On 18th April, when Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced that the 457 visa was being abolished, the world went in uproar, and would-be migrants to Australia believed they had been robbed of their dream of living and working in Australia.
The announcement was made strongly by Mr Turnbull, and on the surface, it appeared as though the 457 temporary employer sponsored visa was being scrapped completely, immediately, and that all of those skilled migrants overseas who had set their sights on that visa would have no choice but to either:
- Try to migrate to Australia through other, more limited visas, such as Permanent Residency (e.g. visa subclass 189); or
- Let go of their dream of migrating to Australia.
Abolishing the 457 Visa Didn’t Make Sense
When I first heard the announcement about the 457 visa being abolished, so quickly and out of the blue, my first response was, “how can they do this”? It just didn’t make sense to me due to the following:
- All these years the 457 visa has been enabling Australia to fill skill shortages that could not be fulfilled by Australians
- Sponsoring an overseas national is more expensive for an Australian employer than it is to hire a local Australian
- Sponsoring an overseas national is complex, takes time and a lot of paperwork and procedures that can be avoided by hiring a local worker
- Every year the Australian Government reassesses the Australian job market and skills shortages, updating the qualifying occupations list every 1st July, listing hundreds of jobs that are in demand in Australia
When you think about it, the announcement about the 457 visa is kind of timely, as this time of year the government does a review of the Australian job market and makes a decision on which skills are in demand in Australia, updating the visa rules according to their findings. it therefore appears as though the Australian government has simply announced the changes early, in order to support the ‘farce’ that employer sponsorship is no longer.
457 Visa’s Bad Reputation
After the announcement, I did a lot of investigation using valid, Government sources only; and realised that this must have all been a political tactic in order to win over Australians, by making them think that they are going to be put in favour for jobs in Australia.
You see, the 457 visa had gotten a bad name in the past due to some businesses sponsoring family members and friends who perhaps weren’t necessarily the best person for the job; rather than hiring a more qualified and experienced Australian candidate. This upset a lot of hard working Australian job seekers and in many ways this tainted the 457 visa and bred a bit of discontent amongst Australians towards migrants to Australia.
As we all know, country leaders are always looking at how they can win over their countrymen and gain supporters, and use various tactics to do this; often involving painting wonderful pictures and saying what the people want to hear.
In this case, it appears that this is exactly what Mr Turnbull has done, and upon digging deeper into the 457 visa on the Australian immigration site, border.gov.au, it is clear that not much has changed at all, apart from some occupations being removed that according to Australian politician, Bill Shorten, will only affect one tenth of 457 visa holders, and therefore only one tenth of 457 visa seekers.
It is true that the 457 visa will be done away with as of March 2018. However, that is not the end of the road for people seeking employer sponsorship, as the visa will be replaced with two new visas.
Basically, the 457 visa will be repackaged as the “new” Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa, which will be split into two visa streams:
- Short-Term Stream: 2-years in duration, can be renewed only once
- Medium-Term Stream: 4-years in duration, can be renewed or may lead to a permanent visa
Occupations that Qualify for Employer Sponsorship
There is a little confusion about the lists that have been made available for both streams under the new sponsored visa. The Australian Immigration website states that “There is no separate STSOL (Short-term Skilled Occupation List) list on our website as visa programmes that utilise this list can also access some additional occupations on the MLTSSL.” As such, they have provided a combined list of eligible occupations.
However, in another part of the website, it states that “Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) replaced the previous ‘Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List’ (CSOL) and is available in Schedule 2 of the relevant legislative instrument.” You can click here to view the legislative instrument that includes Schedule 2 which shows the full STSOL list. Upon quick review, the list here appears to contain the same occupations as the combined list of eligible occupations, so it will be easier to just refer to the combined list.
When referring to the combined list of eligible occupations, it is important to make note of the occupations that are labelled with a triple asterisk ‘***’. This indicates that there are caveats, or instances in which that particular occupation may not be eligible for 457 visa sponsorship under all circumstances. To learn more about the limitations on occupations that are labelled with a triple asterisk ‘***’, refer to the summary of caveats on 457 occupations by clicking here.
457 visa announcement labelled as a ‘con-job’
Australian politician Bill Shorten confirms my own view that the 457 visa announcement was dramatised for political purposes, calling the announcement of axing the 457 visa by Mr Turnbull as nothing more than “cosmetic” and a “con-job”.
Mr Shorten does not hold back on his opinion of the announcement in his interview on the subject on 19th April, 2017; stating that “the government isn’t doing a ‘crack down’, it’s doing a con-job”; and that most of the occupations that are being removed from the eligible list of occupations for sponsorship have “not been used for 10 years”.
Mr Shorten invites us to review the situation in 12 months’ time, to see if the numbers of temporary workers from overseas have reduced; indicating that he doesn’t feel that the changes being made will make a real difference to the numbers of people migrating to Australia to work.
You can watch the entire interview by clicking here.