In shocking news for many applicants, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced the canceling of 457 Australia visa program for skilled migrants, to tackle unemployment in the country. The Prime Minister says jobs must go to Australians first, before businesses consider hiring foreign workers.
The government aimed to bring temporary foreign workers with 457 Australia visa. Its purpose was to fill jobs which the locals were unable to match the skill set. The locals were also reluctant to do most of these jobs. 95,757 workers has entered Australia on these visas by 30 September 2013. According to ABC News, majority of temporary skilled 457 Australia visa holders are from India, followed by UK and China at 19.5 percent and 5.8 percent.
These recent changes will not affect current visa holders. However, the Australian government is introducing two new temporary skills visas. A two-year visa and a more specialized one for four years targeted at higher skills. The new visas will target skills shortages accurately. Australian Government will also set new standards for English language proficiency. These arrangements are expected to be in place by March 2018.
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Business groups have welcomed the announcement, saying it would help them access workers where there are skill shortages in Australia. The Australian Industry Group said the changes would improve the integrity of Australia’s visa program. They represent more than 60,000 Australian businesses. The group’s Chief Executive Innes Willox stated, “the temporary skilled visa program is now be considered as settled without the need for further reviews and disruptive policy change.”
Comparatively, others like the tourism sector have been a little more cautious to welcome it entirely. This is due to the fact that there may be an immediate shortage of workers in the expanding hospitality sector. Australian Hotels Association CEO, Stephen Ferguson said they were comfortable with the changes, as long as hotels could still hire cooks and chefs from overseas. The rapid rise in the hotel industry and the standard of cuisines means Australian chefs and cooks alone may not be able to fulfill the demand.
Regarding the upcoming arrangements, the new four-year visa will cost AUD 2400, while the two-year visa will cost AUD 1150. There is no permanent residency outcome for either of these visas. The Government will also set a minimum market salary rate. This is to discourage employers from hiring foreign workers for lower wages.
The Australian government had also announced that it would review which occupations were eligible for 457 visas. The list consisted of more than 600 jobs. Under these recent changes, designations like firefighters, police officers, actors, dentists, shearers, zookeepers, and pilots will no longer be open for foreign employees.
In fact, the 457 visa program had been mired in controversy ever since its inception. However, the effectiveness of Australia’s latest immigration policy will depend on a number of factors, which are mostly internal. Giving local residents the option to apply for jobs is highly commendable. However, they should match the skills required or be willing to relocate to places where these jobs are available.