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457 visa changes: What does it mean for your business?

The upcoming changes to the 457 skilled workers visa have been the subject of much debate both in the HR sphere and politically. But what do the changes actually mean for businesses?
We speak to Ron Kessels, special counsel for Fragomen global corporate immigration lawyers for his insights.

Video transcript below:

Anna Temple: The upcoming changes to the 457 skilled workers visa have been the subject of much debate, both in the HR sphere and politically. But what do these changes actually mean for businesses? Ron Kessels, special counsel for Fragomen Global, Corporate Immigration Law, says that much of the negativity around the visa in its current incarnation comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of its purpose for businesses.

Ron Kessels, Special Counsel, Fragomen

Ron Kessels: Towards the end it became apparent that the Gillard government’s view was that employers who were using overseas workers, in their view instead of Australian workers were therefore abusing the system and what this shows is really a fundamental misunderstanding by government about how businesses use foreign workers and that it’s actually an essential necessity for many businesses working in a global economy. We’re really expecting this is going to become far less politically driven after the election, regardless of who wins, as government realises that these type of attacks on 457 visas are really going to damage Australia’s business reputation.

Anna Temple: He says a lot of changes to the visa which are actually quite minor and that a lot of businesses won’t feel too large an impact.

Ron Kessels: I don’t think that employers should be expecting any large scale changes. If you look historically the 457 visa program has been remarkably steady. The changes were in fact quite minor in nature, but nevertheless will lead to some increases in costs and possibly processing delays although we are expecting that that will ease off over time.

Businesses needing to employ specialist managers may need to go through some additional skills assessment processes which also could add some time and delay. Beyond that most businesses should be relatively unaffected.

Anna Temple: Kessels also notes that the biggest shift Fragomen have experienced has actually been in the growing demand for advice around bringing in foreign workers.

Ron Kessels: One of the major changes that we’re seeing is the increased demand from business for advice around their strategic planning of migration program and also compliance and I think that that’s one of the major shifts that’s occurred over the last year or two, as businesses realise that visas are much more than just a simple transaction and that there is a lot of advice and planning that needs to go into the process. Australia still really does have one of the most business friendly systems of visas for overseas workers and with a bit of forward planning and professional advice, most employers have very little difficulty in getting in the workers that they need.

Anna Temple: This is Anna Temple reporting for HC Online