The number of overseas employees working in Australia increased to more than twenty percent last year. According to the latest information released by the Immigration Department, this is the highest increase for the past fifteen years. Despite of the government’s efforts to place foreign workers at the bottom of the job queue, the number of foreign workers using a 457 is still increasing.
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor highlighted that a new reform is needed in order to solve some pertinent issues regarding local employers preferring to use 457 visas though they can find an appropriate local labor.
O’ Connor stated that there are some employers who misuse the system. They do not make an effort to hire local employees first or they exploit overseas employees under this migration scheme. He further stated that the Australian government will implement additional actions to prevent employers from abusing the program.
The Immigration Minister also stated that the current government will ensure that local employees are provided with local opportunities whenever possible. A n immigration legislation has been approved to assure that employers will hire local employees before hiring foreign workers on 457 visas.
The summary of the new legislation is:
– Enshrines the rights and obligations of sponsoring employers in legislation and strengthens the power of DIAC, Department of Immigration and Citizenship to punish or prosecute employers who do felonious things.
– Introduces duly enforceable undertakings for organizations or employers who have breached their obligations and to further strengthen the capacity of DIAC.
– Authorizes the inspectors / staff of Fair Work Ombudsman to investigate some breaches of sponsorship obligations to DIAC for further action and to reprimand and punish those who abuse the system.
– Extends the period of time that a 457 visa holder can remain in Australia after ceasing employment with a sponsor from twenty-eight to ninety days.
O’Connor stated that primary goal of the new law is to protect and balance the interests of Australian employees and overseas workers.