How will Australian visa changes affect Irish workers?

"Frantic" Irish workers are seeking clarity...

Australia's plans to discontinue its 457 work visa were announced yesterday and have created confusion for Irish workers planning a move Down Under. 

Irish Visa company Visa First has reported that it has been, "inundated with calls from 'frantic' Irish workers" who are concerned about the rule changes.

However, Irish citizens have been advised to remain calm as two alternative Temporary Skill Shortage visa schemes are set to be introduced, which will offer new avenues for Irish people to move to Australia.

“What we are telling people is that yes, the change will definitely impact on Irish workers... However, while the numbers might fall slightly, we don’t expect to see a huge drop in the numbers of Irish going to Down Under over the next few years as a result of these changes," Edwina Shanahan, Managing Director at Visa First commented.

"This is simply a reform of the sponsorship programme – it is not closing," she added.

200 occupations have been removed from the skills shortage list making it that bit harder to get your hands on a visa. However, most of the main sectors which Irish workers are working in will not be impacted by these changes.

While obscure professions like singers and goat farmers will not be of much concern to Irish people, more common jobs like biochemists, HR advisers, microbiologists and web developers have been removed from the list of accepted professions. 

Ireland's existing 'working holiday' visa will not be affected. The changes will also not affect those who’ve already been granted a 457 but who have not yet left Ireland, but it could impact those whose applications are being processed

Taking to Facebook, Australian PM, Malcolm Turnball said he was "putting jobs first" by scrapping the four-year temporary work visa.

"We are an immigration nation but, the fact remains, Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs," he said in a video.

Turnbull said the 457 visas will no longer be “passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians”.

"So we’re abolishing the 457 visas – the visas that bring temporary foreign workers into our country," he added.

A total of 23,205 Irish citizens were in Australia on temporary visas on June 30th 2015.

As of the end of 2016 6,000 Irish people held 457 work visas.

What is the 457 visa?

Introduced in 1996, the 457 visa has been the most common way for employers to bring skilled workers into Australia temporarily. The 457 usually requires sponsorship by an employer.

The number of visas issued is uncapped and reached a peak of 126,000 in 2012-13 - that had fallen to 96,000 by last year.

There have been long-running concerns over exploitation of 457 visa holders who depend on their employer to remain in Australia.

Here are some of the professions which will no longer be eligible:

  • Biochemist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Construction Estimator
  • Driller
  • Electronic Engineering Draftsperson
  • Electronic Engineering Technician
  • Floor Finisher
  • ICT Support and Test Engineers NEC
  • ICT Support Technicians NEC
  • Human Resource Adviser
  • Mechanical Engineering Draftsperson
  • Microbiologist
  • Multimedia Designer
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Surveying or Spatial Science Technician
  • Technicians and Trades Workers NEC
  • Telecommunications Cable Jointer
  • Telecommunications Technician
  • Web Developer


Additional reporting by Fionnuala Jones