Sydney, April 18, 2017
Australian 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.
Minister 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.
Rob Harris, journalist from the Herald Sun newspaper has posted following information about which categories are excluded from sponsored visa categories.
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