03 July 2008

Changes to temporary business subclass 457 visa program for truck drivers

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Changes to the list of eligible occupations for the temporary business subclass 457 visa program came into effect early this week. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) agreed to the recommendations set out in a review from the Trucking Industry Working Group, which focused on the long-term strategy of commercial driving in Australia.

The 457 visa allows employers to hire overseas workers on a temporary basis to fill skills shortages.  The commercial driving industry in Australia is currently suffering from a labour shortage, and has been hiring temporary foreign workers under the 457 visa to boost employment numbers.  The review concluded, however, that hiring temporary drivers on a visa for Australia is not a safe or sustainable option. 

They also said the 457 visa only solves regional gaps in the driving industry.  At the moment, each state and territory have different licensing requirements, meaning foreign workers can drive in some states without an Australian licence, and not in others. 

The review group has recommended the Government focuses on domestic recruitment to fill the skills shortage.  The group also asked for international commercial drivers to be approved permanent entry visas for Australia instead of the temporary 457 visa. 

It also recommended new legislation to ensure all overseas immigrants obtain an appropriate Australian driver’s licence before commencing employment as a commercial driver. 

Other recommendations include modelling future changes on the successful Canadian regime, which requires foreign workers to pass pre-employment licence examinations, and developing Australia’s inland rail infrastructure as an investment for the future of commercial transport.  

Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, has responded to the review by removing some road transport drivers from the list of eligible occupations for the 457 visa program, which came into effect on Tuesday.  No other changes have been made to the list of eligible occupations for those people applying for a visa for Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau 

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent visa and migration consulting firm, specialising in arranging visas for British and Irish nationals looking to live, work and travel by gaining an Australia visa. For further information, visit www.visabureau.com/australia.

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