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Progressive or reactionary? Government slashes 457 visa.

by David Burkett, Apr 20, 2017

On 18 April 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull assisted by Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be replaced entirely with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa which will supposedly “support businesses in addressing the genuine problem of skill shortages”.

The new “Australians first” focused overhaul of the 457 Visa scheme comes just 2 days after Mr Turnbull announced changes affecting immigration laws. The new TSS Visa will be made up of 2 different types of visas. The first is a Short-Term visa that is valid for up to 2 years. The alternative visa is a Medium-Term solution which is good for up to 4 years. 

Why the reform? It is part of the government’s solution to the difficult question
“How do we strengthen the quality and integrity of Australia’s temporary and permanent employee sponsored skilled migration programs?”

“The 457 visa is abolished. It will be replaced by a new system that will be manifestly, rigorously, resolutely conducted in the national interest to put Australians and Australian jobs first…” ~ Mr Turnbull

WorkingMouse is a start-up and like many start-ups in Brisbane and across Australia, we will feel the impact of these changes. The team here at WorkingMouse HQ could not help but notice that one of the occupations no longer available on the new 2-year visa is “Web Developer”.  Based on statistics found by Start-up Muster 2017 (the largest survey of the Australian start-up ecosystem, including 685 verified start-up founders, 239 potential founders and 474 start-up supporters) 2 findings stood out to WorkingMouse in particular: 

  1. Over the last decade Australia has faced a significant skills shortage in the technology sector, with demand for IT workers having doubled. 
  2. 61% of Australian start-ups are founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. 

On top of the culling from 651 occupations to just 268 available occupations, applicants of the 2-year visa will require 2 years of prior work experience and will no longer be able to convert to a permanent residence. While it is possible for employers to renew their staff’s short term visa once, for an extended 2 years, further extensions on this type of visa will require the employee to leave Australia and reapply. 

The other new visa (still part of the TSS) is the longer term 4-year visa. Just 167 occupations (484 occupations no longer available) will be on offer. The good news is that this type of visa can be converted into permanent residency (after 3 years). 

To determine how many startups might be impacted, FinTech Australia and StartupAUS are calling on startups to help create a fact base about the Government's announced 457 Visa Changes.

You can view the full list of eligible skilled occupations here.