Concern grows over visa changes

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The life sciences sector remains very concerned over the Turnbull government's major changes to section 457 visas for temporary skilled migrants.

As part of recent changes, a number of occupations important to the life sciences sector have been removed from the list that qualify for the 457 visa, including biochemist, biotechnologist, life scientist, life scientist, nurse researcher and RR&D manager.

Overall, the number of occupations included in the list has been cut from 651 to 435, but the sector is particularly concerned given the general skills shortage in key areas and the global competition for talent.

The sector's representative groups, led by AusBiotech, are still seeking to understand the full implications of the changes. However, a key concern is the negative message the changes send to potential overseas-based candidates, and the fact the announcement with no consultation or pre-warning undermines confidence in Australia as a potential work destination for skilled workers.

The recent change, which took immediate effect, will be followed by abolition of the 457 visa from March next year. It will be replaced with the TSS visa. The TSS visa will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years, and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years.