Global companies working in Australia and even top restaurants are already planning ahead for changes to the visa system which will have an impact on how many foreign workers they can employ in the country.

When the current 457 visa is abolished in March next year a large number of businesses believe that they will find it hard to attract top talent as the replacement two visas will not have the same benefits in terms of staying permanently in Australia.


(Wavebreak Media Ltd/Bigstock.com)​

Currently the 457 visa is the most popular route for both employers and employees in skilled professions to be able to work in Australia as it allows them to remain for four years and to move towards permanent residency should they wish to make a life in the country.

The 457 is being replaced by two short term visas with no permanent residency option and a large number of the current occupations eligible for this visa stream will be taken off the visa list.

IT consultancy Capgemini, which has its headquarters in Paris and has offices around the world, has revealed that the 457 visa changes are presenting it with challenges in terms of bringing new talent to its business in Australia.

'We are going to set up a specific programme to bring people into Australia and we will look to make it simpler to accommodate for the changes to the 457 visa programme,' said Nicolas Aidoud, head of CapGemini's Australia and New Zealand arm, adding that a shortage of skilled personnel is the major issue for Capgemini as it looks to expand in Australia.

Some of Australia's top restaurateurs are warning their businesses are being put at risk due to an extreme skills shortage in hospitality that is being exacerbated by the visa programme changes.

The hospitality industry relies on foreign workers to fill certain roles, everything from a French pastry chef to a specialist in sake. For example, celebrity chef Neil Perry has about 3,000 staff across dozens of restaurants of which around a third are on some kind of temporary work or student visa.

He has spoken about how workers on 457 visas are very important for the restaurant industry because there are skills that need to be brought in from abroad. While he has always sought to employ Australian staff, it hasn't always been possible to find the right skillset.

The 457 visa has become to be regarded as a quick and easy fix for employers but immigration agents and experts point out that is not the case. On average it costs around $5,000 to bring in a worker from overseas on a 457 visas with an extensive application process that can take months.

Critics have pointed out that as the changes remove the pathway to permanent residency potential employees, especially those with families will be more reluctant to move tens of thousands of miles to a new country, thus reducing the pool of talent willing to work in Australia if there is no chance of them becoming permanent residents should they want to be.

Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia, said that the hospitality industry is already facing skills shortages and the abolition of the 457 visa programme will make it worse. She explained that it is projected that there will be a skills shortage of 120,000 by 2020 of workers within the hospitality and tourism industries.

'The 457 visa is a temporary visa and has never provided a guaranteed permanent resident outcome. Current subclass 457 visa holders can continue to hold their visa until its expiry and will not be affected by the changes unless they apply for a further subclass 457 visa or change employers,' said a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).