Visa Programme for Skilled Workers

Summary prepared by Jarmila Zaricka (Board Member, German Australian Business Council):

In April 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the abolition of the temporary foreign skilled worker scheme (referred to as ‘457’) that was introduced in 1996.

The ‘457’ visa programme allowed skilled foreigners to work in Australia for up to four years.

Under this programme, 96,000 foreigners of the country’s 12 million labour force work in Australia.

The majority of the workers are from India, Great Britain and China – in the IT, scientific and hospitality sectors.

The motivation for abolishing the ‘457’ visa programme has been expressed as the aim to give priority to Australian workers for Australian jobs.

Australia’s unemployment rate sits today at 5.9%. The OECD average represents 6.2%.

The ‘457’ visa programme is foreseen to be replaced with new visas specifically targeting skills shortages outside the main cities. In addition, under the planned new scheme, English language requirements for migrants would be boosted. Requirements for previous work experience would also be introduced. Details are yet to be revealed.

Current holders of ‘457’ visas would be unaffected by the changes and could continue to work in Australia under the conditions of that visa.