IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Processing times for subclass 457 visa applications are taking longer than normal to process in the final months before the category is abolished and replaced.

What does the change mean? According to the most recent Government updates, as of 30 September, 75 per cent of Subclass 457 visa applications are being processed within six months and 90 per cent of applications are being processed within 10 months.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Subclass 457 visas.
  • Who is affected: Australian employers sponsoring foreign skilled workers through Subclass 457.
  • Impact on processing times: The system is currently processing applications lodged from 31 July 2017, and in most cases applicants will need to wait six to 10 months.
  • Business impact: Companies should note that recently it has been taking at least three months from the date of lodgement for an application to be assigned to a case officer. Businesses should factor in the slower processing timelines and adjust their start dates and schedules accordingly.

Background: The Government will abolish the Subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa category beginning in March 2018 and replace it with the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa. Among the changes, the TSS will limit jobs filled by foreign workers to those whose skills are in shortage in the local labour market and will require that employers conduct labour market testing before visas are approved. The new visa will also require employers to pay into a fund to upskill Australian workers.

BAL Analysis: The slower processing is likely the result of high demand for Subclass 457 visas before the category is phased out. Employers and foreign employees should anticipate longer timelines in the coming months as authorities transition to the new TSS visa and its requirements.