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Visa fees to double for 457 applicants

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s budget will also be increased by $3.4m to enforce employer compliance with 457 visa conditions, following a vocal union campaign.

The application charge for a 457 visa will increase from $400 to $900 from July, bringing in $46.8m next financial year and $52.8m in 2014-15.

The increased charge will raise a further $98.4m in the subsequent two financial years.

As announced in March, the government will provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with extra funding to stop alleged abuse of the 457 visa program. The amount, less than $1m annually over four years, aims to “monitor and enforce employer compliance” with the program.

The migration intake will be maintained at 190,000 places next financial year, with the government arguing the places were required to fill skill shortages and reunite Australian families.

Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said the government’s top priority “will always be jobs for Australians”.

The program next financial year provides 128,550 places for skilled migrants, 60,885 places for family migration and 565 places for special eligibility migration.

“The permanent migration program is about getting the balance right between our economic and social objectives,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said 700 places had been shifted from the skill to the family stream due to high demand in the latter category.

While skilled migration continued to make up more than two-thirds of the program, the government said it was important the stream was driven by genuine skills needs.

The budget commits $45m to create a Skills Connect Funds designed to deliver more effective training for businesses.

Employers will have greater flexibility to access workforce development funding on a co-contribution basis.

A separate $69m program will provide more flexible pathways for 4000 people completing a trade or technical qualification in high-demand industries facing skills shortages.

Incentives will be be provided to jobseekers to relocate to regional and rural areas and take up employment and apprenticeships before June next year.

The government will provide up to $6500 for families and $4500 for individuals to move.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said it was common for businesses, especially in rural and regional areas, to find they were short of workers.

“Added to the challenges of remoteness, our regional businesses also have to adapt to the new competitive environment of the Asian century,” he said.

“This is further exacerbating skills shortages, which businesses in rural and regional Australia have always had to deal with.”

EWIN HANNAN

May 15, 2013

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/treasury/visa-fees-to-double-for-457-applicants/story-fnhi8df6-1226642532536

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