457 Visa class terminated

Sydney, April 18, 2017

457 class Visa

Malcolm Turnbull TwitterAustralian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, announced today that they have abolished Temporary Worker (Skilled) Visa (subclass 457),  effective immediately.

457 Visa will be replaced by two new temporary Visa classes, which will allow employers and businesses to hire a skilled person from overseas provided they can’t find a suitably skilled local person.

People who will get these visas must have relevant work experience of at least 2 years, have better English proficiency and pass criminal check. This is to ensure that only the best people get this visa.

One of these new classes will be for a shorter period of 2 years. After the conclusion of 2 years, the employees will not be able to apply for PR visa.

Another of the new visa will be able for 4 years, if they have a minimum relevant work experience of 2 years, fulfil tougher English proficiency test and clear the criminal and background check, the criteria which are not applicable for current 457 visa presently.

Fees for both these new visa ($1,150  for 2 years Visa and $2,400 for 4 years Visa) will be higher than what is the case presently. Special concessions in a variety of ways and manners will continue to be available for regional Australia.

Out of about 600 categories of occupations in the list for 457 visa, about 200 categories will be removed.

A minimum wage will be fixed to stop unfair advantage to overseas employees when it comes to wages.

Employers will have to do a mandatory labour testing of the job market and offer the job to a suitably skilled Australian (or a PR visa holder), before such job can go to an overseas person.

Employers and businesses, who employ overseas workers would be required to contribute some funds for training of local people.

As of September, 2016, there are about 95,000 primary 457 visa holders and about 76,000 secondary 457 visa holders (family members of primary 457 visa holders).

Indians constitute about 25% of the total 457 visas, followed by the British at 20% and people from People’s Republic of China (PRC) at about 5%.

Total 457 visa holders are less than 1% of total workers in Australia.

Peter Dutton TwitterMinister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, confirmed that these changes will not affect those who are already holding 457 visa, and current 457 visa holders will be able to apply for the PR visa at the end of their 4 years employment.

The new visa category will be finalised in March 2018, and will be implemented immediately.

It is expected that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will release more details in days to weeks from now.

More details: http://www.news.com.au/national/politics/prime-minister-malcolm-turnbull-has-banned-457-visas/news-story/7064434e051073a0882a3e11dd8bc87f

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/457-visas-to-be-scrapped-new-visa-rules-explained/news-story/0c83d69f94d61c7d81c4dbcccbb56050

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-457-visa-changes/news-story/3894724396a5c7f99491c961ae9b8088

Rob Harris, journalist from the Herald Sun newspaper has posted following information about which categories are excluded from sponsored visa categories.

List of removed occupations: https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work/Skills-assessment-and-assessing-authorities/skilled-occupations-lists/removed-skilled-occupations

It is well-known that 457 Visa system was scammed by many employers and businesses. Many times, employers were not testing the market for the availability of suitably skilled local people. Even worse, many employers and businesses were taking money for sponsoring people on 457 visa. Market rates for such bribe ranged from $40,000 to 70,000. I personally know an example of a so-called businessman, who also masquerades as community leader, who took $150,000 from 3 people to sponsor them for 457 visa. Despite this, he didn’t do the proper job, before selling his business to someone else. The new owner demanded money again. Victims contacted a few of us (4 people), seeking assistance. You should not be surprised to know that this particular “businessman” has been given an “Excellence in community service” award by an association. Another example is that of a “businessman” who is known as a “Go to” man in the community for arranging the “match making” for this type of visa. Obviously, he makes his money from not only the “sponsoted” employee, but also from the one who “sponsors” the “employee”. Many of this type of “businesspeople” are often awarded “role model of the community” titles and are listed in Who is Who columns in the communities, because of variety of reasons, none of which can be called genuine or clean. Some foolish Government ministers include them in their delegations and these people are often seen around political leaders to create an impression of their high connections to scare the victims and stop them from complaining to authorities.

There is no doubt that quite a lot of employers, likely to be the majority, sponsor right type of people on 457 visa for the right reasons and act ethically, but it’s undeniable that corruption and rorting are rampant. Exploitation for some of these visa holders is not uncommon. There  is always a sword of the threat of cancelling the sponsorship hanging over 457 visa holders, if they did not do and pay what employers wanted. Once this sponsorship gets cancelled, the employee must find a new  sponsor within 60 days, which is very difficult, if not impossible in many cases.

