Australia scraps visa for skilled foreign workers

Australia's mining industry does not oppose the Turnbull government's decision to scrap the 457 visa program but wants to be able to easily bring in temporary foreign workers when needed, given its reliance on them during the resources boom.

In view of the increasing unemployment in the country, the Australian government banned the visa program known as 457 which allowed Australian companies to employ skilled foreign workers for a maximum period of four years.

Anyone now in Australia on a 457 visa will not be affected by the new arrangements.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed on Tuesday plans to terminate the 457 visa program which permits skilled migrants to work in the country for up to four years.

"But the fact remains, Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs", Turnbull said in a video announcement posted on Facebook. The Prime Minister said the focus is to ensure that Australian jobs are "given to Australians first".

Turnbull is specifically targeting the 457 visa, similar to the H-1B visa in the U.S. that president Trump is trying to curb.

Employers who don't properly search for Australian workers won't be able to bring in foreigners under the Turnbull government's new visa regime.

"Labor has been saying we should prioritise Australian jobs", she said.

TTF CEO Margy Osmond said a continuous pipeline of skilled labour from overseas was vital for sectors such as hospitality, which has ongoing shortages of key staff including chefs and hotel managers. Indians make the highest proportion of foreign workers in Australia on a 457 visa (24.6%), followed by those from the United Kingdom (19.5%) and China (5.8%). "This is a very substantial reduction in the list of skills that qualify for these visas", Turnbull said. Most were employed as cooks, programmers and medical workers.

The new visas will also have new requirements, including higher English language skills, at least two years of relevant work experience, and a criminal history check.

But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton questioned Atlassian's role in the the local market.

The 457 visa, which runs for up to four years, is now used by 95,000 foreign workers.

Related news