Whilst the government are making big noises about significant changes to the sc457 process, in reality they are making minor changes that do not affect most people involved with sc457 visas. The most significant change is removing visa criteria which require provision of evidence of English language skill subclass 457 visa applicants who are already required to demonstrate such proficiency to obtain occupational registration or licensing (see Explanatory Statement the purpose of Migration Legislation Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2016 РF2016L00523).

More worthy of note are the Student visa changes. As from 1 July 2016, the student visa categories are cut down to just two subclasses: sc500 (Student) and sc590 (Student Guardian).

This is effectively a return to the scheme in place more than 15 years ago when student visa decision making was discretionary. In those old days it was eventually found that there was no consistency and certainty in decision making. They found it necessary to then remove discretion and create the system we currently have.

However, now it seems discretion is back in vogue and we are back to where we were in the 1990s. Case officers (decision-makers) are to have a larger range of factors for decision makers to assess genuineness and the need for individuals to provide evidence of financial and English proficiency.

It usually takes about 10-12 years for memories to fade. I would not be surprised if in the future someone at the Department comes up with a great idea to remove discretion from student visa processing like they did in 2000. Back to the future!