It depends. The recent changes announced by the Australian Government to our migration system affect the 457 visa (Temporary Work-Skilled) in significant ways. First of all, it is important to keep in mind that the 457 visa is being phased out. Prime Minister Turnbull announced on 18 April 2017 that the visa will be abolished and replaced in March 2018. A new visa will be then introduced.
Despite the fact that we are a few months away from that deadline, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has already started implementing some of the proposed changes since July 1st, 2017.
When considering whether you can (and if it is worth it!) change jobs while on a 457 visa, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- When will your current 457 visa expire and what are your plans for when it finally expires?
- Are you planning on changing career or work in an occupation other than the one you were originally nominated? Will you be sponsored by the same employers or a different one?
- And, most importantly, is your occupation on one of the newly consolidated lists (STSOL or MLTSSL)?
Every case is a different case. People have different expectations and needs. In any case, the ‘Rule of Thumb’ is: the new policy will not affect the validity of your current 457 visa. If you are allowed to stay and work in Australia nothing will change until your visa expires.
What happens if you need or want to extend your 457 visa for 4 more years because it is coming to an end before March 2018? What if you find a new job and decide to remain in Australia before the 457 visa is abolished in 2018? Well, then you will have to apply for an extension and, with that, the new rules will apply!
Here is what has changed and why “it depends” is the answer to this question.
If your new occupation is no longer on either list, then you cannot apply for a job change, at least until your occupation goes back on the list. This may or may not happen in the future when the lists are revised – generally every six months. If your occupation is on the new short-term list (STSOL), you can change jobs. Your 457 visa will be valid for 2 years only. In the same way, if your occupation is on the mid and long-term list (MLTSSL), your visa will be valid for 4 years. In this case, you may also be able to apply for permanent residence at a later date.
The changes announced by the Government also gives power to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to impose ‘caveats’ to occupations. These are specific conditions imposed to certain occupations, even though they have been included on the lists.
If you already hold a valid 457 visa and intend to pursue work in a different field or take on a different position (an occupation with a different ANZSCO code other than the one previously nominated), the changes will also apply to you. Your new occupation of choice will have to be on one of the new lists. It is important that you check on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website as the lists are periodically updated. You will also need to meet other requirements.