Changes to Australian 457 visas

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In 2017 the government is replacing the 457 visa and changing the rules. Here's what you need to know.

The 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa is meant for skilled workers coming to Australia. It gives visitors the right to work in the country and bring their families to Australia. In 2017, the 457 was changed and in 2018, it will be removed entirely and replaced with a completely new visa class called the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa.

How are current 457 visa holders or applicants affected?

  • If you are currently in Australia on a 457 visa then your visa remains unchanged and will continue as before.
  • If you lodged an application for a 457 visa on or before 18 April 2017 then the changes affect your application.

How have 457 visas changed?

As of 19 April the approved occupations list for 457 visas has changed. Many occupations have been removed and new conditions now apply to some occupations. Some occupations have also been divided into different groups for short- and long-term visas. The Australian government will introduce other changes throughout 2017. By March 2018 there will be no more 457 visas.

New occupation Lists (April 2017)

Previously there were 651 approved skilled occupations that let people work in Australia. After the changes there are only 435 occupations, which will be divided into two categories.

Short-term visa occupations

Formerly the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), this is now the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL).

  • Being accredited in these occupations lets you get a two year working visa, which you can renew once in Australia.
  • This list of occupations will be revised every six months, and the occupations will change over time.
  • Some of the occupations on this new list, such as those related to farming, are only available for regional areas.
Medium- and long-term visa occupations

Formerly the Skilled Occupations List (SOL), this is now called the Medium- and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).

  • Being accredited in these occupations lets you get a visa for up to four years.
  • Some of the occupations on this list are only available with certain visa programs.
  • See the list of MLTSSL occupations.

Future changes

Both occupation lists will be revised further, and there will also be changes to English language requirements, character requirements and training requirements.

July 2017
  • English language salary threshold exemption. As of July 2017 all applicants will need to meet English language requirements regardless of salary (previously applicants earning over $96,400 were exempt).
  • Character requirements. Penal clearance certificates become mandatory for all applicants. Australia’s immigration department will check applicants for any criminal record overseas.
  • Training benchmarks. Training benchmark requirements will be made clearer in legislation. This change is aimed at Australian businesses, not visa applicants.
December 2017
  • In December the Department of Immigration will start collecting tax file numbers for 457 visa holders and other employer-sponsored migrants. This data will be matched with the tax office’s records to ensure that visa holders are not being paid less than their nominated salary.
  • The Department of Immigration will start publishing the details of businesses who fail to meet their obligations.

The termination of the 457 visa scheme and the new TSS visa

By March 2018 the 457 visa will end. It will be replaced with the new TSS visa. The following conditions will apply to the TSS visa. Some of these also apply to the old 457 visa, and some of these are being introduced before the TSS visa comes out.

  • Work experience. Applicants need to have at least two years of relevant work experience.
  • Character. Penal clearance certificates are mandatory.
Additional requirements may apply depending on whether the occupation is a short-term (STSOL) or a medium-term (MLTSSL) one.
Short-term skilled occupation list (STSOL)
  • Renewability. Visas can be renewed in Australia only once.
  • No residency pathway.  Applicants must satisfy the immigration department that they are only getting the visa for temporary work purposes. 
  • English language requirements. Applicants require an IELTS score of 5. This is the same as the English language requirements on the 457 visa, although some exemptions will no longer apply.
  • Occupation. Your occupation must be on the STSOL.
Medium and long-term strategic skills list (MLTSSL)
  • Renewability. Visas can be renewed more than once.
  • Residency pathway. This visa stream includes a pathway to permanent residency.
  • English language requirements. Applicants require an IELTS score of 5. This is the same as the English language requirements on the 457 visa, although some exemptions will no longer apply.
  • Occupation. Your occupation must be on the MLTSSL.

There will also be some changes which may affect your chances of being offered a job in Australia and the number of TSS visas which will be offered. Australian businesses will also have some additional requirements.

  • Labour market testing. Businesses must check the local labour market for qualified applicants before bringing in overseas workers, except in special circumstances.
  • Minimum market salary rate. Employers must pay visa applicants the Australian market salary rate, and must pay applicants at least the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold ($53,900 as of April 2016).
  • Workforce. A non-discriminatory workforce test is required to ensure that employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers.

457 versus TSS visa: a snapshot

Visa conditions457 visaTSS visa
English language requirementsVocational EnglishVocational English
Eligible occupations651 eligible occupations435 eligible occupations
Employer requirementsAble to bring in overseas workers when neededStrict requirements for bringing in overseas workers
Residency pathwaysOne visa type, with a pathway to permanent residencyThere is no residency pathway for Short-term TSS visas. Medium-term TSS visas have a pathway to permanent residency
English language salary exemptionsFrom July 2017 visa holders earning over $96,400 are no longer exempt from English language requirementsAll visa holders must meet English language requirements regardless of salary

Find a migration agent and begin your Australian visa application

If you're thinking of migrating to Australia and find the recent visa changes confusing, a migration agent can make the whole process much simpler. A migration agent can help you:

  • Stay up-to-date on changes to Australian immigration law
  • Find the right visa type for your situation
  • Collect and complete the necessary paperwork
  • Submit your application correctly and easily

Find a migration agent


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