“We are abolishing 457 visas”

The visas that brings temporary foreign workers into Australia will be abolished, the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull announced today via a video message posted on Facebook.

The 457 visa will be replaced by “a new temporary visa, specifically designed to recruit the best and the brightest in the national interest.”

The Prime Minister recognized the importance for businesses to be able to access the skills they needed to grow and invest, saying “the new visa will better target genuine skills shortages, including in regional Australia”.

Mr Turnbull said the new visa will include new requirements, including “previous work experience, better English language proficiency and labour market testing.” How the requirements for the new visa will differ from the existing 457 visa is unclear.

The existing 457 visa already requires a description of previous work experience that is supported by reference checks with past employers. In addition, applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate their English language proficiency by meeting standards set by International English Language Testing System (IELTS) tests.

Meanwhile employers already have to perform labour market testing and show the efforts they have made to fill the vacancy with an Australian worker before looking to fill their skill shortage by sponsoring an overseas skilled worker.

The Prime Minister added “to help train Australians to fill skills gaps, we will also establish a new training fund.” At the moment, Australian employers looking to sponsor a candidate for a 457 visa must show their commitment to upskilling their workforce by meeting one of two training investment benchmarks. Employers must either show an ongoing spend on apprentices, graduate trainees or other training for staff or they must invest 2 per cent of their payroll expenditure into a recognized industry training fund.

The Prime Minister confirmed he’ll have more to say about this in coming days and weeks. “As with so much to do with Australian migration, the devil will be in the detail,” said Greg Nicolson, Managing Director of Australian Business Migration Group.  “We look forward to seeing further information on this matter. Its important that Australia’s small to medium-sized businesses, their employees and their families get clarity on this subject as soon as possible.”