New Delhi: Australia scrapping the 457 visa programme comes as a new challenge to India’s IT industry that was already facing pressure from the Donald Trump administration’s attempts to overhaul H1B visas in the US.
Indian IT professionals account for nearly 18,000 visas issued under the 457 visa category, according to a research report by the Australian Population Research Institute.
In 2015-16, information communication and technology (ICT) professionals accounted for 17,185 or 16% of 106,130 visas issued under visa category 457 and for those which took permanent residence, according to a 6 December 2016 report, titled Immigration Overflow: Why It Matters by The Australian Population Research Institute.
Indians constituted 76% of the total 457 visas issues. The 457 visa programme allows businesses to employ foreign workers for a period up to four years in skilled jobs where there is shortage of Australian workers.
“We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains: Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, so we are abolishing the 457 visa, the visa that brings temporary foreign workers into our country,” said prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The report’s authors also concluded that the relative success of Indian IT companies in Australia “winning IT consulting work in the design and implementation of new IT software systems for Australian businesses and governments” was also due to “import of their own staff on temporary visas to do much of the work”.
“This is a policy change and the new change comes into effect from March 2018. We still need to read the fine print but as we understand that the Australian government will do away with visa category 457 and so ICT professionals will need to apply as part of the new short-term and long-term visa categories. We do not see this change curtailing the number of visas approved for now,” said Shivendra Singh, global trade development head at the National Association of Software and services Companies (Nasscom).