[JURIST] Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, [official website] announced Tuesday that the country will be introducing stricter visa requirements for skilled foreign workers. The Prime Minister said the focus is to ensure that Australian jobs are “given to Australians first.” The current 4-year work visa program, 457 visa program [materials], which allows workers from overseas to live in Australia with their immediate family, will be abolished [BBC report] and will be replaced by two temporary visas that carry additional obstacles. Some of the changes require English proficiency, an increase in application fees, subjection to labor market testing, and additional barriers to permanent migration after the work visa expires. People currently holding a 457 visa will not be affected.
This restriction on foreign workers is in response to the Australian government’s promise to roll back work visas granted to fast-food restaurants. Since 2012, more than 500 foreign workers have been granted [BBC report] a 457 visa to work at businesses including McDonald’s, KFC and Hungry Jack’s. The country is concerned with the role the visa holders are actually fulfilling, compared [ABC report] with the role they applied for. Moreover, the program has been under fire for the alleged exploitation [BBC report] of migrant workers. If migrant workers are given the jobs, lawmakers fear that Australians are losing out to foreigners in the Australian job market.