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Demand eases for Temporary Business Long Stay (Subclass 457) visa

Employer demand for the temporary skilled migration visa (subclass 457) has eased in the past six months, according to statistics released today.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) latest monthly report for 457 visas confirms downwards movement in temporary skilled migrants, a trend which has been developing since June last year.

“Temporary work visa applications have been heading downwards since June 2012 and have now declined for the last three consecutive months,” a DIAC spokesman said today.

“Reinforcing this trend has been a drop in actual 457 visa grants since August.  This movement demonstrates the 457 visa program’s responsiveness to the changing needs of the Australian economy.”

From July to November 2012, the number of applications fell by 4 per cent, while the number of visas approved also fell, by 12 per cent, over the same period.

“While the subclass 457 visa stock figure is still high, new take-up of the program is declining, particularly in the construction and mining industries that have driven much of the recent growth in the program,” the department’s spokesman said.

“Use of the program has fallen across a number of industries that have traditionally been among some of the other big users of the program including health care and social assistance, information media and telecommunications.

“For example, in the 2012-13 program year to November, 3900 applications were lodged in construction, representing a fall of 3 per cent from the same period last year.  A similar trend is evident in mining where 2400 applications were lodged, representing an 11 per cent fall.”

The subclass 457 visa program is uncapped, demand-driven and designed to respond to the needs of the Australian economy.

“The November 457 report also shows that Western Australia is now the second largest user of the program in 2012-13 after New South Wales, which reflects Western Australia’s strong labour market,” the spokesman said. “This again shows that 457 programs responsiveness to the needs of the economy.

“While trade occupations have grown, the program remains concentrated on highly skilled managers and professionals.  For example, of those 457 visa holders who were in Australia on 30 November, 64 per cent were working in occupations that typically require a bachelor degree or higher qualification.

“Remuneration levels also demonstrate how successful the program is in targeting highly skilled workers.  Average total remuneration of those 457 visa holders granted visas this program year to November was $89 800.  Managers and professionals, who together accounted for 66 per cent of the total number of visas approved this program year, had combined average total remuneration of $109 000.”

Changes to the program in 2009 sought to address concerns that 457 visa holders were being exploited, or were undermining employment and training opportunities for Australians.

“As a result of these changes, all employers seeking to sponsor foreign workers on subclass 457 visas are now required to make a measurable contribution to training Australians by meeting one of two training benchmarks.  They must also attest, in writing, to having a strong commitment to employing local labour and non-discriminatory employment practices,” the spokesman said.

“Potentially vulnerable applicants working in trade occupations are required to meet English language requirements, and may be required to have their skills formally assessed.  DIAC has also made it easier for visa holders to change sponsors, reducing the risk of their being ‘bonded’ to an employer.

“Sponsors are also obliged to provide their overseas workers with terms and conditions of employment no less favourable than those provided to Australians, including paying them the market salary rate.  This obligation is backed up by the Worker Protection Act, which enables DIAC to effectively monitor sponsors, and to take appropriate action against those found to be exploiting foreign workers.”

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Source: http://www.newsroom.immi.gov.au/document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);

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