A specialist SME lawyer says it’s not just the short-term impacts of the 457 visas changes that are creating confusion for business owners.
Mark Gardiner, an immigration and business law specialist at Teddington Legal, says the entire process has been “handled very poorly” by authorities, which has allowed confusion to run rife.
“I think the process has been handled very poorly by the immigration department and it’s caused a great deal of anxiety on individuals and confusion in business. It’s one of the worst examples of change in policy I’ve seen in a very long time and it should be condemned,” he says while speaking on the My Business Podcast.
“The budget … introduced additional fees for employers, so employers who’ve got 457 employees right now will, as of next February, be required to pay additional fees.
“We’re seeing people who have had applications before the department but they haven’t been approved before 19 April, now not have a pathway to a visa. And the only option they have is to withdraw their application. It is very confusing.”
In addition to the confusion businesses and individuals are facing in the short-term, Mark says both are also unsure of where they now stand longer term, given the changes also affect routes to permanent residency for people employed on a number of skills-based requirements.
“You’ve got people who now here on 457s were expecting at the end of that 457 period to be eligible to apply for permanent residency visa and then progress through to citizenship from there, will no longer have that option,” says Mark.
“And then the permanent residency visas are being changed. The age of which someone can apply for PR has been reduced from 50 to 45.”
Mark adds: “There’s been some very significant changes made, the changes are continuing and the next stage of interlocution I think is 31 December and then March next year. In the meantime there’s great confusion, there’s great uncertainty, and the impact upon individuals’ lives is immense and the impact upon businesses is going to be large.”
According to Mark, anyone unsure of where they now stand – either as a visa holder or as an employer – really only has one course of action available to them.
“This is going to sound bias because I do immigration law, but they need to talk to an immigration lawyer,” he says.
“They need to talk to someone who’s familiar with the changes and familiar with the policy of the department to get an understanding of what changes apply now, what changes will apply through the changing process – through 2017-18 – and what the law will look like post 1 March 2018.”
Another lawyer, Justin Rickard of Australian Immigration Lawyers, recently provided My Business with a full breakdown of the occupations now ineligible for 457 visas, and also busted 11 of the most common myths about 457s currently doing the rounds in a bid to give business owners and their employees as much clarity on the issue as is currently possible.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.