Australia on Tuesday abolished its 457 visa programme to tackle the unemployment problem in the country. “We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains: Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The move is likely to affect dozens of Indians, who are among the majority of the temporary foreign workers who use the visa programme. Till September 30 last year, there were more than 95,000 foreign workers in the country with this work permit. Indians account for 26.8% of the foreign workers in Australia under the 457 visa programme, the highest among all ethnic groups.
However, the new rule will not apply to those who are currently in Australia on the 457 visa, reported Reuters. This particular visa programme allows businesses to employ foreign workers for a maximum of four years in skilled jobs where there is a shortage of Australian workers. But Turnbull has alleged that it was misused by employers to hire cheap labour. “It’s lost its credibility,” he said, adding that his country would “no longer allow 457 visa to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians”.
The prime minister further said that Australia will adopt a new “Australians first” approach to skilled migration. The 457 visa programme will be replaced by a new one that will be “specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest”. Foreign workers will be employed only to fill up critical skill gaps and not because it is easier to hire them, he added.
The new visa will be available for two or four years. It will be issued to those who have two years’ work experience and better command over the English language. A criminal record check will be carried out before the visa is issued, according to NDTV.