This behavior not only harms the Australian job seekers, because they miss out on a job, but it also promotes corruption and creates exploitation-based employment industry. This also contributes to cash economy, because the money exchange involved in this, by necessity, is in cash form.

There are already comments from the opposition and Unions that these changes are not enough and are just window dressing.  Looking at the changes, one thing becomes obvious that the shorter term visa  (2 years variety) is likely to be used only for genuine employees.  Nobody is going to pay for a sponsorship which doesn’t lead to PR visa at the end of the sponsored job. Let us see what outcome these changes deliver. Their efficacy in tackling 457 visa rorts will become clear in due course.

I am of the firm opinion that Labour market testing to see if an Australian worker is available before hiring someone from overseas should be done independently, as recommended by the John Azarius inquiry. It is hard to rely on such testing by the employers themselves.

In my view any action to control and eradicate the corruption is welcome. In fact, I believe that Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) should do everything including strengthening the resources for surveillance, investigation and prosecution against those who are involved in the rorting of sponsored visa programmes, They will have a better chance to catch the scammers if DIBP gives protection, including offering Justice visa, to the victims, to encourage them to testify and provide the necessary evidence against the visa scammers.

I hope that these changes make the sponsored jobs programme good and fair for Australia and Australians, as well as those who apply for this visa. Anything which cleans this visa programme is certainly going to be better than what we have today.

The programme for the obvious reasons will need regular reviewing and fine tuning to make it effective and to be meeting the needs of Australia

Dr Yadu Singh

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Community consultation for new proposed temporary visa for parents

Sydney, 14 November, 2016

It was a privilege and an honour to be invited by Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for a community round table consultation held at Holiday Inn Parramatta on Thursday, 27 October, 2016.

After receiving the invitation, I consulted a few Migration professionals including Thiru Arumugam and several community members, besides reviewing relevant information, to have a full perspective and understanding of this matter.

The round table consultation was chaired by Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, The Hon Alex Hawke MP.

The consultation had about 15 people from various communities which included Indian Australian, Chinese Australian communities and broader Australian community as well as representatives of local MPs and aged care providers.

As we know, the Coalition and Australian Labor Party gave commitments for a new and improved temporary visa for parents during the campaign for 2nd July Federal election.

After the Coalition Government was re-elected, a discussion paper was released by Assistant minister on 23 September, 2016. This was followed by consultations with the broader Australian community.

This consultation had two formats;

  1. Written submission: Closed on 31 October, 2016
  2. Community consultations: DIBP invited key members of the Australian community to participate in closed-door forum discussions for the inputs for final settings of this Visa. Such consultations took place in Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Melbourne and Brisbane in October and November. Sessions were chaired by Minister Hawke and also had participations from key DIBP officials.

Final particulars and details of this Visa will be announced by the end of 2016 and the new temporary parent visa will be implemented from 1 July 2017.

Australian Migration Programme has 3 components;

  1.  Temporary Visa programmes,
  2.  Humanitarian Programme: 13,750 places available in 2016-17.
  3.  Permanent Migration programme: 190,000 places available in 2016-17. It has Skill stream and Family stream.  Skill stream (128,500)  is 2/3 of the programme. Skill stream can be either points tested or employer sponsored. Family stream has 57,400 places. Preference is given to spouses, partners and children.  Extended family members including parents had 8675 places in 2016-17.

As you know, there are basically three types of visa available for parents.

A. Temporary visitor visa: This visa is generally valid for 3 months of stay but can be for a period of 12 months. It requires parents to leave Australia for 6 months after staying here for 12 months. There are further and longer options of Visa duration of 5 or 3 years depending on whether they have lodged a permanent Parent Visa application or not. A security bond may be needed.

B. Parent Visa: Also called Parent non-contributory Visa. Parents can apply for this visa in usual way if they qualify for balance of family test. Lodgement of “Assurance of Support” (AoS) is required from eligible sponsors (Children). Very few places are available. Only about 1500 such Visa were issued in 2015-16. Waiting period is about 30 years.

C. Contributory Parent Visa: This has a waiting period of about 2 years but sponsors are required to pay Visa Application Charge (VAC) of about $47,295 for the primary applicant and $44,845 for the spouse, and AoS of  about $20,000 before this Visa can be issued. Balance of Family test must still be passed.

