Hire local seems to be the trend everywhere. Keeping this in mind, Australia has announced the abolishment of the 457 visa program. This will now be replaced by TSS (Temporary Skills Shortage) This affects a number of people, especially Indians planning on immigrating to Australia as the 457 visa was one of the most popular visa programs.
The 457 Visa Program
The 457 visa allowed applicants and their immediate family to live and work in Australia. There was no cap on the number of visas granted through this program. This visa was valid for up to 4 years after which the immigrant could apply for permanent residency. To apply for this visa, the applicant needed to be employed by a company listed on the Australian Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL).
Criticism of the 457 Visa Program
The main criticism against the 457 program was its accessibility. This was because there was no cap on the number of visas that could be granted through this program and the eligibility criteria for the program was relatively easy to meet. As a result, Australians felt that they were losing out on job opportunities.
Some audits also talked about how immigrant workers who held 457 visas were no longer employed by the companies that sponsored their visa and were being paid below minimum wages.
Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa Program
The 457 visa program has been replaced by the TSS visa program. This is the result of a reform process that began in 2017. It has been designed to address temporary skill shortages with the help of overseas talent without compromising on job opportunities for Australian workers. Under this program, visas may be granted through two streams; short-term stream and the medium-term stream.
Applicants with temporary jobs in occupations listed on the short-term skilled occupation list (STSOL) may be sponsored by their employers for 2-year visas under the short-term stream. If an International Trade Obligation is applicable, the visa may be held valid for 4 years. The STSOL has also been trimmed with approximately 200 jobs removed from the list in the two-year stream.
Applicants employed in occupations listed on the MLTSSL (Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List) may be sponsored by their employers for a TSS visa in the medium term stream. This visa will be valid for up to 4 years. If the employer and the home department make a labor agreement, overseas workers may be sponsored for TSS visas in a long-term stream.
TSS visas granted via the short term stream will not make the applicant eligible for permanent residency automatically. However, applicants with medium-term TSS visas, after three years, will be eligible for permanent residency.
In addition to these changes, the eligibility criteria for the TSS visa program have also been made stricter than that of the 457 visa program. The changes introduced include improved English language requirements, minimum 2 years work experience and a mandatory criminal check. Employers sponsoring overseas workers now will also have to provide enhanced training for Australians in high-need occupations and industries.