On April 17, 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the 457 visa category was abolished. 457 visa class was brought by Howard government in 1996. It allowed skilled overseas workers to fill jobs in Australia.
Now, 457 visa class is going to be replaced with two new visas. There is a two-year visa and a four-year visa which is targeted at Professors and experts with high-level skills. Both visas require at least two-years working experience, police background checks, labour market testing and higher standards of English. At the same time, 216 occupations have been cut from the list of occupations which means these are no longer eligible for skilled migration visa.
Axing the 457 class can encourage Australian companies to more rely on local workers and give Australian employees priority in job hunting market. However, a crackdown on 457 visas is hostile to those 457 visa holders. In Australia, 457 visa holders are more than 95,000. The policy is going to affect their future career prospects. Besides, these changes to 457 visas will bring adverse impact on the Australian capacity to attract more skilled people and international students who tend to seek permanent residency. It also harms the businesses rely on foreigner workers especially many multinational corporations.
“The axing of the controversial program represents a trend of narrowing the number of workers from overseas market.”
Jessie Wang has worked for an immigrant agency, New Field, in Sydney since 2012. She has helped more than 30 foreigners find their satisfying job in Australia. Most of them come from China.
“Many companies which have a large employer of skilled foreign workers such as the big four accounting and advisory need rethink to train local employees and develop their specialised skills. The investment will be heavy.” Jessie Wang said.
She also argued IT industry will face problems too due to those changes. It is difficult for a number of companies to find available local workers who can fill some senior tech jobs.“Besides, the 457 changes put more pressure on Australian farming industry. It seems impossible that the farming rely on local workers. The Australian government should consider the capacity to hire overseas workers. ”Jessie Wang said.
“The crackdown on 457 visas scared me.”
Aaron Lin who comes from China works as the product designer in Noble architectural company in Sydney on a 457 visa. This is his seventh year in Australia. After studying five years in Sydney, he started working last year.
Aaron said, “it is going to influence my family together and my planned future.” Aaron Lin got married with a Chinese woman in 2016. His wife and their baby planned to come to Sydney when Aaron becomes Australian permanent resident.
However, Aaron found it seemed impossible for him to get a permanent Australian visa as his job has been cut from the list of occupations.“I have been in Australia for seven years,” he said, “I love this country very much. However, maybe I came at a wrong time.” Aaron also said that he believes the 457 changes are likely to encourage the Australian people to work. However, the higher salary of local workers will incur a larger budget. Some companies will not welcome the changes.
“At the same time, there are not enough appropriate employees to fill the many positions. It is difficult to find people in my role who knows Chinese marketing so well. I can say in the long term, the changes do nothing but harm Australian marketing and economy.” Aaron said.
Yingying Xie arrived in Sydney in 2015. This Chinese student is doing her master degree in professional accounting in the University of Sydney. She is going to graduate in 2018.“These changes do not directly affect international students as 457 visas were designed to employ skilled foreign workers for Australian workspace. Post-Study Work stream allows overseas students to work in Australia temporarily after their graduation. Yingying Xie said. Under Post-Study Work stream, she can hold a visa with a period of two years.
“It still makes me worried because I don’t know what will happen to me in the future.”
“It is obvious that international students spend the most money in this country. We contribute a lot but sometimes we are unfairly treated.”
She said, “The policies are changing fast. Maybe when I graduate, Post-Study Work stream will be slashed. I will have no choice but getting back home which means all of the time and money put into overseas education are to be scrapped. “Yingying Xie is also warning 457 changes harms Australian ability to attract international students, especially some are seeking permanent residency. She said, “All the international students are feeling uncertain or unsettle about their future in Australia.”
Crystal Liu who comes from China is working for a law office in Sydney as a part time job. She is holding a one-year working holiday visa. “I am satisfied with my current job and my boss also admire for my good job performance.”
“I was going to apply for 457 visa when my working holiday ends. It is the last available pathway for me to continue my life here, but now, I am expected to leave this country,” she said.
“I do respect Australian priority and value. However, I do not think those changes are good for Australian labour market.”
She argued the Australian government should reconsider the global talent strategy which plays more and more significant role nowadays.
I do not think the crackdown on 457 visas is a wise choice. Limiting the number of jobs foreign workers can apply for maybe not a push to put Australian workers first but may harm the business in Australia. That Australia turns out to be a magnet for talent is a long-term boost to Australian society and economy. At the same time, the changes decrease public confidence in Australia’s immigration and visa systems. The effectiveness of the changes should be reconsidered.