The Migration Council Australia
says the cost of a 457 visa should
The Migration Council of Australia has published a report recommending the cost of a 457 visa - which allows holders to live and work temporarily in Australia - should be increased.
The 457 visa has dominated Australian immigration news of late, with the governing Labor Party claiming abuse of the system - known as 'rorting' - is rife and needs to be clamped down upon.
The 457 visa is intended to allow Australian employers to bring in foreign workers to fill labour gaps if a suitable Australian cannot be found. However, the government and other critics claim these checks are often overlooked or manipulated.
Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has said he will introduce legislation to make the program's guidelines tighter, prioritising language skills and ensuring local labour checks are carried out first.
However, workers' unions and opposition politicians have defended the scheme, claiming it is vital to the country's economic growth - particularly in areas such as Western Australia where industrial development rates far exceed those of population growth in the areas.
The argument has steadily grown in intensity and last week Mr O'Connor found himself being forced to retract comments he made that there were tens of thousands of cases of spurious 457 visa holders, admitting that they were not based on solid research.
While the debate looks set to continue through to the federal elections later this year, the Migration Council Australia has published its own opinion on the situation, recommending the cost of a 457 visa be increased.
The council claims the cost should be increased 'to ensure that more businesses look to hire Australian workers where available' while the program itself should be better scrutinised to limit abuse.
Lauren Mennie, migration consultant at the Australian Visa Bureau, said any cost increase of the 457 visa would bring it closer to the cost of other skilled migration visa streams, but without any of the benefits.
"The 457 visa system, for all its faults, allows skills gaps in Australia to be filled where necessary," said Ms Mennie.
"Yet the holder's options for bringing family members with them or long term planning are severely limited compared to other visa streams as the holder's immigration status is dependent on continuous employment.
"Other visas for Australia can take longer to obtain but allow holders to bring dependent family members with them and remain in Australia on a permanent basis.
"Increasing the cost of the 457 visa should encourage more people to consider other means of moving to Australia."
- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.
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