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457 Visas Abolished in Australia: Here’s What You Need to Know

On April 18th, the Australian Prime Minister announced that the 457 visa would be abolished and replaced with a new (TSS) work visa, focused on more highly skilled foreign workers.

What are 457 Visas and Why Are They Being Abolished?

The 457 visa allowed foreign nationals to live and work in Australia for up to four years, along with their family members.  It has been in place for 20 years, but is now being abolished due to concerns about unemployment of residents and an oversupply of labor.

It was valid in more than 650 occupations, including those that did not have any educational or work experience requirements.  This allowed a flow of unskilled labor into the country, but now that will be changing.

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The Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa

The 457 visa is now being replaced by the TSS visa of two different types: long term and short term.

Short Term:  The short term TSS visa is valid for two years, and can be renewed for two years.  It requires two years of relevant work experience, but there is no pathway to permanent residency.

Long Term: The long term TSS is valid for four years, and is designed for high skilled workers.  It also carries a two-year work experience requirement, as well as a high standard of English ability.  It is possible to seek permanent residency after three years.

Key Differences from 457 Visa: The primary differences are the work experience requirements for both types of TSS visas, and the English language ability test for the long term TSS.  Both will also require a criminal background check, which was formerly just a self-declaration.  Also, 216 of the eligible occupations for the 457 visa have been eliminated for the TSS visa.

What Do These Changes Mean?

Essentially, these changes mean that obtaining a work visa for Australia will be more difficult for some types of occupations.  The TSS is designed to fill temporary shortages of skills, and is not a way simply to hire cheaper foreign labor.

It is notable that on the same day, President Trump in the US signed an executive order to increase restrictions on awarding H1B work visas, and Singapore recently announced similar changes to their work visa program.  These moves seem to represent a trend in immigration policies to protect jobs for local residents, and prevent companies from hiring foreign nationals simply because it is cheaper.

Who Is Most Affected?

Those most affected are workers in the 200 occupations eliminated under the TSS regime, although current visa holders will not be affected. For example, call center managers and actors will no longer be eligible.  Also, any eligible workers are going to have to demonstrate work experience in their occupation to obtain a TSS visa, so that does eliminate many younger foreign workers.  Finally, companies that have relied on the 457 visa’s permissive rules will have to change their tactics, and perhaps hire more local residents.

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