The Federal Government have announced a number of changes to the 457 visa in response to a four-month independent integrity review of the programme that concluded last month.
In a statement released by the Government, the reforms aim to ensure that the programme provides “a means of filling genuine skill shortages in the local labour market while not placing unnecessary administrative burdens on business.”
Also stressed was the maintenance of “strong safeguards” against visa abuse and programme rorting.
Among the most significant measures announced included:
- Greater flexibility regarding English-language and skill requirements for 457 applicants.
- Streamlining of the sponsorship, nomination and visa application processes for low-risk applicants.
- Increased sponsorship approval periods for established and start-up businesses.
However according to Migration Solutions Managing Director, Mark Glazbrook, the reforms fall well short of the required change in regional and low-population growth areas such as South Australia.
In particular, he says the retention of the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) at $53,900 was bad news for South Australia.
“The Government’s decision not to lower the TSMIT is a bitterly disappointing outcome for SA, as the minimum salary benchmark is clearly the biggest barrier preventing employers from accessing skilled workers,” he said.
“South Australia’s economy is fundamentally different to those of the Eastern states, and as such our award rates and market salary rates are significantly lower.
“Employers can’t afford to hire many of the occupations that are in desperate shortage here on a $53,900 salary, such as cooks, chefs, bakers, mechanics and various agricultural and horticultural workers such as nursery persons and market gardeners.”
Mr Glazbrook says the review was of particular importance to areas such as South Australia, where skill shortages are severely restricting the prosperity of a number of key local industries.
Despite his calls for a regionally-adjusted 457 programme that would enable low population growth areas to attract more skilled migrants, no such measures were mentioned in the response.
“This result of this review is extremely disappointing for South Australia.”
“It highlights the need for us as a State to have a serious discussion about the use of the skilled migration programme and population growth as a means of stimulating job creation and sustained economic prosperity for future generations of South Australians.”