457 VISA REFORM…deterring foreign skilled workers?

In April this year, the federal government announced reforms to the 457 visa program – for temporary skilled workers.

Despite the relatively small size of the program (as a percentage of Australia’s workforce), a blog post recently published by job site indeed.com, suggests that the ‘negative perception of the reforms may prove more harmful than the direct effects of the policy changes themselves.’

Here, we look at what the reform entails, and how the numbers stack up. Read on….


…deterring foreign skilled workers?


As of March 2018, the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS)

narrowing eligibility

Key reforms:

  • more targeted occupation lists
  • tightened English language requirements
  • applicants must be under the maximum age requirement of 45 at the time of application
  • applicants to have at least two years’ work experience in their skilled occupation

In March 2017 there were 95,360 primary 457 visa holders in Australia.

the purpose

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the new TSS 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…’


  • in 2016 24,270 Primary 457 visa applications were granted
  • Primary 457 visa holders account for 0.8% of the Australian workforce
  • top 3 sponsored industries in 2016:
    • 16.1% – Professional, Scientific & Technical
    • 14.1% – Information Media & Telecommunications
    • 13.1% – Accommodation & Food Services
  • top 3 nominated locations for granted primary visas:
    • 47% – NSW
    • 25% – Vic
    • 12% – Qld
    • 17% – Other States
  • top 3 citizenship countries for granted primary visas:
    • 22.5% – India
    • 18.7% – United Kingdom
    • 6.2% – Philippines


Since the announcement in April, clicks on indeed.com Australian job postings from outside Australia have decreased by 10% between April and June.

‘The high-profile nature of 457 reform may discourage foreign job seekers even in occupations that aren’t directly affected.’ – indeed

  • reforms to the 457 visa program have banned almost 200 occupations from the visa application process
  • the 45 year age limit is predicted to reduce the number of annual 457 visa applications by 6-8%; AND
  • the ban placed on almost 200 occupations should reduce the number of 457 visa granted by 7-9% (based on historical trends)


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