Employment and Migration Blog

The great 457 debate

Posted by Lisa Qiu on 9 Mar 2017

Last year, Minister for Immigration, The Hon Peter Dutton MP, received backlash for his statement that refugees would be taking Australian jobs. This same sentiment was echoed by Trump when he spoke of immigrants taking American jobs. And free movement of people has been a significant issue in Brexit and in Europe generally.

It seems that protectionism is sweeping the globe as governments worldwide seek to strengthen borders and introduce tougher migration laws.

In Australia, both the Coalition and the Labor Party are pushing for changes to the current 457 visa scheme. These changes include reducing the period of days in which a 457 visa holder has to find new employment, if their original employment comes to an end, from 90 days to 60 days, and also proposed changes to reduce the list of occupations available for nomination under the 457 visa scheme. 

On the one hand, these changes will allegedly assist Australian workers in finding employment as competition for Australian jobs is reduced. On the other hand, these changes could make it more difficult for employers to find the skilled workers that they need. Hence the great 457 debate – should Australia increase or maintain current levels for 457 visas so as to increase and stimulate domestic growth, or should Australia decrease the number of 457 visas issued by tightening requirements, in order to protect Australian jobs? 

The push to tighten the 457 regime appears to originate from two main concerns:

  1. That migrants take Australian jobs, leaving more Australians unemployed; and,
  2. That the 457 visa scheme is used to exploit vulnerable migrant workers. 

These concerns have seen a marked increase in efforts by the Fair Work Ombudsman to prevent and penalise the exploitation of vulnerable workers, but has also resulted in many employers who are unable to find Australian workers to fill a particular role, having their 457 applications knocked back by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). 

The process to employ a migrant worker on a 457 visa and then to sponsor that employee to remain in Australia after their 457 visa expires, by sponsoring them for an Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)(subclass 186) permanent visa, is not straightforward. 

The stringent and changing requirements, together with an increasingly hostile political climate, mean that unknowing employers who genuinely have a need for a 457 employee, could have their 457 nomination applications refused for being unaware of the requirements. It’s therefore important to understand the process before you begin, and to get it right the first time. 

If you need assistance with a 457 sponsorship, nomination or visa application, contact our Registered Migration Agent in our Employment and Business Migration team: