Is this the end of the 457 visa?

In a nut-shell


  • There was a lot of panic at the end of 2016 as the media reported the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in an interview that he was going to reduce the number of occupations eligible for the 457 sponsorship visa dramatically.
  • There was panic specially from the hospitality industry when rumours started circulating that Chefs and Cafe/Restaurant Managers would be targeted and removed from the list of occupations eligible for the visa, along with Marketing and IT roles.
  • The facts: The Minister was talking about skilled migration in general and the skill shortages that Australia experiences. He also said that the government is looking at the occupation list, but he did not say occupations will be removed for sure from any list and did not say anything about Cook, Chefs and Restaurant Managers.


Scroll to the end of the article to download a nifty 457 VISA FACT-SHEET that sums up the legislative requirements for this visa. And you can also read our article in detail below if you have time:


A lot of people have already accepted that changes to the 457 program are coming. We have even had e-mails from clients asking us what to do as some occupations will “certainly be removed from the 457 program”.


It is good advice to be very careful about what the government says in the media when it comes the 457 visa, as this visa is used as a political card a lot. Sometimes the feeling we have is that the government just talks about this visa because it is under pressure to do so and they have to come up with stuff to say.


It was certainly the feeling we had after reading the transcript of this interview.


Furthermore, the media loves talking about the 457 visa. We believe it is because a good chunk of the general public knows about it and what it is, in comparison to most people not knowing much about the other hundreds of visa that constitute the migration program, so the 457 visa becomes an attractive topic to journalists looking for readers.


The result however is that a lot of the articles are not properly researched and end up waffling on about the 457 visa and don’t contain facts.


The media many times treat the 457 visa as evil, and make it look like there are millions of 457 visa holders out there, when, in truth, and in accordance with the Department of Immigration numbers, there are not that many 457 visa holders out there.




There are 94,890 people in Australia now holding this visa, and this number includes family members, so if a worker gets the visa and his wife and 5 kids also get it, they have been accounted for in this number. You can see the stats for yourself here.


The whole panic started when the ABC wrote an article talking about an interview that the Minister of Immigration, Peter Dutton, gave to SkyNews. Then the journalists at SBS wrote an article about the ABC article and it all went viral.


In the ABC article they say that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton “has indicated the Government will cut the list of occupations for which skilled migrant visas are available.”


I decided to found the facts. What did the Minister really say?




Here is an excerpt of the transcript of the interview with SkyNews (not of the article written about the article about the interview!!!!) and what the Minister really said:


Question from Journalist:


How regularly is the list of what constitutes skilled migration that we need in this country updated and looked at? So, for example, I know at the moment it includes teachers, yet we have a surplus of people studying education at universities, many of whom can’t find jobs as teachers when they finish. I mean, is this looked at closely enough do you think or is that something that could be done a little more closely?




Peter it’s topical. So we’re having a look at it right now and I think it will be condensed. When Chris Bowen was in the Gillard Government, as a Minister in the Gillard Government, it was expanded out quite dramatically and the difficulty of course is to try and get the balance right.


So in some parts of the country it is very difficult to get a particular worker, say in hospitality or a doctor, whatever the classification might be, but in other parts of the country there is an abundance, you’re right, and most people will want to work in capital cities or close to capital cities. It is very hard to get people in regional areas; some regional areas, where there’s been a mining downturn, it’s very hard to fill vacancies and there’s no demand for people because Australian workers will fill those jobs.


So it’s a different picture across the country and we need to respond accordingly. That’s the nuance that we try and provide for, but I think the list at the moment is expansive and I think we’ll condense it and that work has already been under way for some time and we’ll have a look at that very soon.


You can read the transcript of the whole interview here. So let’s now look at some key points here:


• So we’re having a look at it right now and I think it will be condensed.


“I think” it will be condensed, not “it will for sure 100 percent be condensed.


Plus: he is not saying which occupations will be removed from the list, if the list does get condensed in the end.


So what the ABC and the SBS articles did, was create panic by association as they wrote that the list will be condensed, while at the same time publishing a graph with the top 5 occupations for 457 Sponsorship Visas.


These occupations are Cook, Café Manager, Marketing Specialist, Chef and Developer Programmer.


Mind you, their data is from June 2015, so it may also be outdated.


So people in those occupations are understandably freaking out, but please don’t freak out (yet). The Minister didn’t say he would remove those occupations – see the transcript above again.


• …the Gillard Government. … it (the list) was expanded out quite dramatically


Another bit of his interview I think should be discussed, because, sorry Minister but that is not accurate. There were changes to the list but it was not “dramatically expanded”.


If he is talking about the right list, then he is talking about the CSOL, which is the relevant list for the purposes of the 457 Sponsorship Visa but the information that the list was expanded is not accurate – it seems even the minister is really good at waffling on too.


See the whole current list here.


• I think the list at the moment is expansive and I think we’ll condense it and that work has already been under way for some time and we’ll have a look at that very soon.


Can you see how vague this is? It could mean anything. So not need to panic.


Even though no one can know by now what is going to happen (the government may really be already working into cutting the list short) it may also be just political talk and a means for the Minister to attack the Opposition, who is indeed asking for restrictions to the 457 program.


But keep in mind as well that, even though the Opposition is asking for restrictions, it was them who granted way more 457 visas then the current government when they were in power, with the highest number of grants from 2011 to 2013.


In sum, be careful about what you read as the facts may not all be there, and let’s wait and see if there will be changes coming and what they are.


In the meantime, if you are thinking about:

– sponsoring an overseas worker,

– getting your business approved to become a sponsor,

– finding out more about how this whole thing works,


Click here and download a fact-sheet that sums up the legislative requirements for the 457 Sponsorship Visa.


Erica Carneiro
Co-Founder, Director and Registered Migration Agent 0532487


Minister for Immigration and Border Protection