Crunch time on working visa changes

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Crunch time is approaching for the life sciences sector on the Turnbull government's changes to the working visa program.

As part of changes announced in April, a number of occupations important to the life sciences sector were immediately removed from the list that qualify for the 457 visa.

The occupations include: Biochemist; Biotechnologist; Life Scientist (General); Life Scientist (Not elsewhere classified); Nurse researcher; Production Manager (Manufacturing); and Research and Development Manager.

Overall, the number of occupations included in the list was cut from 651 to 435.

The immediate changes will be followed with 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.

The new two-year TSS visa has raised additional concerns across for sector over its potential to limit its ability to attract technical experts and leaders to Australia.

Several companies have had to terminate already completed recruitment processes.

The sector has been actively engaged the Turnbull government on the impact of the changes. Health minister Greg Hunt is understood to have expressed sympathy over the issue and sought specific examples of unintended consequences from the sector.

It is understood any changes to the list of 'removed occupations' will be made in the next few weeks.