Australia's long-running temporary work visa scheme will terminate in March 2018. But you can still apply for one in the meantime.
In April 2017 the Australian government announced a new work visa that will replace the current 457 visa. The government decided to abolish the 457 visa and replace it with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in a bid to prioritise local jobs and prevent employers from abusing the scheme.
The 457 visa scheme will be terminated in March 2018. So, what will be different about the new visa, and what happens to people who are still on the 457 visa?
457 visa changes
You can find more details here, but the most important points are:
- The 457 visa will disappear completely in March 2018, to be replaced by the TSS visa, but until then you can still apply for 457 visas.
- The are major changes to the occupations list. These changes already apply to the 457 visa, and will also apply to the TSS visa.
- There are now two different types of 457 visa, based on the applicant's occupation. Many 457 visas no longer have a pathway to permanent residency.
What is the 457 visa?
The 457 visa allows international workers to come to Australia and work for an approved business for up to two or four years. You must be sponsored in order to get the visa, but a business owner should only look for workers from overseas if they cannot find someone locally to fill the positions.
The visa allows you to bring members of your family to Australia, and you can travel in and out of Australia as often as you like, without jeopardising your visa status.
How long can I stay in Australia on a 457 visa?
If you have a 457 visa you can stay in Australia for up to either two or four years, depending on the occupations list.
- Two years: for occupations listed on the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL)
- Four years: for occupations listed on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
Both lists were introduced in the April 2017 announcement, and updated in July 2017 announcements, and give a clearer indication of what you can and cannot do for this visa type.
The 457 visa is a work visa, not a study visa. You are required to get a student visa if you intend to study. Learn more about student visas here.
If you are a student who wants to work on a 457 visa, you now need to have two years work experience in the occupation you want to work in. If you are studying to gain employment you need to be able to survive in Australia for two years while gaining experience, or head home to get that experience, and then apply to return under the 457 visa.
Alternatively, you may be eligible for a bridging visa in the interim.
What happens if I’ve already applied for a 457 visa?
If you have already applied for a 457, your application will be processed under the new strengthened conditions. It can take anywhere up to six months to find out if your visa has been approved. If you are no longer eligible to apply as a result of new changes, you may be refunded visa application fees.
Fortunately, you won’t need to reapply for a 457 visa despite the changes. However, if you are denied a visa you will of course need to reapply.
Am I eligible for a 457 visa?
Two important things count towards eligibility for a 457 visa; the job you are applying for and sponsorship from an organisation.
The list of applicable jobs is now reduced, and caveats apply to many of them. The list will also be subject to six-monthly revisions. You can read the list of available jobs here.
Can I get permanent residency while on a 457 visa?
Yes. You can get still get permanent residency with a 457 visa after the changes, and will still be able to get permanent residency with TSS visas. However, this now depends on your occupation.
- STSOL: Occupations on this list will no longer be eligible for permanent residency.
- MLTSSL: Occupations on this list will still be able to pursue permanent residency.
However, the occupations list is subject to ongoing change. It was first revised and split into these two categories on 19 April 2017, and was further tightened on 1 July 2017. It will also be subject to regular revisions for the foreseeable future.
The occupation list that applies to your application is determined by the date on which your application succeeds, and not when you apply.
Permanent residency for MLTSSL occupations
If the occupation specified on your application is on the MLTSSL list, and not ruled out by any caveats, you may be able to get permanent residency later. This is done by transitioning from a temporary 457 visa to a permanent visa.
Typically, a skilled 457 visa holder will move to a Employer Nomination Scheme visa (186 visa) or Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (187 visa). Both of these have similar pathways to permanent residency. The main difference is that 187 visas are for regional parts of Australia, while 186 areas are for everywhere else.
In order to get a 186 or 187 visa, your employer needs to nominate you for one of the following streams.
|Stream||Who is eligible?|
Temporary residence transition stream
|This stream is specially designed for 457 visa holders.|
Direct entry stream
For people who have never, or only briefly, worked in Australia, do not qualify for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream, or have been nominated by their employer for this stream. Nominees need to be under the age of 45.
A special one-off agreement between nominating employers and the government, to bring in overseas workers through a negotiated formal labour agreement. There are no set age restrictions.
Generally applicants must:
- Be nominated by their employer
- Be offered a permanent job by their employer
- Have a satisfactory level of English
- Meet general health and character requirements
- STSOL visa holders will not be eligible for permanent residency while in Australia on a 457 or TSS visa.
- MLTSOL may transition to permanent residency with any of the three streams.
- Other temporary visa holders, such as those on a working visa, might be able to transition to permanent residency under the Direct Entry or Agreement stream.
Summary: how is the TSS visa different to the 457 visa?
The changes to the 457 visa are confusing, and may change in the future. See our full guide to the differences between the 457 visa and its replacement visa here.
If you are considering applying for a 457 visa or wish to move from a 457 visa to permanent residency, a migration agent can be very helpful. Migration agents can keep you updated on changes to immigration law and advise you on the various visa options and pathways available.
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