The 457 visa has been officially replaced from today by a new skilled worker visa system that will be restricted to filling critical skills shortages.
The Government announced last April that the 457 visa would be abolished due to concerns that Australians were not always being prioritised for Australian skilled jobs.
Major reforms to the 457 visa class have since been introduced including:
- reducing the number of available occupations eligible for the visa from 651 to 461
- restricting access to permanent residency to those roles where the skills shortage is forecast to persist over the medium to long term
- introducing legislation to ensure that there is adequate labour market testing in Australia before a visa is offered.
The Government wants to ensure that Australians have first priority for Australian-based jobs and that overseas workers are brought in when there are skills shortages.
From today, further changes will be made as part of the official replacement of the 457 visa with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482).
The changes coming into effect include:
- expanded requirements for employers to advertise jobs in Australia before hiring overseas workers
- strengthened English language requirements
- instituting a requirement for sponsored applicants to have at least two years of work experience (with some adjustments for specific occupations)
- maximum visa terms of two years for the short term stream, with capacity for one renewal, and four years for medium term stream
- eligibility for permanent residence arises only after three years, compared with two years under the 457 visa.
Under the TSS being introduced from today, there will be two streams – short term and medium to long term visas – which cater for different skills shortages. The new system will also see visa processing streamlined, particularly for lower risk applicants.
Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said the changes were designed to strengthen visa arrangements to ensure that Australian workers were given priority for Australian jobs.
"When Bill Shorten was Workplace Relations Minister, he brought in some 130,000 workers on 457s in just one year, nearly double the rate of today. This occurred while the welfare queues grew by thousands," Mr Tudge said.
"The Labor Party failed to put Australian jobs first when they were last in office."
"The Government is delivering on its promise to ensure we get the right balance between protecting local jobs and supporting Australian employers to fill critical skills shortages."
"In the last 12 months, there have been record jobs created, welfare queues shortened and a decline in 457s issued. That is a good trifecta for Australian workers."
As part of the regular review of the occupation lists which underpin the new visa arrangements, the Department of Jobs and Small Business will commence a consultation process including on skills shortages in regional areas. The outcomes of this consultation will be factored into the July 2018 review.