You can see that B and C type of Visa are not a realistic option for many parents and families.

Considering the benefits from the stay of parents with their children’s families in Australia (cultural, psychological, help in child care, their children’s earlier resumption of work after maternity/paternity leave), there has been a growing demand from migrants (Australian citizens and permanent residents) to have the facility for a better and more practical system for parent visa.

Both major parties announced their decision to work for such new temporary visa for parents during recent Federal election campaign.  Both parties also  said that such Visa must not cause undue financial burden on Australian community and affect the Budget adversely.

Consultation process is part of this work. The Turnbull Government has also been in close consultations with the Federal Opposition. This proposed Visa is basically a bi-partisan endeavour.

Salient features of proposed temporary parent Visa:

  1. It will be for up to 5 year duration.
  2. It will have multi-entry provisions
  3. It will not require parents to leave Australia after 12 months’ stay. They can live here for full 5 years.
  4. They can reapply for another up to 5 years long Visa.
  5.  Balance of family test not needed.
  6. Some sort of Assurance of support (AoS) in the form of a Bond from the sponsoring children will be a part of this Visa to take care of any contingency
  7. Parents must hold a valid Health Cover from an Australian Health Cover provider.
  8. There will be a Visa Application Charge (VAC).
  9. The sponsor must have been living and contributing to Australia for a number of years. A longer period will give them a higher priority in eligibility.
  10. The sponsor will go through income and asset assessments.
  11. The sponsor will be required to undergo a criminal history check and agree to a range of enforceable obligations.
  12. Re-application of this Visa can occur onshore.

I took part in the discussion actively and contributed to it, I believe, meaningfully.

My suggestions included following besides many others;

  1. There should not be any age restrictions as long as parents pass the health check ie physiological age preferred over chronological age.
  2. Depending on relevant factors, they should also be given limited rights to work for a small numbers of hours. Such jobs should be those which a local is not prepared to do.
  3. Government should explore the possibility to have a more affordable Health cover through Medicare, if possible, because the cost of adequate Health care for one person is about $250/month which is $3000 a year for one person and $6000 for the couple. This is not a small cost. If Medicare could come up with a Health Cover scheme, without having profit as a goal, it is likely the premium may be upto 30% cheaper.
  4. Government should talk with Private Health Cover providers to develop an insurance cover for the total health care cost including “Gap” payments which can be substantial if parents require hospitalisation or need to consult specialists.
  5. There should not be any waiting period for re-application after end of the duration of the Visa and onshore re-application should be allowed.
  6. There should not be any English language requirement as such requirement will defeat the very purpose of this Visa.
  7. VAC should not be higher than what it is for temporary parent Visa presently.
  8. Income and asset assessments for sponsors should not be onerous and mechanisms for AoS (how AoS can be delivered by the sponsor) should be made easier and practical.
  9. Full refunds should be made if an application for Contributory Parent Visa is withdrawn and application for this new Visa is made.

At present, many things about and details of this proposed Visa are not clear or confirmed. After taking notes of submissions and consultations, the policy will be finalized and announced at the end of 2016. The visa will be implemented from 1 July, 2017.

Dr Yadu Singh

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It’s a crime to receive or offer a benefit for visa sponsorship

Up to 2 yrs jail &/or up to $324,000/case fine for people requesting/receiving a benefit in return for a work sponsorship including 457 visa. 457 visa scamming is making some unethical & unscrupulous employers rich at the cost of employees and Australia. See details below.

I have copied the information below from Department of Immigration and Border Protection. http://migrationblog.border.gov.au/category/457-visa/

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Introduction of payment for visa legislation

Payment for visas pic

 

 

 

 

 

On 14 December 2015 new legislation was introduced addressing payment for visas activity through criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, and visa cancellation powers. Asking for, receiving, offering or providing a benefit in return for visa sponsorship or related employment is now illegal.

The payment for visas legislation applies to a range of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas. It is unacceptable for sponsors, nominators, employers or third parties to make a personal gain through a payment for visa arrangement.

New criminal penalties of up to two years imprisonment and/or penalties of up to $324,000 for each instance apply to people requesting or receiving a benefit in return for a sponsorship event. Civil penalties of up to $216,000 may apply for people found to have offered or provided a benefit in return for a sponsorship event occurring. In addition to these penalties, if the people involved in this conduct hold a visa, either temporary or permanent, this may also be subject to cancellation. If visa applicants are involved, their applications can be refused.

