The Australian government on Friday passed new visa rules cutting down the number of days skilled foreign workers can remain in the country after leaving a job, a move that is likely to affect the large number of Indians working there. The modifications to the “457 visa” programme will give workers just 60 days to find a new job, as against the 90 days stipulated by the old rules.

The new rules will be effective from November 19, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told PTI.
“This change is about reducing competition from overseas workers for those Australians who are actively looking for work,” he said. He also claimed the rules will reduce “the potential for temporary visa holders to be exploited”.

The previous government, headed by the Australian Labor Party, had increased the number of days an unemployed foreign worker can stay in the country from 28 days to 90 days. However, Dutton said this was one of the ways the party had “mismanaged” governance in the country. He said that after the Labor party changed the rules, the number of 457 visa holders increased from 68,000 at the end of June 2010 to more than 110,000 by the time the 2013 elections came around.

India accounts for 26.8% of the foreign workers that are in Australia under the 457 visa programme, the highest among all ethnic groups. The visa is granted for four years to skilled workers for posts the government finds difficult to fill. This includes neurologists, midwives, cabinet makers and lift mechanics, among other jobs.