On 18 April 2017, the Government announced that the Temporary Work visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.
The TSS visa programme will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.
This new visa is part of the Government’s significant reform package to strengthen the integrity and quality of Australia’s temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled migration programmes.
Questions have now been raised regarding how the development industry will be affected, as the time and finance required to obtain and pay skilled Australian construction workers may see a drop in growth due to the amount of visas granted in this sector.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Department of Immigration revealed that in 2016 around 548 visas in Australia were granted in the real estate and rental area, and 5,618 were granted in the construction sector,
According to the Australian Government, key reforms to 457 visas will introduce the temporary skill shortage visa with new requirements, including but not limited to:
- New, more targeted occupation lists which better align with skill needs in the Australian labour market
- A requirement for visa applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation
- A minimum market salary rate which ensures that overseas workers cannot be engaged to undercut Australian workers
- Mandatory labour market testing, unless an international obligation applies,
- Capacity for only one onshore visa renewal under the Short-Term stream
- Capacity for visa renewal onshore and a permanent residence pathway after three years under the Medium-Term stream
- The permanent residence eligibility period will be extended from two to three years
- A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers
- Strengthened requirement for employers to contribute to training Australian workers
- The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will collect Tax File Numbers and data will be matched with the Australian Tax Office’s records, and
- Mandatory penal clearance certificates to be provided.
The announcement was received with mixed opinions, with some interest groups saying the restructuring of the temporary skilled migration program will help build public confidence while other said there is a danger that we will be short of labour, particularly in regional areas in a seasonal situation like far north Queensland, according to The Daily Telegraph.