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Find out what the Minister of Immigration really said about changes to the 457 visa

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 do as their occupations will certainly be removed from the 457 program.  

The first thing I would like to tell everyone is to be very careful about what the government says in the media, and what the media reports, about the 457 visa. The 457 is used a political card a lot of the time and the media loves to talk about it without really getting the facts out there.

They 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.

FACT:

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 ABC wrote an article talking about what the Minister of Immigration, Peter Dutton, said about the 457 visa in an interview 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?

FACT:

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?

MINISTER PETER DUTTON:

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.

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 we cannot panic at all.

So, 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 they are asking for restrictions, the Opposition granted way more 457 visas then the current government when they were in power, from 2011 to 2013.

And as I said: be careful about what you read as the facts may not all be there! The best to do in my opinion and to wait and see what will happen.

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

Sources:
Data.gov.au
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection