Official figures released by the Immigration Department indicate that previous estimates in relation to claims there has been ‘widespread’ rorting of the 457 visa scheme are without foundation.
It was confirmed by the Immigration Department (IMMI) that advice had not been provided to Minister Brendan O'Connor that 457 visas had been rorted some 10,000 times. Migration and visa policy division official Kruno Kukoc told a Senate estimates committee earlier this week that 170 sponsors had been formally sanctioned in the 10 months to April – an increase from 93 in the same period last year. Yet given there were 29,100 active sponsors, this equated to a sanction rate of just 0.58% on the latest figures.
Martin Bowles, secretary at IMMI said Minister Brendan O'Connor’s comments, implying that 457 visas had been rorted about 10,000 times, were inaccurate. “The minister's already put on the public record he made that assessment after reading a range of reporting,” he told Fairfax. O'Connor gave the ‘estimate’ in a radio interview in April.
Bowles added that there were examples of industries and regions in which strong growth in 457 visa use came at the same time as a softening in the local labour market.
The current model of the 457 temporary visa program allows an employer to hire a foreign worker if an appropriately skilled Australian cannot be found. As it stands, IMMI is working with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) on a draft plan on how to best investigate 457 visa misuse from July 1.