Impact of Turnbull’s 457 visa changes clearer

Evidence is mounting that Turnbull’s changes to temporary worker visas will create a new class of “guest worker” migrants with fewer rights.

Many have noted that the occupations removed from the list that temporary migrant workers can do would still allow over 90 per cent of those granted 457 visas in the second half of 2016 to gain a new Temporary Skills Shortage visa.

But analysis by SBS News found that more than half of temporary migrant workers in future would only be entitled to the two year temporary visa. This means they have no pathway to permanent residency and can only stay in the country on their current visa for four years.

The changes only apply to new temporary visa applicants from March next year. But based on the occupations of 457 visa workers in Australia at the end of 2016, 45,000 of the 81,000 would be affected. Overall just 35 per cent of current 457 visa holders would have a right to permanent residency under the changes. This would prevent 15,000 people gaining permanent residency each year.

In addition, the higher level of English required to gain citizenship poses a serious barrier for refugees and family members of skilled migrants who arrive with low English skills.

Henry Sherrell, a researcher at the ANU, examined the Australian government’s official Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), provided to newly-arrived refugees and other migrants. He writes that, “Of the AMEP attendees who completed 500 hours of training between 2004 and 2012, 0 per cent of new migrants reached the level required for the new citizenship test.”

Around 80 per cent of refugees attend the classes. Based on the number of new migrants who attend these classes, “somewhere north of 30,000 people each year would be ineligible for Australian citizenship under the new rules”.

A lack of citizenship denies people the right to vote, to work in some public service jobs and means they can have their visa cancelled and face deportation. And under new changes non-citizens also have to pay up-front fees to study at university. These attacks on migrant workers are simply racist discrimination.

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