Latest figures show that the number of 457 visa applications jumped by 9.5 per cent this year, while the number of 457 visas granted grew by 6.6 per cent.
The figures back the Gillard Government’s decision to take action to close loopholes in the 457 program to ensure that local jobseekers are not disadvantaged by unscrupulous employers bringing in temporary workers from overseas.
“These January figures show that after the traditional December lull, 457s have continued to increase,” Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor said.
“At January 31, there were more than 105,000 people in Australia working on temporary 457 visas. That is an increase of 22.4 per cent compared to January 2012.
“The overall trend is clear – more people are coming in on temporary skilled worker visas. This comes at a time when the unemployment rate is flat, not dropping.
“We know that in the IT industry, for example, 457 visas have increased by 68 per cent while vacancies for local IT workers are decreasing.
“The Gillard Government will not sit idly by while Australian citizens and permanent skilled migrants lose out to unscrupulous employers.
“That’s why we are reforming the 457 program to:
Make business sponsors declare that they will commit to employing Australian citizens
Make training Australian citizens an enforceable requirement of 457 applications
Make employers show that the position is genuine
Restrict the number of workers that a business can sponsor
Tighten the definitions of eligible positions
Strengthen the market rate provision to stop undercutting of local conditions
Tighten on-hiring arrangements so that sponsors cannot bring someone in and then let them work for an unrelated company at a different salary.