457 Visa Applications Dramatically Fall

Latest figures from Department Of Immigration & Border Protection have shown a dramatic fall in the number of 457 visa applications recorded both onshore and offshore. year-on-year, employer requested visas have dropped by 13% since new laws were introduced.

457 Visa Applications Lodged

457 Visa Applications Lodged (2011 – 2013)

Over the past 10 years 457 visa applications have increased steadily from 40,000 in 2003 to 81,550 last financial year. Interestingly, the highest numbers were recorded in 2008 (just before the GFC) when 110,000 applications were approved.

The graph above clearly indicates that the month before changes that commenced on the 1st of July 2013 there was a rush of applications (to be processed under the old system) and since this date application numbers have not recovered. In fact, over 12,000 applications were submitted in June which was just in time to avoid the changes!

Key changes introduced by the former Labour government included:

  • Means testing jobs to ensure they have been adequately advertised within Australia first before offering them to a potential 457 visa holder
  • Increasing 457 visa application costs from $455 to $1,035 for a single (it’s higher for couples and families)
  • Increasing sponsorship costs for a business from $85 to $330

It is quite clear that these changes are reducing the number of skilled workers adopting the scheme. With a new government now in place many analysts are questioning if adjustments will be made to the scheme to help increase applications numbers up to fill Australia’s skilled worker shortages.

It is also important to note that some sectors are defying this trend such as the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, which is still hiring steadily through the 457 visa program. The key issue is that the secondary stage of the subclass 457 visa changes won’t occur till January 2014 when the final ‘means testing’ occurs. This further regulation and the need to advertise the ICT jobs thoroughly within Australia and prove that it can’t be sourced is expected to reduce these numbers dramatically in the coming months and years. In fact, within the past 3 months the ICT sector has also felt these first waves of reforms being down year-on-year when it comes to 457 visa applications.