News & Updates
NEWS.COM.AU EXCLUSIVE: THOUSANDS of low-paid foreign workers will be stopped from coming into Australia and taking local jobs under a crackdown on visas.
Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor revealed to the Herald Sun that growth in the 457 visa program was "out of step" with skills shortages and said the Gillard Government had evidence "rogue employers" were abusing it to get cheap labour.
The number of 457 visas has soared from 70,000 to 100,000 in the past two years.
Mr O'Connor said while some industries and regions had genuine shortages that needed temporary foreign workers, laws and regulations needed to be beefed up to stop rorts and close loopholes.
He predicted this could stop "thousands" of foreign workers taking jobs from locals.
"Rogue employers are deliberately employing people from overseas without giving a local a chance," he said.
It is the second time in three days the Gillard Government has moved to stem pain on a hot political issue after it reversed a $107 million funding cut to Victorian hospitals.
The changes, to be announced today by Mr O'Connor, include:
EXTRA investigation powers for inspectors to get information from bosses they suspect of being dodgy.
A NEW test to prove jobs were for "genuine" skills shortages because some employers were creating positions that were really "unskilled and possibly not even a real job".
CLOSING loopholes that allow foreign workers to be paid less than an Australian citizen by increasing from $180,000 to $250,000 the threshold at which they must pay "market rates".
STOPPING employers creating their own market to manipulate pay rates.
RAISING requirements for foreign workers to speak English.
RESTRICTING foreign workers being on-hired to a different employer in regions where there are not skill shortages.
CHECKING that employers offer training for locals to fill skills shortages before they seek foreigners.
"The Government cares about Australians getting jobs first," Mr O'Connor said.
"It has become clear that the growth in the 457 program is out of step with genuine skills shortages and the Government has evidence that some employers are using 457 visas to employ foreign workers over locals."
It has found skilled Australian tradespeople earning $220,000 were under-cut by foreign workers willing to accept $180,000.
Pay levels have been especially manipulated in the IT industry in Melbourne.
Low-skilled jobs have been dressed up as high-skilled ones with one company winning permission to bring in administrators who were really unskilled security guards.
And a Melbourne "start-up" company that didn't make money was created just to secure a cheap foreign worker for other duties.
Mr O'Connor also said the Government would examine the 457 visas of four Filipino welders at the centre of protests at a Werribee water project amid claims the system has been abused because there is no shortage of those skills in the area.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said last year there was "room for expansion" of the 457 program and said claims the market was being flooded with foreign workers was "ridiculous".
You do not need a visa label in your passport to confirm your immigration status and visa entitlements in Australia. Instead, your visa information is held electronically and can be accessed using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service.
To ensure DIAC can process your application so you can travel to Australia during the December holiday period, you will need to submit a complete application to the department by 2 November 2012.