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Australia removes Work Visa Program popular with Indians

March 2018, 23
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More stringent requirements for the new visas, including at least two years of work experience, better English language proficiency, and a criminal check are also a part of the new programme.

The popular 457 visa program has been replaced by a fresh Temporary Skills Shortage Visa Program. The Government has abolished the employer-sponsored 457 Visa Program, which was extensively used by Indians, and has replaced it with a strict version which requires top proficiency in the English language besides job skills.

The 457 visa was used by more than 95,000 overseas workers, and many of them were Indians making a quarter of the intake. The next were the UK 19.5 percent and China 5.8 percent. It was replaced on March 18th by the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa Program.

The earlier version allowed businesses to use the services of overseas workers for any period stretching up to four years to do skilled jobs which experienced a shortage of Australian workers.

The visa permitted professionals to reside in Australia accompanied by their family. It aimed to fill the shortage witnessed in the skilled labor but faced a lot of criticism owing to too much accessibility.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had announced in April 2017, that the government will abolish this work visa program, for tackling the increasing unemployment. It was to be replaced by a new program.

He assured that the country will adopt the approach of Australians first in skilled immigration.

The 457 visas will not be allowed in future to serve as a gateway for jobs that are meant for Australians.

An official notification was issued by the Home Affairs Department for the new visa program which came into effect from March 18.  It has two streams - Short Term and Medium Term,-and has more focus on an occupation list which is reactive to authentic skill needs and attends regional variations in Australia.

The Short-term visas are meant for two years, and the medium term visas are meant exclusively for shortages of critical skills and have a period of four years.

The requirements for the new program include having at least two years work experience, Standard English language proficiency and a thorough criminal check.

The Other features included a minimum market salary rate to ensure that foreign workers should not be hired to put Australian workers to loss, besides labor market testing, which makes it compulsory for employers to assure that a suitable candidate is not available in the local labor market.  The permanent residency pathway has been extended to three years from two years.

Previously, around 650 jobs were available for these visa holders, but the new visa rules permit only 200 jobs.

The fresh visa program requires a strong training obligation, on the part of employers, who sponsor foreign skilled workers, to provide an enhanced training, to Australians in the top and required occupations and industries.

The 457 visa was in place from the 1990s, to facilitate the admission of business professionals and top skilled migrants. Gradually it made way for wide-ranging categories of workers.

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