Australia terminates 457 Visa Programme used largely by Indians

Australia has terminated its employer-sponsored 457 visa programme, which is highly used by Indians. The authorities further replaced it with a new stringent programme that requires higher English-language proficiency and job skills.

The visa programme 457 allowed companies to hire foreign workers for up to four years in skilled jobs in which there was a shortage of Australian workers. Most of the category visa holders come from India, with about a quarter of the hiring, followed by the United Kingdom and China respectively to 19.5 per cent and 5.8 per cent. It was replaced on March 18 by a new Temporary Skills Shortage visa programme.

The 457 visa allowed people to live in Australia with their family and was designed to fill gaps in skilled work but was criticized as too accessible.

The new visa programme which came into effect from March 18 after an official notification issued by Department of Home Affairs, comprises two streams Short Term and Medium Term. Short term visas will be issued for two years, while medium-term visas will be issued only for more critical skills shortages and for up to four years.

More stringent requirements for the new visas, including at least 2 years of work experience, better English language proficiency and a criminal check are also a part of the new programme.  Apart from that more than 650 jobs were available for 457 holders, but under the new visa rules, it has been reduced by 200.