03 November 2011

Australia extends 457 work visa to 6 years

The Australian Government has announced it will make it easier for foreign workers to obtain a temporary working Australia visa and extend the time they are able to stay in Australia to 6 years.

Australia Visa

Australia will extend the temporary 457 visa for skilled foreign workers to 6 years.

In a move welcomed by employers and potential holders of a temporary working Australia visa, the Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has announced changes to the temporary skilled migration scheme, whereby a Skilled Temporary Business (457) visa will be valid for 6 years, double the current period.

Under the changes - to come into effect on Monday - businesses that employ skilled workers but also maintain a 75% Australian workforce will be eligible for the new visa conditions.

"From November 7, these businesses will be able to seek accreditation that qualifies them for sponsorship approval of six years rather than the current three, as well as ensuring faster processing times for all future subclass 457 nominations and visa applications," Mr Bowen said.

The arrangement seeks to balance the desire to create jobs for Australians with the need to fill skills shortages with skilled foreign labour.

"While employers should first look to Australians to fill skill vacancies, the subclass 457 visa provides a fast and flexible process for the entry of overseas workers where they are needed to fill skill vacancies," Mr Bowen added.

The changes to the temporary visa conditions were drafted in consultation with unions and employer and industry groups.

However, the move has been criticised by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) as prioritising skilled temporary migrants over local labour and posing a threat to local wages.

"We are not anti-immigration - this country is built on the principle of immigration - but we don't want to see an undercut of wages by 457 visas being brought in," said CFMEU assistant secretary Joe McDonald.

Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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