Australia to introduce strict rules on working visas
Australia will introduce stricter visa requirements for skilled workers from overseas, the government said.
The 457 visa program is used mainly to hire foreign workers in the restaurant, IT and medical industries – the majority came from India, UK, and China.
But PM Malcolm Turnbull said it would be abolished to prioritize the recruitment of Australian nationals.
Critics of 457 said Australian workers lost out to foreign counterparts.
In its place, two new temporary visas will carry additional requirements and draw from a smaller list of eligible professions.
“The new system will be manifest, rigorously, resolutely conducted in the national interest,” Mr. Turnbull said on Tuesday.
What was the 457 visa?
A four-year business visa which allowed people to live in Australia with their immediate family.
It was designed to fill gaps in skilled labor but it had been criticized as being too accessible.
In 2016, the most 457s were granted to cooks, developers, programmers and medical workers
According to government statistics, 95,758 people were living in Australia on 457 visas last year, with the highest proportion coming from India (24.6%), the UK (19.5%) and China (5.8%).
What are the changes?
Mr. Turnbull said the current four-year 457 system will be replaced by visas lasting two or four years.
For the shorter visa, more than 200 jobs will be removed from an existing list of about 650 eligible professions.
The list for the longer visa will be even more strict, said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
The changes will also require applicants to be more proficient in English, undergo a criminal check, and be subject to labor market testing.
Current 457 visa holders will not be affected by the changes, Mr. Turnbull said.
‘I’m absolutely devastated’
James Veale, manager at a high-tech company: “I think Mr. Turnbull needs to look at the taxi-driving students studying home economics and aged care first before he singles out the 100,000 457 visa applicants who are creating real opportunities and income for Australia.
“Many of these students, after becoming citizens, remain as taxi drivers, not the skilled higher-paying professions that their student visas promised.”
Will it have an impact on migration?
Yes, according to Mr. Dutton. He described the possibility of eventual citizenship as a “significant part of the attraction” of the 457 visa.
“The existing 457 visa program is conducted for a period of four years, but essentially it is open-ended, and it results, in many cases, in a migration outcome,” he said.
“What we propose is that under the temporary skills shortage visa short-term stream there will be a two-year visa… but there won’t be permanent residency outcomes at the end of that.”
The new four-year visa will also result in fewer permanent residents because of the eligibility changes, he said.
It comes after Australian said last month that it would largely end granting visas to foreign workers in the fast food industry.