The Temporary Work (Skilled) subclass 457 visa program is going to be replaced with a Temporary Skills Shortage visa that will come into effect in March 2018.
James Hyett, partner and registered migration agent at McLean Delmo Bentleys, said that clients in a number of industries will soon be requiring help to navigate the changes.
“The industries most affected by the abolition are those in the hospitality, retail and hair/beauty sectors. These industries rely on skilled workers to fill these gaps in the labour market,” Mr Hyett said.
Mr Hyett said that with the abolishment of the 457 program comes the application of a number of different caveats, which have the potential to significantly impact some businesses.
“There are three classes of caveats relating to work experience, regional locations and some occupation-specific caveats. Surprisingly, this also has application to some managerial and professional occupations,” he said.
“There is also a tight focus on restricting access to the visa program for positions in smaller businesses which have less than $1 million turnover, fewer than five employees, or a nominated base salary of less than $90,000.”
My Hyett said that employers will soon need to assess how the changes will impact their businesses, and may require assistance in doing so.
“In the short-term, employers need to consider whether the immediate change in the occupation list will have any instant effect on their business,” he said.
“This includes any pending applications that are currently lodged, as well as how the business expects to use the 457 visa program in the coming months. In many instances, employers will still be able to sponsor expatriates under the 457 visa program; however, changes to how the business uses the program may need to be implemented.”
The Temporary Skills Shortage visa will have two streams into which a reduced occupation list will be divided: the short-term stream, which will allow for the grant of a visa of up to two years; and the medium-term stream, which will allow for the grant of a visa of up to four years.
Mr Hyett said that employers need to take stock and review the skills required to operate their businesses to distinguish which stream is best for their employees.
“The two-year short-term stream is designed to fill genuine skill gaps with foreign workers on a temporary basis, whereas the four-year medium term stream is designed for a smaller pool of highly skilled and occupations with a critical need for talent,” he said.
“If access to these foreign worker streams is restricted, then alternatives to foreign workers must be explored. Businesses may need to look deeper in the domestic workforce to meet their staffing requirements.”