457 visa changes and the retail industry

Sweeping changes to the 457 visa program under the Employer Nomination Scheme have created confusion and concern among employers and employees in the retail industry, according to immigration firm Fragomen.

Robert Walsh, Counsel and Notary Public from Fragomen, says the 457 program has worked effectively as a demand-driven, temporary-skill visa program with the number of visas granted rising and falling with changing circumstances in the labour market.

“The vast majority of companies using the 457 program and the individual holders of these visas have fully complied with the program’s requirements,” he said. “Importantly, the 457 visa program has made it clear to the world that Australia is open for business.

“However the 457 program has been caught up in the allegations of abuse of temporary visa holders in some sectors, largely involving visas other than the 457 visa. Any changes must ensure the integrity of the program and support within the Australian community is maintained.”

While the broader policy debate continues, Mr Walsh advises that those affected by the changes announced so far and those foreshadowed should seek informed advice about what the changes mean for them.

“We know that many employers in Australia are concerned about whether they can retain their current workforce and continue to employ people from overseas,” he said.

“With such significant changes to these visa classes, it’s important to know how the changes will affect individual employees and their families, companies and their sponsorship arrangements.”

Key changes include broader English-language requirements, police clearances will become mandatory for all 457 visa applications, mandatory labour testing, a requirement for employers to contribute to training Australians will be strengthened and new restrictions on visa renewals.