Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Tuesday that Australia will kill off the 457 temporary working visa program, replacing it with a new framework with fewer spots and more stringent requirements. But if you're one of the 95,000 people currently in Australia on a 457, or held out hopes for some day working in Australia, what does that mean for you?
What Is A 457 Visa?
Well the full name is Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457). It's a visa for foreign citizens, which "lets a skilled worker travel to Australia to work in their nominated occupation for their approved sponsor for up to four years." Workers have to be sponsored by an Australian business, with the business having to prove they couldn't find a suitable Australian worker to fill the job.
The 457 program has been a target of the federal government for some time, with claims Australians were missing out on jobs to foreign workers. Immigration minister Peter Dutton signalled last year that the government was looking to scale back the number of industries eligible to host 457 workers, but the sudden and absolute axing of the program was unexpected.
What Are The Changes?
For a start, the 457 visa sub-class will be abolished entirely. It's gone. In its place will be two new visa programs, one two-year and one four-year, called the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa. The new visas will come into force in March 2018 (click here for more information). While more than 650 jobs are currently available for 457 holders, that number will be reduced by 200 under the new program.
Here's 180 jobs that can no longer be worked on a 457 visa. pic.twitter.com/1Met1u9GS4— Rob Harris (@rharris334) April 18, 2017
The new visa classes will have higher requirements than the current 457 program, including:
- "a higher standard of English";
- "a proper police record, a criminal check";
- a two-year work experience requirement; and
- "mandatory labour market testing".
"These new visas will ensure that Australian businesses have access to the workers from overseas they need to fill real skill gaps, but not otherwise, and that Australians, wherever possible, where vacancies are there, where opportunities are there, Australians will be able to fill them," Turnbull said in Canberra on Tuesday.
More broadly, holders of the new visas will not be as easily able to apply for permanent residency as 457 holders are, according to Dutton. He said getting a 457 visa "results, in many cases, in a migration outcome, somebody going into permanent residency and becoming a citizen" but that under the new system, "there won't be permanent residency outcomes at the end of [the two-year visa]".
It is also going to cost employers more to sponsor a foreign worker, with the fee for a four-year visa more than doubling to $2400 and a two-year visa to be $1150.
Turnbull said the new system would be "conducted in the national interest to put Australians and Australian jobs first", a mantra he repeated several times during the press conference to announce the changes.
While the new visas won't come in for almost a year, some changes are happening from tomorrow. In its announcement, the government said it would be "significantly condensing the occupation lists used for skilled migration visas, including the subclass 457 visa, from 19 April 2017."
So essentially, we're culling a temporary working visa, and replacing it with two temporary working visas.
So @TurnbullMalcolm, you're replacing the 457 visa scheme with a new temporary visa scheme...