457 visas abolished: what it means for the MIA

What is a 457 visa? 

A visa that allows skilled foreign workers to live and work in Australia for up to 4 years. They must be sponsored by a business who proves they couldn’t fill the vacancy with an Australian. To get a four year visa, their job must be on a government list of occupations deemed difficult to fill by local workers.

Most people granted 457 visas are highly skilled, employed as professionals, managers and technicians/tradesmen (see Figure 1). 

What is being changed? 

The 457 visa is to be abolished, and replaced by separate two and four-year visas that will be more expensive and harder to get.

  • 180 occupations have been deleted from the list – meaning people in those professions will no longer be eligible for four year visas.
  • Those on the new visas will not be able to apply for permanent residency, as they could under the 457 visa system.
  • The cost for employers to sponsor the visa holders will increase.The two year visa will cost $1,150 and the four-year cost $2,400 - compared to the $1,060 the 457 visa. 
  • Visa applicants will now need to have at least two years experience in their job category.
  • There will be strengthened training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers.
  • There will be stricter English language test requirements.

Are many of the occupations deleted from the list common in the MIA?

Most of the occupations deleted from the list do not appear to be major contributors to the MIA labour force. 

A number of agricultural jobs – such as shearers, wool turners, wool classers, wool buyers and goat farmers – have been deleted from the list. 

While these jobs exist in farms across the MIA, Area News spoke to a number of farmers and could not find any who have recruited people on 457 visas to fill vacancies in these fields.

It is in fact more common for these skills to be exported from the MIA to other countries.

A number of occupations deleted from the list such as food technologist, web developer, market research analyst, legal executive and sales representatives are increasing in prevalence across the MIA.

How will it impact on businesses in the MIA?

Area News has received mixed views from businesses in the MIA on the impact of this change. 

Most who spoke to us said they have never hired someone on a 457 visa, and if recruiting foreigners – are more likely to seek out less skilled workers on other visa categories. 

However, farmers and other entrepreneurs have complained about how difficult it is to get tradesmen and professionals for repairs and upgrades to their businessman, and are concerned about further restrictions and disincentives on skilled work in the region. 

Will it help local job seekers in the MIA? 

The unemployment rate in Griffith is currently 4 per cent, which is lower than the national rate of 6 per cent.

An unemployment rate below 5 per cent is considered to be full employment, so there appears little scope to boost job prospects among the local population. 

The new visa system will include a “strengthened training requirement for employers to contribute towards training Australian workers,” which may mean that businesses will have to invest more in upskilling locals.

But as yet there is no detail of what this requirement entails. 

How will foreign workers in the MIA currently holding a 457 visa be impacted?  

There will be no change for anyone currently holding a 457 visa – conditions for these workers will be grandfathered.