Unfair and dangerous to Australia’s global standing, the changes to the 457 visa scheme are not worth the price.
The changes to the 457 Foreign Visa Scheme went into effect November last year. The amendments state that 457 visa holders who lose their job on or after 19 November will have to leave the country within 60 days, as opposed to the current 90 days, if they do not find a new sponsor.
Reduction of time
Not only is the reduction in time from 90 days to 60 considered grossly unfair on these foreign workers, it could also potentially harm Australia’s international reputation.
Many skilled workers from other countries choose to uproot themselves and their families to come live in Australia and contribute their much needed skills. The visa changes make this choice much less attractive.
One reason is that employers can sack foreign workers in the full knowledge that their former employee will most likely be forced to leave the country before they have the opportunity to find alternative employment and sponsorship. McDonald Murholme has noticed that 457 visa holders often feel very vulnerable to employers who are unscrupulous.
Furthermore, as a result of the changes 457 visa holders will now have even less freedom of movement in the Australian labour market. This will only add to the power employers have over foreign employees on temporary visas, increasing their vulnerability and dependence.
This is particularly problematic because if an employee is unfairly or wrongfully dismissed, they now have only 60 days to fully exercise their legal rights.
Finally, from an HR perspective, it often takes a couple of months of paperwork to recruit an employee, so restricting the time visa holders can remain denies Australian companies proper access to a talent pool which would otherwise be beneficial to them.
Tightening of eligible occupations
Further restrictions are expected to be implemented once the commissioned review is completed.
According to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, the list of jobs overseas workers can fill under the 457 visa program is set to be cut by the Australian Government.
By tightening the occupations to which 457 visas apply, Australia is restricting its access to skilled labour at the very time it is advocating free trade in commodities and services.
Australia’s Free Trade Agreements provide easy access for some multinational corporations to bring in less skilled workers. This could be seen as a great threat to the Australian labour force. Shouldn’t we be protecting our lower paid workers from cheaper imported foreign labour while not denying ourselves access to skilled labour where we have demonstrated skilled shortages?
Many young Australian citizens want to travel and become international citizens, and work overseas, so it surely does not help that Australia has begun isolating itself, especially when the benefits of doing so have not been demonstrated.