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2017-04-21

Australia 457 visa

Government abolishes 457 visas - but problems remain

The 457 visa system is to be scrapped and replaced with a new two-tiered system which the Turnbull government says will help ensure that “Australian jobs will be filled by Australians, wherever possible”. 

But unions have warned that key weaknesses in the temporary skilled migration system remain. 

Under the new arrangements announced on 18 April:

  • The current 457 visas scheme will be abolished.
  • The new scheme will create a 2 year temporary visa designed to target critical skill shortage areas. Applicants will have to have previous work experience.
  • About one third (200) of current job classifications will be removed from the temporary visa list, including several in the telecommunications sector.
  • A 4 year visa will also be available, but applicants will require higher English language skills and be subject to a criminal check.
  • Both visas will be subject to labour market testing (ie seeking local workers first) and a requirement to pay market rates. 

The government’s move comes with an admission that the current system has been totally discredited by evidence of employer rorts and worker exploitation. But the union movement has warned that tighter controls will be needed to stop such employer behaviour. 

In particular, “market testing” ie the identification of skill gaps will still rely too much on employers themselves and is hard for government to monitor. 

Unions have also pointed out that some of the worst recent examples of temporary worker exploitation have involved people on student and working holiday visas, not just 457s.

“Unions want to see a full tripartite review mechanism for work visas and rigorous labour market testing," ACTU President Ged Kearney said.

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