Australia abolishes visa programme popular with Indians

Wednesday 19th April 2017 07:51 EDT

In yet another blow to Indians aspiring to go abroad, the Australian government scrapped a visa programme used by over 95,000 temporary foreign workers, prominently Indians, in a bid to tackle the unemployment issue in the country. In an announcement made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, it was known that the 457 Visa which allows businesses to employ foreign workers for up to four years, in skilled jobs, has been scrapped.

“We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains; Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, so we are abolishing the 457 Visa, the Visa that brings temporary foreign workers into our country,” Turnbull said. He added, “We will no longer allow 457 visa to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.” The visa will soon be replaced by another programme with new restrictions. “It is important that businesses still get access to the skills they need to grow and invest, so the 457 visa will be replaced by a new temporary visa, specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest,” the PM said.

He has assured that the new programme will ensure that foreign workers are brought into Australia in order to fill critical skill gaps and not brought in because an employer finds it easier to recruit a foreign worker than go the trouble of hiring an Australian. The announcement, ironically came a few days after his visit to India where he discussed several topics including national security, counter-terrorism, education, and energy.

Australia is the third country to implement new restrictions after UK and USA. US President Donald Trump, whose entire campaign sailed on his 'Buy American, Hire American' policy, stood true on his words as he recently took a foul aim at the country's IT sector; majorly ruled by Indians. The Donald is all set to issue an executive order for a review of the H1B visa programme. In a whole new level of regulatory curbs, Trump's review of the order may just adversely affect the big chunk of Indian IT officials working in the Silicon Valley on H1B visas. A US-based tech website, Recode said, “In a forthcoming executive order, Trump will commission the Department of Homeland Security, which issues the popular H1B visa, to review the way they are rewarded. The agency is also instructed to suggest reforms so that visas only land in the hands of the highly paid, specially skilled applicants, and not foreign workers who might be paid less than their US counterparts.”

In a similar case of strict visa restrictions, UK's move to impose restrictions on work visas, including the discontinuation of the short-term visa category, is set to impact at least 30,000 Indian software professionals. The short-term visa was primarily being used by Indian IT services companies to send young engineers to work on projects in the UK. Termed as Tier 2 under the sub-category of short-term staff, these work visas ceased to be issued from last week.

Shivendra Singh, Vice President and Head, Global Trade Development at Nasscom, said, “High-skilled worker mobility should be de-linked from immigration because it is different from unskilled labour. We at Nasscom voiced concerns to the British government as well as the Indian government, but the UK decided to go ahead with its plans. Our companies are investing billions of pounds to skill locals and have been extensively hiring there as well.”

The move was highly anticipated by IT companies since it was initially brought into the House of Commons last November, as part of proposed changes in immigration rules.

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