People confused about Australian temporary visa changes urged to seek advice

by Ray Clancy on April 26, 2017

in Australia Immigration, Jobs in Australia

People in Australia who believe they are affected by the decision to abolish the 457 visa are being urged to take advice, but it might take some time to get it.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has confirmed that workers from abroad already in Australia are not affected by the changes and the new visa stream will be introduced in March 2018.

But those hoping to use the 457 stream need to educate themselves, as it has been replaced with a new two-year and four-year visa called the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa. While employers are still able to sponsor overseas workers on a 457 visa, the number of occupations available for sponsorship have been reduced from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed from the list and access to a further 59 restricted.

It means that those with applications in place may find that they no longer qualify for certain occupations although employers have pointed out that there will still be plenty of jobs for overseas skilled professionals and they should not be put off applying for a visa or for an employer sponsored programme.

The advice from the DIBP is to be aware of the changes and to contact them about what they mean. Although the department has also admitted that it is currently inundated with enquiries as a result of the surprise announcement by the Government last week.

The DIBP is also being swamped by enquiries about changes to the Australian citizenship process with tighter measures also announced last week by the Government with the biggest change a four-year wait as a permanent resident to qualify rather than the previous one year period.

‘Since the announcements from the Government last week, the department has seen a significant rise of inquiries to its service centre. This spike in call volumes resulted in delays for clients calling the department’s service centre,’ said a DIBP spokesman.

According to Henry Sherrell, an immigration researcher at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy and a former DIBP employee, said it was unsurprising. ‘There’s not much information available so a lot of people are concerned and confused,’ he pointed out.

With the details of the new TSS visa programme still be to be revealed some sectors are concerned that the change will have a major impact. The Australian Hotels Association is one and has called on the Government to ensure that the needs of the hospitality industry are met within the new visa programme.

‘The hospitality industry is growing at unprecedented rates at the present and the demand for skilled labour is at all-time highs with this complete transformation of Australia’s hotel industry,” said AHA chief executive officer Stephen Ferguson.

Indeed, the Government’s own Australian Tourism Labour Force Report estimated that the tourism and hospitality sector will require an additional 123,000 workers by 2020, including 60,000 skilled positions.

Racing Australia has also voiced concerns about the impact of the change. According to chief executive Barry O’Farrell there have been skill shortages in the industry for years with employers unable to attract and retain qualified Australian staff.

‘As a result, they’ve been forced to look overseas for those critical, skilled roles from trackwork riders, to trainers, strappers, stable hands and stallion managers,’ he explained, adding that the number of staff on 457 visas in bigger stables range from 20% to 70%.

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