BeanScene Magazine

Impact of 457 Visa abolition on Australia’s hospitality industry

From the April 2017 issue.

This week the Federal government announced plans to abolish the 457 Visa program and replace it with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa.

According to the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the new TSS visa program will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years, which will “support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce” and will contain a number of safeguards, which prioritise Australian workers.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton MP, says the reforms will ensure applicants are competent in English, have been a permanent resident for at least four years, commit to embracing Australian values, and can show evidence of integrating into the Australian community.

The reforms will limit the number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship test to three (at present there is no limit), and introduce an automatic fail for applicants who cheat during the citizenship test.

The implementation of these reforms will begin immediately and will be completed in March 2018.

Currently, the 457 is a four-year visa that allows foreign workers to access jobs in more than 650 occupations. Under the new scheme, the Government plans to condense this list of eligible occupations to 435, with 216 occupations removed and access to 59 other occupations restricted.

Data from the federal government shows the hospitality industry is heavily dependent of skilled workers to fill gaps in the local labour market, with cooks considered the largest occupation class in the 457 visa program, with 760 applications granted from September 2015 up to September 2016. A total of 550 visa applications for cafés or restaurant managers were also granted in the same timeframe.

Restaurant & Catering Australia estimates demand for a further 28,000 cooks and chefs across Australia over the next four years.

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, as of June 30, 2016 there were 94,890 primary 457 visa holders in Australia. This means the total number of primary 457 visa holders who are sponsored by an employer is equal to less than 1 per cent of the Australian labour market. This proportion, however, rises if international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants are included.

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