Australia scraps visa for skilled foreign workers

Geronimo Vena
Aprile 20, 2017

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Tuesday that the country is overhauling a visa program that allows skilled workers from overseas to hold jobs for up to four years.

He said the new policy was "focused relentlessly on the national interest and in ensuring that temporary migration visas are not a passport for foreigners to take up jobs that could and should be filled by Australians".

Australia yesterday tightened its skilled foreign workers programme, abolishing the 457 visa scheme used by about 170,000 people and their families, including more than 500 Singaporeans, a year.

In a bid to tackle the threats of unemployment the Australian government bulldozed visa program used by more than 90,000 foreign workers.

The government claimed that the 457 visa was allegedly being used by companies to bring affordable workers from overseas. However, allegations have been raised that employers misuse the 457 visa to bring in cheap labour rather than to genuinely fill skill shortages.

The new visas will also have new requirements, including higher English language skills, at least two years of relevant work experience, and a criminal history check.

MP Littleproud said the move will safeguard Australian jobs and is a step in the right direction.

The move is seen as a deterrent to Indian IT firms which send software engineers to the U.S. on H-1B visas.

The Australian ambassador to Ireland says skilled Irish people will continue to be welcome in Australia despite the scrapping of the 457 visa programme.

But analysis released by Labor this morning shows at the end of previous year, only 8.6 per cent of 457 visa holders are working in occupations that will be excluded under the government's proposed reforms.

The new visa will include a short term two-year stream with a broad list of occupations reduced from the current list of more than 200.

Those now holding 457 visas - which last four years - will be exempt from the changes.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott welcomed the changes.

Indian nationals on the 457 visas are mostly hired as cooks, software developers and programmers and government figures show almost 10 per cent of 457 visas granted past year were for those roles.

There have been long-running concerns over exploitation of 457 visa holders - who depend on their employer to remain in Australia - and over labour market testing.

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