Australia Abolishes Skilled Expat Workers Visas

This is the bad news for 22% of Indian currently working in Australia on Skilled expat Visas and eyeing permanent residency. The subclass 457 visa category for skilled overseas workers are the most popular route to Australia. This visas are now abolished by the Australian government. Instead, a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa has been introduced from March 18.

There are 90,000-odd holders of the 457 visas, 22% were Indians. The abolished visa was a popular route for Indians headed to work Down Under. Australia has not closed the door for skilled workers and TSS will continue to enable overseas workers to be hired. The major impact for those who are expecting permanent residency. The new norms are restrictive.

Further, new job entrants, including Indian students who have qualified from Australian varsities, may find it more challenging to get a job as a minimum work experience of two years is required. Hiring overseas workers will be comparatively more costly as it is proposed that sponsoring firms must contribute additionally to a skilling fund.

Labour testing norms, aimed at ensuring locals are given the first opportunity for a job vacancy, are expected to be more stringent, even as final rules have not yet been announced. 

A ‘Skilling Australia Fund’ (SAF) Bill is being debated in the Parliament. Once passed, the sponsoring company may need to contribute to the SAF at about Australian $ 1,200 per employee nomination, for each year of the visa tenure. So if a company wants to hire an expat software engineer for four years, they may have to pay a levy of Australian $ 4,800.

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