On the 19 April, 2017, the federal government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa (Subclass 457) will be abolished and replaced with a completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

That doesn’t mean that 457s have ended, they haven’t ended at all and you can still apply for one today if you and any incoming employer meet the prevailing requirements.

In that regard, whilst there has been a lot of noise around what has happened to UC 457s, what we only know for certain at this point is that a new legislative instrument has been introduced which curtails the number of occupations capable of being accessed under this program.

What is most interesting about these changes is also the introduction of the concept of employment specific requirements for each occupation. This is fine in one sense but some of the rationale behind why this has been done does not really stack up.

The problem we also have with it is that some of the terminology used in the new instrument isn’t really consistent with what’s used in the regulations so yes that might give us more to work with but it’s not a great exercise in parliamentary draftsmanship.

So on the new visa coming in 2018, what we are told is that the new visa is going to be harder to obtain with new, more targeted (read dramatically shortened) occupation lists and more difficult and more onerous requirements.

Again it’s really difficult and in fact impossible to advise on the basis of a press release and without seeing legislation to come, but in a very general sense if there is scope to proceed now with something else despite the changes which effect and will eventually abolish UC 457s it could be sensible to consider doing so.

In addition to the above changes, what we have been told is that coming on 1 July 2017 and beyond to certain permanent applications is amongst other things:

  • English language requirements will be tightened.
  • Applicants in some cases must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application.

What happens if I am already on a 457 visa or have applied for one?

If you are on a UC 457 you are not affected for now although it would be sensible to seek advice on whether you need to exercise options before any further changes happen.

If you have an application in the pipeline, then you could already be affected notwithstanding the change occurring post application. This is because how the legislation is designed refers to the concept of the validity of legislative instruments being in place at the time of decision.

 If you think you are affected or might be, it’s always a good idea to get some advice on your situation as the whole area has become a good deal more complex.

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