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Australia scraps 457 visa program, popular with Indians

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(G.N.S) DT.24

In a crackdown on foreign workforce, Australia has scrapped its popular employer-sponsored 457 visa program, widely used by Indians.

It has been replaced with the new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) program whose norms are restrictive.

The TSS visa category will have two streams, a 2-year short term stream and a 4-year medium term stream.

The 457 visa program allows businesses to employ foreign workers for a period of up to 4 years in skilled jobs where there was a shortage of Australian workers.

It was a popular visa among Indians with almost 22% of the total 457 visa holders, the most, being Indians.

Of about 90,000 holders of 457 visas, as of September 2017, 19,400 were Indians.

‘Australia first’ approach

While making the announcement to abolish the 457 visa program in April 2017, Australian PM Malcom Turnbull said that it was a step towards tacking the country’s growing unemployment and in adopting a new “Australia first” approach to skilled migration.

The TSS program which came into effect on March 18 requires the applicants to have higher English-language proficiency and job skills.

It poses a problem for Indians seeking permanent residency with the short term TSS visa holders ineligible to apply for permanent residence. The medium-term TSS visa holders may apply for it after having held the TSS visa for a minimum of three years.

Employers sponsoring foreign skilled workers will find it more costly as Australia plans on introducing “Skilling Australia Fund (SAF).”

According to this, the sponsoring company may have to contribute around $1,200 per employee nomination to SAF, for each year of the visa tenure.

Further the number of such visas issued is brought down by 200 from the previous 650 jobs available for 457 holders.

 

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