A surprising announcement was made yesterday by the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, that the Australian government will be abolishing the 457 program and replacing it with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, which will officially come into effect in March of 2018 (next year).
This has created a ripple effect of fear, confusion and uncertainty for 457 visa applicants, and 457 sponsors, which include small businesses, medium-to-large organisations and even government bodies who all utilise the 457 program to fill a wide array of skilled vacancies with skilled workers from around the globe, including Europe, Asia and the Americas.
It is important to know that the transition of changes of the move from the current 457 program to the new TSS visa has already begun. Reforms have come into effect from today starting with the occupation lists, and more changes to follow this coming 1st of July 2017. Below are the immediate changes, effective from today, that may affect your 457 visa/nomination/sponsorship:
Changes commencing on the 19th April (today):
- Occupation list change: The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), which was the list of occupations that employers could sponsor people to fill, has been renamed to the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) of which 216 occupations have been removed (from 651 to 435 occupations). Note: The STSOL will be updated every 6 months
- The new STSOL will have occupation specific restrictions applied to 59 of the occupations and 24 occupations have been limited for sponsorship to regionally located employers (such as occupations relating to farming and agriculture).
- The Skilled Occupation List (SOL), which refers to the Skilled Migration category will be renamed to the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list will consist of occupations that have been identified as high value occupations to the Australian economy.
- 457 Visa Validity Period: The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the STSOL will be 2 years. The maximum duration of 457 visas issued from this date for occupations that are on the MLTSSL will be 4 years.
So what does this mean for you as an applicant or employer?
This means that depending on your occupation or vacant position:
- You will not be able to use the 457 program for occupations that have been removed from the occupations lists.
- For the remaining occupations, on the new lists, you can still use the 457 program but some restrictions may apply to your occupation, or will only be allowed for regional work purposes.
- The maximum period of the visa validity of 457 visas granted from the 19th of April 2017 onwards will vary depending on what list the occupation/vacancy falls under (STSOL vs MSTSSL).
Current 457 visa holders are not affected by the change and their visas will continue to remain in effect. The only time where the changes will affect current 457 visa holders is if they intend to switch employers, which requires a new 457 nomination (which will be subject to the new occupation lists and associated restrictions).
Current 457 nomination and visa applications that have been lodged on or before the 18th of April 2017 (where the application/s have not yet been finalised) will be affected by the new occupation lists. The Department of Immigration have advised that applications affected by the changes may be eligible for a refund of their nomination fee and visa application fee.
If you are about to embark on a 457 case (or if you are in the middle of the process), please make sure you understand the above changes and consult with an experienced registered migration agent who can navigate the changes and offer you advice and assistance to help you, moving forward.
If you require professional assistance with your matter, please email us at [email protected]. Due to the sudden nature of the announcement made regarding the 457 visa program, you may experience 1-2 business days of delay in our response to your enquiry.
If you have an urgent case matter which requires immediate intervention and you wish to engage us to professionally assist with your case, please call us on 1300 61 99 77 (or +61 7 3181 5588) and clearly describe your situation (such as your occupation, the status of your application and any other problems you require immediate assistance with).