How will the abolishment of the 457 visa affect you?
When the headlines regarding Malcolm Turnbull’s abolishment of the 457 visa were printed last week, the whole of the hospitality industry held their breaths. For most business owners, employers and head chefs who are already fighting the endless war of finding the right staff, this news came as a massive blow. No one wants to pay the hefty fees involved in sponsorship, but many restaurants, café’s and fast food chains don’t have a choice, there are simply not enough workers out there.
Upon reflections and further reading, it’s been revealed that this news doesn’t affect all areas of the Hospitality industry, but will certainly be crucial for some sectors.
The Sectors that will be hit the hardest by these new laws are; Fast Food, Take Away, Café and Production Kitchens. Applicants with the titles: Baker, Pastry Chef, Cook or Restaurant/Bar Mangers (in ‘Limited service restaurants’*) are the professions that have now been taken off of the Skilled Occupational list and will only qualify for the Temporary Skilled Shortage visa (TSS). The TSS will only be valid for two years and will not lead to possible Permanent Residency (PR). (You will be able to apply for a second TSS after the initial two years, but will then have to leave Australia permanently once your second visa has expired.)
Chefs are still on the Skilled Occupational list, which is now, called the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skilled List (MLTSSL) but this does not include ‘chef’, pastry chef, cooks and bakers in a production-, franchise- or factory-kitchens.
With the MLTSSL- visa you will be entitled to 4 years working visa where you can apply for PR after three years as opposed to the previous two years. There are rumours that the requirements needed for PR will be stricter and therefore harder to gain, although those specific requirements are yet to be confirmed.
The positive outcome from these new regulations is the collection of all Tax file numbers, to assure that minimum market salary is being paid and that workers are not used and blackmailed in return for potential PR from their employers.
Minimum market salary to be offered to sponsored employees will now be $53,900 annual salary, which in most cases dismisses any junior positions in the kitchen for chefs here in Sydney.
In other cities outside of Sydney, where the salaries are generally a bit lower, these changes will have a huge impact on many businesses who are already struggling to find Chef de Parties and more junior chefs and might not be able to offer that salary. (Please note that there are special terms and conditions for rural Australia)
It is also now required that all applicants for sponsorship must have three years current industry experience before they come to Australia, which also dismisses the more junior positions.
For many high-end restaurants, this won’t be as much of an issue as many restaurateurs are already refraining from sponsoring demi’s, commis chefs and apprentices. However for the many of the Fast Foods and Take Away businesses that are opening all over our continent, this will have huge repercussions and make it very difficult for the loyal, hard working overseas employees that today hold the majority of these roles. (Please note that only 1% of Australia’s workforce is currently on 457 visas)
Yes, it would be great to encourage the youth of Australia to take on these roles, but it’s not like they are not available to them. The simple truth is that many Australians don’t want them. These roles are not as glamorous as what is being portrayed in the many cooking shows on TV, and we still have a massive issue with encouraging people to join our industry.
Instead of limiting so many businesses and making it so hard for employers that only want to contribute to our economy and encourage people, (regardless of their origin) to pay taxes in our country. Should the government not put their efforts into encouraging the youth of Australia to study and get the right qualifications to join the workforce, instead of cutting TAFE funding’s and raising university fees?
If you are currently in the process of a 457 visa application that is pending approval, we recommend that you contact your immigration lawyer.
If your profession has been taken off the Medium to Long Term Strategic Skilled List or if your skills do not comply with the new regulations, you might still be able to withdraw your application and get a refund.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the new changes and how it will affect your business or the way you see your future in Australia as a Chef or Restaurant manager.
For more information regarding the new visas and regulations visit:
* Limited service restaurants includes:
-Fast food and take away
-Bars with limited food supplies
-Coffee shops and mall cafes
-Limited service pizza restaurants.