Government Abolishing the 457 Working Visa: What this Means for You

Malcolm Turnbull Australian Prime Minister

In an apparently sudden and unexpected move, the Turnbull government recently announced it will abolish 457 visas in an effort to increase job opportunities for Australians.

The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) will be replaced by the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa so that businesses can still access skills required through employing skilled migrant workers.

The proposed aim of the new visa will be to better target genuine skills shortages and will have new requirements including work experience.


To meet the skills shortages, the Turnbull government also intends to establish a new training fund to which industry employers will be expected to contribute.

The 457 working visa was introduced in 1996 to enable employers to address labour shortages with skilled migrant workers.

Currently, the 457 visa allows business to sponsor and employ overseas workers for 1-4 years in a designated skilled occupation. Some commentators are viewing the proposal as simply a name change to satisfy the call for “Australians for Australian jobs”.

There are also concerns that too much political focus has been placed on 457 visas without due consideration of other types of visas which allow temporary work rights for foreigners, such as the Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa popular with backpackers.

Those who view the announcement positively believe tighter parameters will prevent industries abusing the 457 working visa which has been criticised as being too accessible.

Those who view the 457 visa as a reason for lack of employment opportunity in Australia also welcome the move, however as at March 2016 the number of skilled migrant workers in Australia was less than 178,000. This figure doesn’t include secondary applicants – such as a dependent of someone in Australia on a skilled migrant visa – who is able to work in a non-skilled position.

The proposed Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa will have two new streams, one valid for two years and one for four years. The four-year visa will require increased English language proficiency, a police check, a market rate salary assessment, and mandatory labour-market testing in the majority of cases. Permanent residency under the two-year visa will not be allowed.

In addition to the visa changes, the skilled occupations list will be reduced. The 200 occupations recently removed from the list of eligible skilled occupations does not include any medical specialists, and concessions for skilled migrant workers in regional Australia will still be available.

Around 8.5% of skilled migrant workers currently in Australia on a 457 visa are working in jobs that will be excluded under the new system which is scheduled to be fully implemented by March 2018.

At this stage, skilled migrant workers currently holding a 457 visa will not be affected by the change. Further information is expected to be available over the next few weeks. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on all the upcoming news here.

For More detailed information about the changes and a list of eligible skilled occupations is available on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website or if you have specific questions, please contact Deanne our in-house registered migration agent.