Australia enforces stricter visa rule for foreign workers

Australia today implemented a new stringent visa regime for hiring of foreign workers, allowing businesses to recruit expatriates only after exhausting all local options, besides increasing the visa fees.

As for the existing 457 visa scheme, the employers will now have to declare that they could not find an Australian for a particular job before hiring any foreign worker.

Under the new rule, companies will have to advertise for four months in a newspaper for a position before sponsoring a foreigner, Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said there was concern that certain employers were sourcing their skilled labour needs from outside Australia without first checking the availability of labour locally.

“While not unlawful, these actions were not in line with the principles of the subclass 457 programme,” it said.

The employers will now also have to give details on how many workers they will sponsor and whether a new nominee meets the English language requirement.

“Employees must now be employed by their sponsor in a direct ‘employee-employer’ relationship,” said Vikram Porous, director of Swastik Migration and Educational services.

“This prohibits on-hire arrangements that fall outside approved labour agreements and prevents sponsors from engaging visa-holders under arrangements that resemble independent contracting arrangements,” he added.

As per the new visa fees that came into force from today, applicants for family visas will now be levied with additional charges.

For family members aged over 18, the fee will be half the visa application charge ($1,530) and for those under 18, it will be a quarter of the charge ($765).

“The new pricing structure increases the burden for those with spouses and dependents,” said Ravi Lochan Singh, president of Association of Australian Education Representatives (AAERI).

“While there is no increase in cost for a student visa for an individual, now those with spouses and dependents have to pay out significantly higher,” he added.

Also, Australia released an updated Skilled Occupation List (SOL), which saw five occupations of Hospital Pharmacist, Retail Pharmacist, Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics), Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical) and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures) being removed from the list.

The new list determines which occupations are eligible for independent and family sponsored skilled migration visas.

According to 2011 census, about 295,362 people in Australia declared their birth place as India. In 2011-12, Indians were the largest source of permanent migration to Australia.

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