23 January 2009

Govt warned hundreds of sacked 457 visa holders will stay in Australia illegally

Unions have warned the growing number of displaced 457 visa holders would eventually create a black-market of workers, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The 457 visa scheme allows Australian employers to sponsor overseas workers to temporarily work in nominated positions in the country for up to four years.

However, the financial crisis has started to hit Australia's mining and construction sectors, leaving hundreds of 457 workers high and dry before their four-year temporary Australian visa had its chance to expire.  Many have had to remain in Australia and work illegally in order to repay migration agents waiting for them in their home country. 

Jan Primrose, a spokesperson for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, said the situation is creating a black-market for overseas workers.

"This is a sleeper issue and it's going to be bigger as the commodities boom shrinks and unemployment increases.  Workers disappear into black-market employment where they are invisible.  They do not exist," she said.

Under the 457 visa conditions, workers have only 28 days to find another job, make another substantive Australian visa application, or leave Australia after losing their position.

Employers are also required to bear the cost of a return ticket to the visa holder's home country; however, it is no-one's responsibility to ensure the temporary resident uses that ticket.

During the 2007-08 financial year, the number of 457 visa holders unlawfully remaining in Australia grew by 12 per cent, which amounted to 326 people.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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