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…
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 18, 2017
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…
- Fact sheet one: Reforms to Australia’s temporary employer sponsored skilled migration programme—abolition and replacement of the 457 visa
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.
The maximum age threshold for permanent residence has been reduced to 45 on these skills based visas, effectively shutting off the pathway to permanent visa options for those over this age.
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)
If you want to know what your options are, but you are struggling to understand all the rules, you really do need to speak to a MARA registered migration agent for expert advice.
To find out what they are and how to find one, please visit my page called Choosing a MARA Registered Migration Agent.