The Australian Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa to commence in March 2018.

Originally introduced by the Howard government in 1996, the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa 457 is being abolished and replaced in a bid to significantly address unemployment in Australia.

The Prime Minister said, “jobs must go to Australians first, before businesses consider hiring foreign workers to ensure that Australian jobs are filled by Australians wherever possible”. Mr Turnbull said while Australia was multicultural, it needed to focus on local jobs first and foremost.

Replacing the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa which will include two streams:

  1. The Short-Term stream is designed for Australian businesses to fill skill gaps with foreign workers on a temporary basis, where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced
  2. The Medium-Term stream will allow employers to source foreign workers to address shortages in a narrower range of high skill and critical need occupations, where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced

Tighter restrictions and requirements have been introduced across the board for the new TSS:

Both streams will include mandatory labour market testing with limited exemptions, a new non-discriminatory workforce test, mandatory criminal history checks, a market salary rate assessment and a new two-year work experience requirement. There will also be more stringent English proficiency language requirements for the Medium-Term stream.

Pathways to permanent residency under the new scheme are also much more restricted. Previously, 457 visa holders could be eligible for permanent residency after two years which is now no longer possible on the Short-Term stream, and the four-year visa holders (Medium-Term) will only be eligible for permanent residence after three years, instead of two.

More than 200 jobs have been cut from the List of Occupations that foreign workers can apply for under the new scheme which previously listed 650 types of roles.

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