A major overhaul of the Employer Sponsored visa known as the 457 was announced by the Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday afternoon on Facebook.
What is the 457 program and what changes have been announced?
The 457 Visa pathway is designed to attract foreign workers to Australia to fill local skills shortages. The four-year Employer Sponsored visa also enables workers to apply for permanent residency in Australia.
There have been some in the community who have felt foreign workers have been prioritised over Australian workers so the government has moved to “put Australian workers first” by reducing the number of eligible occupations, with remaining job requirements more prescriptive.
When do the changes come into effect?
Skilled Occupation List – immediate effect
The number of eligible occupations has been reduced from 651 to 435 with immediate effect. Those that have been removed are listed here.
New visa categories – from March 2018
The 457 program will be replaced with the following categories
- Short-term stream up to 2 years
- Medium-term stream up to 4 years
Applicants will also be required to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation and there will be tougher English language requirements. The entry age will also be capped at 45.
Ross Ahmadzai, General Manager of VisaCorp, lists the key aspects of the changes on the Migration Alliance blog. He says one of the key differences is the pathway to permanent residency with eligibility only under the more restrictive Medium-term stream.
What will be the impact?
Migration agents, particularly those who specialise in this employment visa category are currently scrambling to speak to clients who have applications in progress whose occupations are subject to the immediate ban. Current 457 holders will not be impacted, but applications made after next March will be subject to the new rules.
Whilst the media has focused on categories such as “goat farmers” the list includes roles in the technology sector with Australia’s start-up community warning it could leave the industry short of the workers it needs to compete globally. Tech is one of the biggest users of 457 visas, with Atlassian having around 25% of jobs filled by foreign skilled workers, while with relevant skills in the start-up sector in short supply in Australia.
In recent conversations with Australian Farmers, many welcome Chinese investors to provide investment and expansion capital, but for those planning to bring in their owns worker under 457 and the more stringent criteria will be welcome news for local farm staff.
How will this effect the Significant Investor Visa pathway?
Views are unclear as to whether there will be an increase in the applications under the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) which is a passive investment pathway, rather than active employment under 457. However, there will be some who looking more towards the Business and Innovation pathway and also the 132 Business talent which some have steered to following the changes to the SIV investment framework.
Expat Advisors Community member Ivan Chait, who specialises in pathways for high net worth migrants countries such as China and South Africa to Australia, including the Significant Investor Visa, thinks it is possible that the changes could result in a renewed interest in the Business and Investment visa streams including the Significant Investment visas.
” There has always been interest in Australia from major migrant source countries such as China. In many cases, these migrants have preferred employment-related categories including the 457 visa category as it has had a fairly large quick processing time, involves far less documentation and is cheaper that the Business and Investment visas”.
Mr Chait says there will still be strong interest in Australia but it will now be necessary to once again consider the Business and Investor visa options given that the 457 and Skilled categories may no longer be an option for many prospective migrants.
For anyone considering a move to Australia, it is important to get the right advice from a suitably qualified and locally registered migration agent for the most appropriate visa pathway aligned with their personal circumstances and objectives. Check out some of the other visa categories here.
Stacey Martin is a Significant Investor Visa Consultant and founder of the Expat Advisors Community network of professionals with internationally connected clients. She works closely with Migration Alliance who has around 4,000 members in Australia. You can contact Stacey here.