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Australia will introduce a new temporary visa and a new national training fund after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the scrapping of the incumbent foreign skilled worker visa programme and a greater focus on giving Australian workers priority for domestic jobs.
The move comes amid the increased global attention Australia’s immigration system has attracted, as well as a resurgence in populist politics in the wake of last year’s federal election.
Australia’s 457 visas are those that allow temporary foreign skilled workers into the country, and are akin to the US’s H-1B. President Donald Trump is expected to order a crackdown as early as today on the H-1B visa, in an effort to end abuses of that visa programme by many Silicon Valley companies.
Mr Turnbull said of Australia, in a video message posted on Facebook: “We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs.”
457 visas would no longer be “passports for jobs that could and should go to Australians,” the PM said via the social media web site.
Because businesses still needed access to foreign talent, the 457 visa would be replaced by a new temporary visa “to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest” and that will also “better target genuine skill shortages”, Mr Turnbull added.
The new visas will come with stricter requirements, including previous work experience, better English language skills and labour market testing.
Peter Dutton, the federal minister for Immigration and Border Protection, said at a press conference alongside Mr Turnbull that those already on 457 visas will continue under the conditions of that programme, or so-called ‘grandfathering’.
Mr Turnbull also announced the establishment of a new training fund to help train Australians to fill skills gaps, but more details would be revealed in coming days and weeks.