Sector concern over scrapping of 457 visas

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Questions across the life sciences sector after the Turnbull government announced major changes to section 457 visas for temporary skilled migrants.

In immediate changes, a number of occupations important to the life sciences sector have been 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; and Research and Development Manager.

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

The immediate change 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.

According to a fact sheet issued by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Short-Term stream is designed for businesses to fill skill gaps with foreign workers on a temporary basis, where a suitably skilled Australian worker cannot be sourced.

Current holders of 457 visas will not be impacted by the change.

The sector's representative groups are seeking to understand the full implications of the changes. The sector does make use of the 457 visa but also other visa classes. The concern is the change, announced with no consultation or pre-warning, undermines confidence in Australia as a potential work destination for researchers.

Other sectors, including information technology and entertainment, have publicly expressed concern over the changes.