Industry back to the drawing board on s457 visas

Lobbying to improve the workability of the tough new regulatory regime surrounding s457 temporary work visas has been set back by the change of government, a key industry spokesman says.

The temporary and overseas recruitment industry has been in a spin since former immigration minister Kevin Andrews introduced new regulations requiring recruiters to meet onerous and potentially expensive training obligations before they will be permitted to bring workers into Australia on s457 visas.

Talks between industry groups and key Labor figures before the federal election had raised hopes that Labor might be prepared to review or consider making changes the new regulations.

But the change of government – and a shuffling of portfolios that has seen Senator Chris Evans take over from Tony Burke as Labor’s immigration spokesman – has sent the lobbying process back to the drawing board, according to Recruitment and Consulting Services Association policy adviser Charles Cameron.

“We have a new minister we have to educate on the issues, and of course there are a number of other priorities for a new government, so we are being realistic on what can be achieved in the short term,” Cameron says.

New Immigration Minister Evans has not shut the door on making changes to the new regime. “The minister has not made a decision yet to alter the rules, but that’s not to say that that may not change. He hasn’t had a chance to consider it yet,” a spokesman has reportedly said.

On Friday the RCSA will be meeting with government officials for the first time since Labor was elected, but Cameron says he does not expect any significant policy movement until well after Christmas.

Applications for new s457 visas have all but dried up since the new regulations were introduced. Recruiters are likely to start feeling the crunch early in the new year, when the last s457s entered into before the change will have worked through the system.

Jo Burston, the managing director of migration services firm Job Capital, says there has been a noticeable drying up of new s457 visas since the changes were introduced.

“It certainly has affected the contracting books of the recruiting companies, especially those dealing in high demand skill areas such as IT, accounting, engineering and the professions on the occupations-in-demand list,” Burston says.

Burston says she believes the regulations will ultimately be a good thing for the industry, but many recruiting business are currently having trouble adapting to the new environment.

“The entry level to using s457s is a lot higher than the previous obligations, particularly for the SMEs where the resources tend to be more focused on revenue producing areas rather than administrative and legal compliance,” she says.


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