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457 Visa Changes: Practical Tips

Written By Lauren Slack
Fri, May 5, 2017
Lauren Slack

On 18 April the Prime Minister announced a new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa set to replace the 457 visa in March 2018.  In the interim, the 457 visa program continues to operate, but under different rules.  Some rules were changed with immediate effect. Others are due to be introduced in July and in December, with final changes in March 2018.

Aspects of the changes you need to know

Immediate changes included:

  • a reduction in the number of occupations that can be sponsored for a 457 visa. 
  • remaining occupations were put into two new occupation lists –  a Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and a Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
  • occupations on the STSOL will be limited to 2-year 457 visas
  • occupations on the MLTSSL will still able to access 4-year 457 visas
  • the ability to transition from a 457 visa to a 186 Employer Nomination permanent residency visa will be restricted in stages and eventually limited to occupations on the MLTSSL
  • new caveats apply to some occupations on the STSOL, which mean special rules restrict circumstances under which they can be sponsored for 457 visas
  • the Age, English and Work criteria for 186 visas will be tightened


The changes do not affect the ability of a 457 visa holder to remain working in Australia on their current visa.  The changes will affect their ability to obtain a further 457 visa, however, if their occupation is one of those that has been removed from the 457 visa program. They may also raise personal issues for 457 visa holders whose plans for permanent residency appear to be disrupted. 

It makes sense to seek professional advice when dealing with a specific situation, but by way of general advice, the following practical tips may help:

  • 457 visa holders who have worked more than 2 years can lodge an application for permanent residency under a Subclass 186 visa prior to 30 June through the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) application stream (the existing legislative criteria for this visa continue to apply)
  • 457 visa holders who will have worked more than 2 years with their employers 1 July and prior to March 2018 can lodge permanent visas (186 TRT) with their employer’s consent. (but it is expected a new an IELTS 6.0 minimum will be introduced)
  • Individuals can apply for a Direct Entry (DE) Subclass 186 based on the rules in force in the lead up to March 2018


Please note – Information from the immigration department at this stage suggests that the rules in force on the day an application for permanent residency is made will be the rules under which the application will be decided – in other words, that an ENS or RSMS visa application will not be disadvantaged by any of rule changes made after the application is lodged.  However, formal confirmation of this may only be possible when the new ENS and RSMS regulations are written. 

For companies that are already 457 visa sponsors, the removed occupations, the new caveats and the limitations being put on the transition to permanent residency are all changes that may alter the way they use visa sponsorship going forward.

For visa sponsors or individuals affected by the changes, please contact TSS Immigration for a consultation in relation to understanding your options.

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