Payment for visas undermines the integrity of skilled work programmes, which address genuine skill shortages in the Australia labour market by making employees available from overseas.

For more information about what constitutes payment for visas behaviour including the list of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas affected, go to: www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work-1.

If you have been a victim of, or are aware of payment for visas conduct, please report it to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection: http://www.border.gov.au/about/contact/report-suspicious-activities-behaviour.

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Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/18th Feb, 2016

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Hassan Asif deserves compassion & kindness

Sydney, NSW                                                                                           22nd Dec, 2015

Hassan Asif is 25 years old student, who came to Australia from Pakistan in 2014 to study in a Melbourne University.

Hassan Asif

He is suffering from a terminal/advanced Cancer and is under the care of Melbourne City Mission. He is reported to have only weeks to live.

Hassan has no family in Australia and has no community ties or connections.

He was keen to have his mother and brother to come to Australia to be with him, but their temporary Visa applications have been rejected.

From reports, Department of Immigration & Border Protection (DIBP) has encouraged them to submit fresh applications.

Reading the reports, his situation is saddening and heart-wrenching.

I believe that Hassan’s case deserves to be treated with compassion and kindness.

I am hopeful that Pakistani Australian community members and many others, including members of Indian Australian community, will come forward to raise funds for Hassan’s family members’ living expenses.

One good friend of mine, Sydney businessman, Kashif Amjad, responded to my Facebook post just now with “I will follow up with Australian Ambassador in Islamabad and ppl here. I will give my personal assurance if they come i will ensure they comply with all visa conditions.”

I urge my friends, especially Pakistani Australians, to come forward and help us persuade DIBP and Immigration Minister, The Hon Peter Dutton MP to treat this case with deserved compassion & kindness, and review the case. Family members can be asked to resubmit the applications.

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Further info:

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/dying-pakistani-student-denied-final-visit-from-family-by-immigration-department-20151222-gltoso.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-22/man-with-cancer-has-weeks-to-live,-family-denied-visa/7049116

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Dr Yadu Singh

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People in detention centres in Australia should be monitored for mental health issues!

ImageI have just learnt about the sad death of a 27 years old Indian student, who was in Maribyrnong immigration detention Centre in Melbourne since Jan 2014. He was a University student and was in the Detention Centre because his Visa was cancelled for breach of Visa conditions. Details of his Visa situations are not clear.

Yesterday, he was found in an unconscious state. He later died. His death is not being considered suspicious, which usually means that he committed suicide. Further details are not known at this stage.

It is a sad news for anyone, but obviously for his parents and family. Our hearts go out to them. R.I.P!

Many members of Indian Australian community are asking why and how did this happen, and what was done to prevent it, knowing he would have been in severe distress. Full facts are not out at this stage, but we ask DIBP and Minister Morrison’s office to put Indian community in the loop with full information and take them in confidence. We also ask Indian High Commission in Canberra and Indian Consulate in Melbourne to take the community in confidence, sharing detailed information. It is not an ordinary death. A young man came to Australia, with his hopes and hopes of his family. All those hopes are shattered and his parents have to deal with the sad and unfortunate loss of his life. This must be naturally devastating to them.

It is well known that detention is a stressful situation and it creates distress and mental health issues for detainees. Mental health issues are number one health issues in Detention centres.

While no Govt can close detention centres, and detainees will continue to be detained for various reasons, they certainly can ensure proper pastoral care and monitoring of mental health issues among detainees. Staff in these centres must be properly trained to look out for any sign of severe distress and depression.

I understand, and believe firmly, that authorities  have a “Duty of Care” to those who are in any custody-Mental Health institutions, Hospitals, Police Lock-up places, Prisons and Detention Centres. Duty of Care also includes reasonable monitoring of signs & symptoms of distress and depression, and providing assistance and counselling to prevent self-harm or harm to others.

Recently, IHAG (Immigration Health Advisory Group), comprising of GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, Social workers and Counsellors has been replaced with a single advisor. I hope this will not impact on the care of people in detention. 

We are a caring society, and must continue to remain so, within the constraints of our means and resources, while dealing with vulnerable people, and people in custody.

In regards to this particular unfortunate case, a thorough investigation should be done, which I believe is happening, to figure out all aspects of the case.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/14th Feb, 2014

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