Tony Abbott pushes for relaxation of 457 visa rules

Date: Apr 27, 2012

A number of changes need to be made to 457 visa limits to attract more skilled migrants to Australia, Tony Abbott has indicated.

Speaking in Melbourne, he said that workers coming to this country on skilled visas should be the mainstay of Australia's immigration intake.

Mr Abbott highlighted that those coming over to Australia on 457 visas are not only able to contribute to the economy, but also have the potential to stay in the country on a long-term basis.

He told the Institute of Public Affairs: "Provided they are paid the same wages and provided there aren't Australians who could readily fill these jobs, businesses should be able to bring in the workers they need to keep growing and create more local jobs."

The existing 457 visa category enables employers to sponsor overseas workers to come to Australia for up to four years - a process that migration lawyers will be able to offer advice on.

Mr Abbott argues that by allowing those on 457 visas the opportunity to become permanent residents, the migration program will be as strong as it can be.

This will also have a positive impact on the economy, the leader of the opposition noted, which in turn will bring benefits to every member of the Australian community.

The intention has always been to establish the best migration program for Australia and decide what provisions can be made to help people settle quickly into their new lives, Mr Abbott added.

Under the present rules, the 457 visa is available for businesses that would like to employ workers from overseas to fill skilled positions here in Australia.

Anyone who has obtained this visa can bring eligible secondary applicants with them, who can work and study throughout the duration of their stay.

Once they have entered Australia, there is no limit on the number of times they can travel in and out of the country.

Employers are required to apply to be a sponsor in order to recruit workers from overseas, as well as nominate the occupations they are hoping to fill.

They are responsible for the recruitment of the workers they want to take up the positions and are legally required to sponsor anybody they recruit.

The employee, on the other hand, is tasked with making the application and must meet all the conditions of the visa they are hoping to be sponsored for.