Government to scrap 457 visas

New temporary visa class to have tougher requirements, prime minister says

Image: Facebook.

Image: Facebook.

The government will abolish the 457 temporary visa class, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced today.

457 visas have been widely used by the technology sector, with some groups such as the IT Professionals Association (ITPA) claiming that they have been abused by employers.

“We’re abolishing 457 visas – the visas the bring temporary foreign workers into our country,” Turnbull said in a video posted on Facebook.

“We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.”

The 457 visa will replaced by a new temporary visa class, Turnbull said.

“The new visa will better target genuine skills shortages, including in regional Australia,” the PM said. “It will include new requirements, including previous work experience, better English language proficiency and labour market testing.”

The government will also establish a new training fund, Turnbull added.

Addressing a press conference this afternoon Turnbull and immigration minister Peter Dutton said that the existing four-year 457 visa class will be replaced with two new temporary visas.

A new medium-term visa will have a four-year term and cover a relatively narrow list of occupations. The four-year visa will require a “higher standard of English” and “in almost all cases” mandatory market testing, Turnbull said.

There will be capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the medium-term stream, the government said.

Another visa stream will have a two-year duration and cover a broader list of occupations, though the PM said that the occupations covered by the visa will be substantially reduced compared to the list of 200+ currently eligible for 457 visas.

At the end of the two years, there will be the possibility of lodging an onshore application for a two-year extension; after four years, however, the visa holder would have to leave and their employer reapply.

The immigration department said the the occupation list for skilled migration visas, including 457 visas, will be significantly reduced from 19 April.

Both visa categories will require at least two years’ relevant work experience. There will be a minimum market salary rate (currently $53,900).

There are some 95,000 457 visa holders in Australia, according to the government. There will be a grandfathering arrangement for existing 457 visas.

Figures from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection reveal that as of 30 September, during the 2016-17 financial year Australia’s information media and telecommunications sector has lodged 2000 457 visa applications, up 4.8 per cent on the same point in 2015-16.

The information media and telecommunications sector accounted for 14.4 per cent of all primary 457 visa applications in the period covering applications through to 30 September.

‘Developer programmer” was the second most popular occupation for 457 visa applications in the period covered by the immigration department’s report. ICT business analyst was fifth most popular; software engineer came in at number seven and analyst programmer at number 13.

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