If you needed any further evidence about the rank hypocrisy of the government in respect of the 457 visa program, just check out this announcement about the relaxed conditions attached to the 485 visa program, which latter applies to international graduates of Australian universities.
In reality, there is probably a stronger case for restricting the 485 program as international graduates compete with local graduates who are entering the labour force. The numbers are also much larger.
And as for changing the visa rules as a form of industry development for Australian higher education, say no more. Check out the comments from the UA exeuctive at the end of the piece.
Having said this, I support both programs and think that Australia is well-served by taking an expansionist approach to immigration.
There is just no case for the government having one approach to 457 visa holders – demonising them for robbing Australians of jobs – and another approach to 485 visa holder – encouraging them to stay irrespective of labour market conditions.
THOUSANDS more foreign students will get the green light to compete for Australian jobs next week, when the Government expands a work visa scheme.
The Immigration Department is relaxing the work rules for foreign students, even though the Prime Minister is vowing to “put Aussies first” by cracking down on 457 professional visas.
From March 23, all international students will be allowed to stay and work in any job for up to four years after they graduate from an Australian university.
The number of foreigners on “485 skilled graduate” visas soared 74 per cent last year to 38,210 – the same number of unemployed Australians aged 20 to 24, who were searching for their first job in January.
Indian graduates made up 40 per cent of visa holders, immigration data shows, while Chinese accounted for 14 per cent and Nepalese nearly 8 per cent.
The scheme’s expansion has angered unions and prompted warnings from within Ms Gillard’s own party that foreign students will snatch jobs from local graduates.
But Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said the change was “intended to make Australia a more attractive destination for high quality overseas students”.
“There is no guarantee that sub-class 485 visa holders will find a job at the expense of an Australian student,” his spokeswoman said yesterday.
She said the government would monitor the use of the visas and “make changes in response to economic and employment circumstances”.
Under the existing scheme, only foreign graduates with “in-demand” qualifications – such as IT or medicine – can work in Australia for 18 months.
But starting next Saturday, foreign graduates with a bachelor’s degree in any field will be allowed to work here for up to two years.
Master’s degree graduates will be allowed to work for three years, and PhD graduates for four years.
“Applicants … will not be required to nominate an occupation on the SOL (skills shortage list) or undertake a skills assessment,” the department’s website states.
Labor’s Left convenor, Senator Doug Cameron, warned the students could take jobs from Australian graduates.
“I’m concerned about any policy that diminishes opportunities for young Australians,” he said.
“It’s pretty hard for young people to get their foot on the employment ladder, especially so for some graduates.”
The unemployment rate among the graduate age group has risen by one-third since the global financial crisis, hitting 9.4 per cent in January.
The CFMEU construction union’s national assistant secretary, Dave Noonan, called on the government to limit student work rights to jobs with labour shortages.
“It’s one thing if people are filling highly-skilled graduate jobs where there are shortages, but if you have students who end up in low-paid jobs at convenience stores and driving cabs then that’s not a great outcome for anyone,” he said.
Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said work rights were a selling point for the $15bn international education industry.
The number of foreign students in Australia fell 5 per cent last year to 242,210 in December.