Melbourne: Australia has announced changes to the ‘457 visa’ programme for skilled foreign workers to limit their ability to look for another job after their official employment ends, a move that will adversely affect Indians working in the country.
Foreign workers on a 457 visa will only now be able to stay in Australia for 60 days after their employment ends instead of 90.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton on Wednesday said, “From November 19, 2016 the period that a subclass 457 visa holder may remain in Australia after their employment ceases will be reduced from 90 days to 60 days.”
“The change is expected to assist in ensuring that the 457 programme met its intent of acting as a supplement to, rather than a substitute for, Australian workers apart from reducing the vulnerability of 457 visa holders, who were only permitted to work for an approved sponsor and were not eligible for unemployment benefits, from entering into informal employment arrangements.”
The minister said that the government was committed to ensuring that Australian workers have priority and to reducing the potential for temporary visa holders to be exploited.
“This change is about reducing competition from overseas workers for those Australians who are actively looking for work,” Dutton said.
“The Government values the contribution made by the many skilled persons who work in Australia on 457 visas, but where there is an Australian worker ready, willing and able to perform a role it is the government’s policy that they have priority,” he said.
He said the government’s approach compared with that of the former Labor government, which increased the time that 457 visa holders may remain in Australia when they cease employment from 28 days to 90 days in June 2013.
“The Subclass 457 programme was not effectively managed by Labor, as with so many other areas of government. Labor’s mismanagement saw the Subclass 457 programme grow from around 68,000 primary visa holders at the end of June 2010 to more than 110,000 when they were removed from office,” he said.
Upon coming to power, the Coalition undertook an independent review of the subclass 457 visa and has been implementing recommendations of that review since.
This change to 457 visa arrangements is part of the government’s ongoing commitment to ensure integrity in the programme.
The 457 visa is granted to foreign workers for four years and is designed to fill positions that are difficult to find Australians for, ABC Online said.
There are a range of different occupations on the list from different salary levels and different education backgrounds, including neurologists, midwives, cabinet makers and lift mechanics.
In the last financial year, the largest amount of visas were granted to cooks.
The largest number of workers come from India (26.8%), followed by employees from the UK (15%) and China (6.6%).