Australia to scrap 457 visa program

Posted April 20, 2017

"The government is examining consequences of the new policy in consultation with all stakeholders. This is also a matter we will be looking at in the context of CECA negotiations", the MEA said in a statement.

It was introduced in 1996 and allows skilled workers stay on in Australia if an employer sponsors them, but is now going to be replaced by a new programme and the list of job types that need filling will be dramatically lowered.

This is a significant development, as 457 work visa was one of the most popular visas used by Australian companies to bring foreign workers, from all fields.

The UK, Canada, and the US-the three countries that account for the majority of India's software export revenue-have upped the hurdles for Indians to gain work visas. The clauses in the new visa programmes include a deeper English language testing with stringent labour tests and an additional work experience.

But the abolition of visas under 457 is likely to impact relations between India and Australia.

While the largest number of 457 visa holders are from India, 19.5 per cent are from the United Kingdom and 5.8 per cent are from China.

"We welcome the Prime Minister's move to protect Australian jobs through a more streamlined and rigorous visa process", said TAA chair Martin Ferguson.

"The government will deny their tough talk on immigration and plan to ban 457 visas is because of One Nation but we all know the truth!" she wrote.

As well as putting some job seekers offside, a parliamentary enquiry past year found the visa system left foreign workers open to exploitation, and that many were being underpaid or otherwise taken advantage of as a result.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said there would be greater police checks on citizenship applicants and perpetrators of domestic violence should be disqualified.

The new program will have two streams: short term, which lasts two years, and medium-term, which will be awarded to address irreparable skills shortages and last four years.

Mr Turnbull also flagged changes to citizenship rules for permanent skilled migrants, so they are consistent with Australia's cultural values.

He says there are still jobs Australians don't want to do, "whether it is packing offal in an abattoir or boning out skulls".

Foreign workers must supplement and not replace hard-working Australians, the prime minister insisted.