Australia: 457 Visa Replacement Update
Last April, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Temporary Work (Skilled) visas — also known as 457 visas — would be replaced in March 2018. The 457 visa will be replaced by two “streams” of Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visas, a short-term stream of up to two years and a medium-term stream of up to four years. Unlike the 457 visa, the short-term TSS visa does not offer a path to permanent residency. Managing the two streams will also entail increased administrative burdens and filing fees for employers. (For details, read our blog post on the changes.)
As of this writing, the legislation related to the new TSS visas has not been finalized, nor has the specific March 2018 date for introducing the new visas. Initially proposed as March 1, 2018, this is now certain to be deferred but still expected to be introduced during the month of March.
In January, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs updated the occupation lists of temporary and permanent skilled visas “to reflect the skills needs of the Australian labor market, and to continue to support Australian businesses to address skills shortages that they are unable to fill locally.” The Department of Home Affairs also told immigration agents that visa applications in the pipeline “will not to be subject to new restrictions on permanent residency set to come into effect in March.”
In short, the situation is still evolving, and employers in Australia that sponsor visas must follow developments closely over the coming months. Due to the changes being implemented, the Department of Home Affairs is taking two to three months to assign case officers to new applications; future plans to bring employees into Australia should account for these timeframes.