The 457, 186 and 187 visa subclasses constitute the foundation of Australia’s employment visa system. It’s purpose is to facilitate Australian companies to employ demanded professionals from overseas and deal with the shortage of local labours.  However, it has been frequently reported that this visa scheme is being abused by Australian employers. The most recent Domino’s case is just the tip of the iceberg, where the employers exploit the overseas workers and charge a heavy fee for sponsorship. The Australian government is now again determined to overhaul the whole 457 visa system, and Australian local companies will not keep silent and are speaking up for their concerns.

Atlassian’s co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes is deeply worried if the government tightens Australia’s 457 visa program, which allows companies to bring in skilled migrants.  He warned that a crackdown on 457 visas would damage the growth of the local tech industry and can see that the political rush to exploit anti-migration sentiment will inevitably hit companies just like his.

Founded in 2002, Atlassian has 2000 employees around the world including 1000 in Australia. Twenty five per cent of its Australian workforce are on 457 visas. Most are software engineers. Atlassian would prefer to hire as much of its local workforce as possible in Australia. However, Australia produces only 2000 computer science graduates a year — far less than the 5000 foreign workers that come into the country on 457 visas. The real demand, he says, is more than 7000 workers. Atlassian hired 81 new graduates last year and has sponsored 35 Australians to study computer science, but it is impossible to train them up to the skill level of people with a decade or more of experience offshore for jobs that must be filled right now. Skilled and experienced software engineers coming to Australia allows the development of the local industry and the training of Australian graduates by world-class industry experts. This is one simple instance where Australia needs 457 visa holders to continue.

Not surprisingly, the most serious anti-457 visa move has come from opposition leader Bill Shorten who this week introduced a private member’s bill into federal parliament — the Migration Amendment (Putting Local Workers First) Bill; it is purported to tighten up the controls around the issuance of 457 visas. The bill would introduce more rigorous requirements for labour-market testing for firms to use 457 visas, e.g., requiring companies to advertise jobs for at least four weeks locally before they bring in foreign workers.

Statistically, the total number of overseas people coming to Australia on 457 visas has already decreased from 70,000 per year to 45,000 today.

It will be interesting to see how things progress in 2017 for the 457 visa. However, the only certainty for the future of Australian 457 visas is the incoming and inevitable reduction and scrutiny. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

AIMS consists of a team of professional migration agents and solicitors who provide excellent assistance to people who intend to migrate to Australia or Australian residents or citizens who wish to bring their family. Whether you are seeking to study or work or establish a business in Australia, we can advise you on your visa options and assist you in securing the right visa.  For more information or to set up a consultation with one of our agents, just give AIMS a call on 03-9078 6819 or email us at .