Study Examines Australia's 457 Visa Program

By Editorial 26 September, 2013

A report from the Migration Council Australia has shown that four out of five multinational companies are using "457" work visa holders to train and develop Australian workers, and that workers in this category have high levels of job satisfaction.

The visa, properly known as the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457), allows skilled workers to work for an approved business in Australia for up to four years. Applicants for the visa can be either inside or outside Australia, but must be sponsored by an approved business that cannot find an Australian citizen or permanent resident to do the skilled work required.

The Migration Council surveyed 3,800 visa holders and 1,600 businesses. The report notes that, in general, workers from non-English speaking backgrounds tended to see themselves as settling in "well" but not "very well," but that negative responses were very rare and no participants indicated that they were "not ftting in at all." However, 18.4 percent of workers from non-English speaking backgrounds said that they had faced discrimination because of their skill, colour, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

Over 70 percent of responders said they intend to become permanent residents, and Migration Council CEO Carla Wilshire suggested that demand from employers is driving a "two-step" migration program.

Wilshire said the findings show that the 457 visa program is critical for Australia's competitiveness, and that visa holders "play an important role in building Australia's human capital." She added: "Temporary migration does not just fill skills shortages, it addresses skills deficits and plays a central part in workplace development at the enterprise level."

However, she argued that there needs to be more of a focus on spouses and dependents, and she also highlighted that two percent of workers reported incomes that were less than that set by regulations.

The report contains a number of recommendations, beginning with the suggestion that Australia's Federal Government should increase sponsorship and nomination fees. It argues that it would be a "price signal," and would provide resources that strengthen compliance and deliver settlement services.

Further recommendations include: that there should be voluntary Australian workplace orientation sessions; that the deadline for any work-related registration or licensing requirements should be extended from 28 days to 90 days; that 457 visa holders should be allowed to apply for the transition to permanent residency after two years; that there should be research into immigration and innovation by the Federal Government and by industry bodies, and that the role of migration should be considered in national policies; that settlement services be extended to dependants, and education expenses for dependent children in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales be removed; and that the problems of exploitation and discrimination should be addressed.

Tags: Australia | Expats | Visas And Passports | Working Abroad | Work | Working Abroad | Working Abroad |


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