05 June 2013

Australian 457 visa crackdown to benefit working holiday visa holders?

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Australian Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has said any government move to crackdown on 457 visa holders could benefit working holiday makers as they move to fill labour gaps created as a result.

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The Australian government looks set for a showdown over the 457 visa issue, but could working holiday makers be set to benefit?

The Labor government is currently embroiled in a bitter dispute over the impact the 457 visa program is having on the country's labour market and with the strength of the government's rhetoric looking to force their hand in making legislative changes, working holiday makers could stand to reap the benefits of increased opportunity.

The 457 visa program is intended to allow Australian employers to bring in workers overseas if they cannot find the talent locally. However, government ministers - including Prime Minister Julia Gillard - have claimed unscrupulous employers are exaggerating the skills needed in order to justify bringing in overseas labour.

Once an employee is in place they are then demoted to a position which could have been filled by an Australia, but paid much less, in a process known as 'rorting'.

The debate has now rolled on for months with political opponents as well as labour unions fiercely questioning the merits of the government's stance but with federal elections looming and Labor's 'jobs for Australians' stance likely to prove popular with voters, a legislative changes could be impending.

What impact this could have on the election remains to be seen but Minister O'Connor has said working holiday makers could fill the gaps left by a tightening of the 457 visa program.

"The 457 visa scheme, the temporary skilled scheme, is an essential part of [providing labour where it is needed], but it must be one that maintains integrity," said the minister.

"The holidaymaker visa and student visa are also important ways to provide labour to certain regions and to certain sectors."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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