two new kinds of visas that will continue to bring skilled workers to Australia from abroad. With those two new visas, come two more new skills lists.

Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)

A two-year temporary visa targeting the “best and the brightest” with the new system being “manifestly, rigorously, resolutely conducted in the national interest” according to Mr Turnbull. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the new two-year visa would not lead to permanent residency.

Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)

This is a four-year temporary visa targeted at “higher skills” and is a much shorter skills list. I had a quick look at the list, it appears to have around 175 to 200 skills on it. This visa will require a certain level a proficiency in English, two years of work experience and a police check.

These were not a requirement of the replaced 457 visas.

Although I haven’t heard it said specifically or seen it in print, I believe this four-year visa will have a pathway to permanent residency. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has not said otherwise, which he has for the shorter term visa.

You can see this for yourself, here he is now…

So whether or not this four-year visa can lead to permanent residency is still a little unclear, but as soon as I know the answer I will update the information here.

The new skills lists

Both the old skills lists have been replaced as follows with immediate effect:

  • Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) replaced the previous ‘Skilled Occupation List’ (SOL)
  • Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) replaced the previous ‘Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List’ (CSOL)

Please visit the government’s website for more information. The following page contains both of the new lists in full listing all eligible skills as well as the ANZSCO code and the assessing authorities. You will also find a list of the 200 skills which have been removed in this update:

Details of these new arrangements are still a bit sketchy and the government’s website has not yet been fully updated to reflect all the changes.

Over the last couple of years, 457 visas have been in decline. Currently Australia has 95,758 working in the country on these temporary visas, that’s less than 1% of the workforce. Here’s how the scheme has performed since its introduction in 1996…

It will be interesting to see how the numbers pan out for these new replacement visas.

More on ABC News.

Update: 19 April 2017

As has been mentioned in the comments below, there is an interesting PDF with further information about this announcement available direct from the government’s immigration website.

To download it, click the link below…

This document does contain more information and as its title begins with ‘Fact sheet one‘, this suggests there is more to come. I have spoken to my MARA agent today, he also feels it’s too early to fully assess the new situation.

For sure though, the 457 visa as such will not actually be removed until March 2018. However, those 200 jobs that have been removed are immediate.

My MARA agent’s initial opinion at this stage is that after 19 April 2017 and interim to March 2018, 457 visas will continue to be granted (with or without caveats) and under policy, the maximum four year visa period will, however, only be available where the primary applicant’s occupation is on the new MLTSSL.

For all other applicants where their occupation is not on the MLTSSL, a maximum visa period of two years will be available. This includes primary visa applications, lodged, which are still pending a decision on 19 April 2017.

The two-year temporary period visas will be strictly temporary (with only one 2 year renewal) and with no pathway to permanent residency, whereas the four-year visa will have a pathway to permanent residency.

Proposed time-line of changes:

  • from 19 April 2017 – 216 occupations removed and 59 others restricted, 24 occupations restricted to regional Australia, occupational lists renamed, validity period for occupations on STSOL 2 years
  • from 01 July 2017 – English salary exemption, which exempts applicants whose salary is over $96,400 from the English language requirement, to be removed, training benchmarks to be changed, mandatory penal clearance certificates introduced
  • before 31 December 2017 – collection of Tax File Numbers (TFN) for 457 visa holders for ATO data matching, publication of sanctioned sponsors
  • from March 2018 – 457 visa abolished and replaced with TSS visa which will comprise the Short-Term (2 years) and Medium-Term stream (4 years)

More to come when we have it.

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • BobinOz April 20, 2017, 12:15 am | Link

    Thank you all for your comments and the additional links and information. As has been suggested, information is still coming through in dribs and drabs and it’s all a bit sketchy at the moment. I’ve just added an update, including a link to that PDF with further information, but even so I don’t think the dust has settled yet.

    I can’t answer any individual questions about how this might affect your applications, but I am in close contact with my MARA agent and if we have any concrete updates we will post them here.

  • danny April 19, 2017, 3:04 pm | Link

    My company has applied for 457 but now with all the changes I’ll fall under STSOL, so with this i have 2 years + 2 years renewal option. However, does this mean this end of road for me to apply for a PR? is this close ended opportunity because im under STSOL? or can I still apply PR under point based system?

    I’m concerned and your help is very much appreciated

    • Mark April 19, 2017, 4:17 pm | Link

      Hi Danny Have a read off this http://www.border.gov.au/WorkinginAustralia/Documents/abolition-replacement-457.pdf on face value and early days facts it would look correct but then read on, it says the skills list has immediate effect but the 457 will not be vamoosed (my word) until March 2018 It looks like any application for 457 with a removed skill will be refunded but that’s not what you fall under it seems so all is not lost …My thoughts would be if you have the opportunity to apply for a PR visa (which seems to be your goal at the end) under points based then go for it, alternatively get on with the 457 as I imagine there will be an influx of 457 applications now Use a MARA agent if you are doing it yourself for PR visa, there is one on here even
      I have a funny feeling we have not seen the last of this maneuvering of visas. I think come the renewals in July a lot more occupations may vanish as they will probably scrutinise states to be more accurate or expurgated with wanted lists…Good luck whatever you decide!

      • danny April 19, 2017, 4:32 pm | Link

        Hi Mark,

        Thanks a ton, what you say may save my ass because I may still get through the gate. however, i work for a startup and my lawyer mentioned i would get only 18month visa with old 457 rule for start-ups. So now i’m not sure what will happen.

        1: STSOL and change of rules
        2: PR removed from STSOL
        3: PR for 3 years +
        4: my visa was supposed to be 18months but now not sure what will happen
        5: My lawyer is on holiday
        Wow! i think its ok to freak out now……

  • Thijs April 19, 2017, 12:02 am | Link

    Hi Bob,

    Here’s an extra source you may want to check: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/457-abolition-replacement

    This may be good information to further clarify and specify some stuff in your post; because this is obviously quite sensitive matter that lots of people will probably be very anxious about. I note 2 things that may be good to include:

    – The abolishment of the 457 visa program does not start on April 19th (but the changes to the occupations list do indeed). The abolishment of the 457 visa program an the replacement will be for March 2018 according to this official source (and how it appears in that source at the moment I’m typing this… no guarantees for the future).

    – The source also states: “capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the Medium-Term stream” … so there’s that in “print”. In this context, it also mentions: “the permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years”.

    Cheers,
    Thijs

  • Iyyappan April 18, 2017, 9:34 pm | Link

    I have got state nomination for hr job.. which is removed from the new list.. I got the invite only today for 190 visa.. so I can still apply visa online or I will not be eligible to apply for visa after 19 April? ?

    • Thijs April 18, 2017, 11:40 pm | Link

      Hi lyyappan,

      I’m not an immigration agent nor can I guarantee the information is correct, but currently, this is the state of things as to the changed lists:

      These changes will only apply to new applications lodged on, or after, 19 April 2017 for:
      -Employer Nominated Scheme (subclass 186) – Direct Entry Stream
      -Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
      -Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489) – if nominated by a State or Territory Government
      -Training visa (subclass 407)​​​​

      However, for the subclass 457 programme for any of these removed occupations on, or after, 19 April 2017:
      -no visa applications can be granted
      -no nomination applications can be approved.

      Source: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists ; scroll to the bottom and click open the “removed occupations item”

      So long story short: unless you still apply today, April 18th 2017, it will apply starting tomorrow for your 190 visa application. For 457 visa, it’s even worse: for those, it even applies to applications already submitted. Those visa can simply no longer be granted for any of the removed occupations.

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