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What is a 457 sponsorship visa and what are the recent changes everyone is talking about?

On 18 April, 2017, the Australian government announced that it was abolishing the Temporary Work (Skilled) (457) visa (also known as the 457 sponsorship visa) and replacing it with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa. While this is still essentially an Australian work permit, the objective of these changes is to give Australian workers priority for jobs over people from overseas.

What is the 457 sponsorship visa?

The 457 visa program was an employer sponsored visa that allowed people from a wide range of professions to work in Australia for up to four years. The occupations that were eligible under the program were decided based on a broad list of 651 professions (called the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List and the Skilled Occupations List) that included cooks, labourers, medical specialists, technology and educational skill sets. Employers sponsored people to work for them as part of the program.

What changes have and will be made to the visa program?

In March 2018 the 457 visa will be replaced by the TSS visa. The key changes to the employer sponsored visa program include:

The TSS visa will have two streams: a short-stream for visas of up to two years and a medium-term stream for visas of up to four years

  • The short-term stream visa can only be renewed onshore once;
  • The medium-term visa can be renewed onshore and will have a path to permanent residency after three years;
  • All applicants must have at least two years’ work experience in their specific occupation;
  • All applicants will be required to undergo criminal checks;
  • All applicants will be required to pass English language requirements, regardless of their experience or salary;
  • There will be less exemptions for skills assessments for Australian visas, which means more professions will need to have their skills formally assessed;
  • All visa holders on this Australian work visa must be paid a market salary rate;
  • The employer must demonstrate that they have already tried to find candidates in Australia; and
  • The employer must contribute to a new training fund to help build the skills base of Australians.

The list of professions that are eligible for each visa has already been changed with two new lists created: The Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). These will be reviewed every six months.

As of 1 July 2017 the number of occupations listed has reduced:

  • The STSOL has reduced from 651 to 423 occupations. 59 of these occupations now have some additional restrictions, for example they only apply to regional Australia; and
  • The MLTSSL will also be a much smaller list of occupations.

What happens if I hold a 457 visa?

If you currently hold a 457 visa it will continue to remain in effect. If you applied for a 457 visa on or before 18 April 2017 then you may no longer be eligible. If you think you may be affected, contact our advisors at Pathway Lawyers & Migration Agents to find out what you need to do next.

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