LEGISLATIVE CHANGES – ABOLITION AND REPLACEMENT OF THE 457 VISA AND REFORM OF THE CITIZENSHIP PROCESS
On 18 April 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) was abolished and replaced by two new streams (a 2 year and a 4 year) of the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (TSS).
Further to this announcement, on 20 April 2017, the Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, announced the citizenship process reform.
The MIA was not given prior notice of these changes and consequently was not able to prepare to handle the commotion and anxiety they have caused to Migration Agents and their clients.
Whilst the MIA awaits the details of the amended legislation we will continue to provide updates and support to our members on the changes.
Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa
The changes announced by the Government regarding the abolition and replacement of 457 visa are largely a rebranding exercise since temporary work visas (through the TSS) are still available to businesses in Australia, however, they will be scrutinised slightly more than the existing 457 visa.
Approved occupations list
In addition, the Government has amended the approved occupations list, following analysis of available statistics on Australian unemployment, to remove occupations that are believed to be able to be filled by Australian workers. It is important to note that critical roles with a shortage of available Australian employees, remain on the approved occupations list and that Australia still needs temporary foreign workers.
These changes are designed to support businesses in addressing skill shortages in their workforce and provide safeguards that prioritise Australian workers.
What does this mean for existing 457 visa holders?
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, has confirmed that existing 457 visa holders will be unaffected by these changes.
What do the changes mean for current 457 visa applicants?
DIBP has committed to refunding the application fee for applicants who are currently applying for 457 visas, however, this doesn’t take into consideration the potential fees these people have paid to Migration Agents to process their visa applications.
Reform of citizenship process
The Turnbull Government is redrafting Australia’s citizenship laws to ensure applicants are held to a higher standard. These changes were made based on the feedback received from the 2016 Productivity Commission Report: Migrant Intake Into Australia and the National Consultation on Citizenship, conducted by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and the Hon Philip Ruddock MP in 2015.
- The proposed reforms include:
- Applicants passing a higher-standard English test;
- Applicants to have lived as a permanent resident of Australia for a minimum of four years (instead of the current one year requirement);
- The citizenship test being amended to include more meaningful questions that assess an applicant’s understanding of and commitment to Australian values;
- Applicants being required to integrate into the Australian community, e.g. employment, being a member of a community organisation and school enrolment (for eligible children);
- Applicants who fail three attempts at the citizenship test have a two-year ban on applying for citizenship (currently there is no limit to the number of times an applicant can fail the test); and
- Applicants who attempt to cheat during the citizenship test receiving an automatic fail.
The above amended requirements will apply to all new Australian citizenship applicants.
Source: MIA – Media Release, 21 April 2017