457 Visa Controversy Continues with Application Prices set to Double

It was revealed yesterday, that the application price for the 457 worker’s visa will double in price from July onwards.

The four year skilled visa, is expected to rise from €350 (Aus $455) to €690 (Aus $900). The move to increase the VAC (visa application charge) was decided as a result of the 2013 Budget, on Tuesday. The VAC price increase is a bid by the Australian government to create more revenue, which is believed will add up to €150million (Aus $198million).

The 457 visa has been a source of controversy of late, with immigration minister, Brendan O’Connor claiming that there were over 10,000 visa rorts. The immigration minister was forced to later retract his statement due to lack of evidence.

The 457 visa is considered a valuable source of skilled labour for businesses and construction industries in Australia and many insist that it is necessary to fulfill skill shortages.

Some argue it is a further government attack on the program and another incentive created for businesses to look harder for Australian workers. The National Farmers Federation’s, Duncan Fraser, says the sector is facing labour shortages and the fee increase will prevent many farmers from seeking migrant workers.

“We’d like to see some explanation as to why such a massive increase was justified there,” he said. “It’s something we use and employer members use in regional Australia to get skilled people out in the country where we can’t source them locally.”

However some business and construction organisations have supported fee increases as a way of strengthening compliance with the system.

The Migration Council of Australia’s (MCA) report this week revealed a positive response for the skilled workers visa scheme. It stated that workers have a high level of job satisfaction and integrate well within the Australian workforce.

The MCA also said that are 3,800 people working on 457 visas, with 1,600 businesses employing temporary migrants.

The report also recommended that the government increase sponsorship and application fees as it would serve as a “price signal”. They said it would help ensure foreign labour was sought only when suitable local labour could genuinely not be found, and would help to raise funding aimed at enforcing compliance.

Despite the VAC increase in the 2013 Budget, the government has left the current migrant intake levels at 190,000 for 2013-2014, a move welcomed by industry groups.